Best in Nursing: 2012 winner Lisa Baker

Monday, May 7, 2012
Lisa Baker (Laura Simon)

Lisa Baker grew up in a family of educators. She knew she wanted to be in a helping profession but bucked the family trend by becoming a nurse instead. "I wasn't sure if I wanted to be an educator or a nurse until I discovered that one of the roles of a nurse is to be an educator," she says.

Baker grew up in Marble Hill and is a graduate of Woodland High School. She's been a registered nurse since 1997, earning her associate degree in nursing from Southeast Missouri State University and her bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Missouri in Columbia. In December, she'll add to her credentials when she completes her master's degree in nursing/family nurse practitioner at St. Louis University.

"I am internationally certified as a sexual assault nurse examiner for all age groups: pediatric, adolescent and adults," Lisa says. "I am a trained forensic interviewer. I am an American Heart Association CPR instructor. I have worked in all areas of adult critical care, neonatal intensive care, and in emergency services/trauma center."

She's been with Beacon Health Center for three years, working primarily in the Child Advocacy Center and Adult Rape Crisis Center.

In nominating Lisa for Best in Nursing, Kelly Barks wrote that "Lisa not only gives a voice to children who are a victim of physical and sexual abuse, but she has dedicated her career to make a better world for children."

Read on to learn more about Lisa Baker, her work and what makes her the Best in Nursing for 2012:

Flