With November being National Veterans and Military Families Month, ENA is proud to spotlight one of its military members, David McDonald is an ENA Lifetime Member, AEN Fellow, and the 2022 North Carolina ENA State Council president-elect. He has been an ED nurse since 2004 and an ED clinical nurse specialist since 2009.
Tell us about your journey in the ED.
My journey into emergency nursing started the summer of 2003 as a nurse intern in the ED at Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey. I was hired into the ED as a new graduate extern the following year and that is where I honed my nursing skills under the mentorship of Gayle Walker-Cillo, who is still a mentor of mine today. In 2009, I started as an ED clinical nurse specialist at Overlook Hospital in New Jersey and then joined the Navy Nurse Corps in 2011. In my brief 10-year Navy career so far, I've been an ED CNS at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, NMC Camp Lejeune, the ship's nurse on an aircraft carrier, chief nursing officer of 2d Medical Battalion and am currently the Navy's specialty leader for emergency/trauma nursing. This year, I was humbled to be inducted into the Academy of Emergency Nursing.
How has ENA helped you along in your journey?
My mentor Gayle recruited me into the ENA shortly after getting my feet wet in the ED. The community, camaraderie, mentorship and networking it provided me as a new graduate was invaluable. As I became more involved in chapter, state and national levels of the ENA, those networks expanded across the world. Those mentors and networks have been tremendously helpful in continuing my professional growth as both an ED nurse and CNS since I joined ENA in 2006.
What do you enjoy doing outside of your career in emergency nursing?
I am an avid sports fan. I tend to watch more sports than I play at this point in my life, but still enjoy playing basketball. I enjoy spending time with my family including my wife Kelly and two children, Madison and Caleb. I enjoy volunteering on humanitarian missions to the Dominican Republic with the Foundation for Peace and serving on the North Carolina ENA Board of Directors.
Vientiane Pajo, BSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, is an ENA Lifetime Member. His dedication to the profession has strengthened as he joined the ENA Trauma Committee in 2021, his first formal ENA committee volunteer experience. Learn more about Vien
Tell us about your journey in the ED.
Serendipity by perception, but providence in grand design.
In 2015, I started working at our Level II trauma center ED after moving from cardiac and med-surg observation. It was a very big adjustment in mindset and approach to patient care, continuity of care, critical thinking and considerations, workflow and team dynamics, and learning. Initially, it was overwhelming, but there was so much support from my work family as each one wanted to succeed and continue to grow regardless of years of experience. They applied the same concept as the camaraderie and mentorship in the military – a majority of them served for many decades in the military.
I was then introduced to ENA by local leadership and members. This opened an entirely different world in every facet of ED nursing to me. ENA took everything I hope for and love in nursing – specifically, ED/trauma and exponentially magnified it in an accessible way: for all, by all, and to all. It was here I met life-long friends who changed my life forever. It’s both a family and community – and I feel safe and secure with ENA.
The journey eventually led to precepting nursing students in our ED, which I’m both thankful and passionate for, and becoming a part of our trauma team as one of its leaders. With other like-minded people, we pursued BCEN certifications to be able to provide further evidence-based care to improve patient outcomes and advocate for both nurses and our patients.
ENA’s heart beats for both the nurse and our patients and communities that we impact, whether it be in direct care, policy and legislative areas, education and so much more.
My entire ED journey has changed every facet of me. We stare into a darkness so vast, yet equally so do we cast a light to pull people out of it. And with this light to comfort one another’s flickering flames.
That is truer now, more than ever, in these present times.
How has volunteering on the ENA Trauma Committee enhanced your experience with ENA?
I am surrounded by inspirational and passionate people, who have become life long friends, who continuously impact and change nursing in ways I can never adequately put in words. They taught me how I can better utilize ENA’s tangible resources, but more so, what can never be quantified – the intangibles. To say that this experience is life -changing is an understatement and in no means an exaggeration
It has also placed me in the company of people whose mentorship and friendship, constant encouragement, expertise, and availability taught me more about who we are as ENA and who we can be for others, both members and non-members.
Volunteering with everyone, given our committee charges, the work we do and ENA’s support, has instilled in me a sense of fulfillment as a person and nurse. This is because we are given the opportunity to collaboratively discern and improve patient care, outcomes, and continuity of care; equip our fellow nurses and providers; be an advocate and voice in the agency of trauma care and its continuum, thus impacting this generation and the years to come.
Do you think you’ll continue with volunteering after your term ends on the Trauma Committee?
I would both very much love and be humbled to serve others in any way possible in ENA at any level of involvement!
What do you like to do outside of your role as an ED nurse?
Outside of work, I love spending time practicing my faith, with my family at home and reconnecting with loved ones online in the Philippines. At times, I help tell the stories and celebrate life: of families, couples, and engagements through photography. I’m hopeful, after more training and experience, in the future I can also offer the same for couples who want an elopement wedding.
Currently, I am saving to pursue advanced studies with a Doctor of Nursing Practice and taking the initial steps to study and train to become a pilot. This is so I can expand how I can serve and help others. I wouldn’t have realized it was possible if not for one of my friends on our ENA Trauma Committee.
Tell us about your journey in the ED.
I started working as a new grad on med surg and began doing ED work a year later. In 1981, a little over a year after I started working in the emergency department, my supervisor approached me about attending a two-day ENA conference in the Twin Cities. At the time I really didn’t know anything about ENA. My supervisor made all the arrangements, all I had to do was get myself there, about 100 miles. I went, I saw, and have been hooked ever since!
After that, over the years, I’ve attended hundreds of hours of ENA education and courses which have helped me become a successful emergency nurse. Not only that, but it also benefited my facility, my colleagues, and the patients we care for. ENA is the very best provider of high-quality emergency nursing education.
What do you like most about attending emergency nursing conferences?
What I like most about attending emergency nursing conferences is learning. It’s good to be with other emergency nurses and laugh together. Attending conference renews my enthusiasm for the everyday work I do and challenges me to do it better. Recently a co-worker said to me, “I don’t know how you’ve been able to do this all these years.” Without ENA, I’m not so sure I would have been able to.
What do you like to do outside of your role as an ED nurse?
For fun, I am a member and keeper of the data base for the Doris Club of the Upper Midwest. The club is made up of women named Doris, who get together for fun and fellowship. I call them my Doris friends. Some of the old names, such as Cora and Evelyn, have made a comeback in recent years, but so far not Doris.
Alexus Moore, MSN-ED, RN, has been an ENA member since 2017 and is currently serving on the ENA Emerging Professional Advisory Council. Learn more about Alexus
“I graduated from Longwood University in May 2017 and all throughout nursing school, I did not know what kind of nurse I wanted to be. Cardiac and neuro interested me, however,; it was not until the summer before my senior year that I fell in love with emergency nursing. I was selected by Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center in Norfolk, Virginia, to be a nurse extern for the summer in their ED. After that summer, the rest was history. My senior year, I did my internship at Centra Southside Community Hospital in their ED and wanted to be an ED nurse badly. It was not until I was about to take an offer at another hospital that , I was given a chance to be new graduate nurse at Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center in Mechanicsville, Virginia. I started in July of 2017 and loved every minute of being a new graduate nurse in the ED.”
What about the Emergency Department interests you?
“The ED interests me because you have to use critical thinking with all of your patients to give them the best care they deserve. Critical thinking, I believe is so hard to teach, but if you can learn how to use it then you can do well in any ED and do well in nursing. Not only do I love the critical thinking piece, I love that every day is unpredictable because you do not know what medical conditions and patient population will walk in through triage or through the EMS bay.”
How has ENA helped along your journey?
“ENA has helped me in so many ways! I was able to receive a scholarship from the ENA Foundation to complete my MSN in Nursing Education. ENA has helped me find some of my forever friends and network with thousands of nurses around the world. ENA has helped me gain leadership skills from the chapter/state level all the way up to volunteering on multiple national committees. ENA ultimately has helped shape me into the nurse and strong woman I am today!”
Tell us something fun about yourself!
In my free time, I love to work out and jam to music in the gym. I have always been very athletic and competitive, and working out lets me do that in so many ways. I also enjoy being a mother to my 2-year-old daughter and a wife to my amazing husband. The three of us are excited to be welcoming a chocolate lab puppy in the next week!
Iman Mohammed, who joined ENA as a student member, recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Thomas Jefferson University in Pennsylvania. Learn more about Iman, her experiences with ENA and her excitement as she prepares for work in the ED.
“I am a firm believer that everything is fate and there is no such thing as a coincidence. This belief of mine is further solidified when my mind wanders to where I came from and where I am today. My family and I are from the country of Sudan, more specifically a very rural small town two hours out from the capital. At the age of 8, my family and I received the opportunity to join my father in the United States of America.
I strived in my studies and quickly learned that the nursing profession was the career for me. Two degrees later, my heart is still in the ED. My first degree was a bachelor’s in ethnic studies from the University of Colorado - Denver and my most recent is my bachelor’s degree in nursing from Thomas Jefferson University. Next steps for me include taking the NCLEX in June and to join the ED team that is the right fit for me, and me for them. In the meantime, I spend my time as a hospital float pool nurse extern at Thomas Jefferson Hospital.
The ED interests me in many ways. I love the unpredictability, the fast pace and the variation in patient population and medical conditions. I am a person who has experienced constant change and movement. It is now a part of who I am and where I feel most comfortable. ENA has helped me find a community to foster my growth and the growth of our community. This is a community where nurses and student nurses in the ED can receive and give support. Furthermore, ENA provided me with the platform to network and get to know my colleagues.
Although I live in Philadelphia now, my childhood and adulthood were spent in Colorado. I say this because I love the outdoors and I love to hike. I am happy Pennsylvania also has a lot to offer with its vast greenery and many trails to explore.”
“I first found out that I had been awarded the ENA Doctoral Scholarship in the early part of the fall 2020 semester. The cost of education can be very costly. I will never forget getting that letter and an email saying that I had been awarded an ENA scholarship. A million thoughts and emotions went through my mind at that time, but the most important one I would have to say was grateful. Grateful to be selected from a pool of applicants to be awarded a scholarship is very humbling.
It is common for many people not to realize their true potential until it is put to the test. We can accomplish many things that we may not have thought we would be able to do so. My parents both had elementary – middle school education, I am a first-generation college graduate in my family. ENA has believed in me; it has invested in me and my future as a nurse, leader, clinician, patient advocate. I have been extremely fortunate enough to have become part of the ENA as a novice nurse. I have been blessed to be a part of a very close-knit chapter in the Rio Grande Valley and have been mentored by many great nurse leaders. I am also highly thankful for being part of the best ENA state chapter, the Texas Chapter. I feel like I am forever in debt to my Texas ENA colleagues as well. They have all been incredibly supportive, accessible, and able to work and mentor me as I continue to pursue my studies and develop as a nurse leader.
My advice to any nursing and non-nursing students pursuing an ED Path – get involved and engaged with your professional chapter and organization. Do not be afraid to ask for help and support from other colleagues who may have more experience. As a Hispanic who has overcome all the odds and has made a difference in his profession and his community as a nurse, be open-minded. Take every opportunity to learn and grow. Do not focus on the negative things but look at the positive things. I think most importantly is to stay humble. Listen to your patients. Listen to your heart and follow your dreams. Si se puede – Animo.”
“I am clinical faculty at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, as well as a float pool nurse in the Johns Hopkins Adult Psychiatric Emergency Department. I was a volunteer EMT and ER Tech before finishing nursing school in 2009. I began my career in the Johns Hopkins Adult Emergency Department. After some years, I decided to become a nurse case manager in the Johns Hopkins Department of Medicine, as well as the Johns Hopkins Department of Adult Emergency Medicine. After working as an adjunct, I decided to pursue my passion for educating the next generation of nurses by joining the faculty of my alma mater. I am blessed to be able to pass down the pearls of wisdom imparted to me while I was a nursing student.
When I am not at work, I love to travel and go to great concerts.
My favorite thing about emergency nursing is that it is never a dull moment. The diversity of patients and experiences, I feel prepared me to be a well-rounded nurse. Beginning my career in an academic emergency medicine department combines my three loves: clinical practice, education, and research. I am excited to be a member of ENA’s inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Committee and I look forwarding to giving back to ENA because it has given me so much."
“I am an RN Education Specialist in the Emergency Center at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. I was a paramedic for several years before graduating from nursing school in 2010. I started my nursing career in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, first as a bedside nurse and then as the unit educator. I spent a few years after that working in our central clinical education department, where I oversaw our hospital’s general nursing orientation. In March 2020, I had the opportunity to combine my ‘roots’ in emergency medicine with my passion for nursing education, and I haven’t looked back since!
When I’m not at work, I’m a wife, mother to a 7-year-old daughter and a wrangler of our four-year-old Australian Cattle Dog. I love spending time outdoors, scuba diving, and reading mystery/suspense novels.
My favorite thing about emergency nursing is that no two days are the same, and we need to be prepared for anything. I love the challenge of keeping up with the latest research and integrating it into clinical practice. In my experience one of the best ways to do that is to collaborate and learn from other nurses. I’m excited to be a moderator for the new ENA Emergency Educators CONNECT community, and I look forward to learning from my colleagues!”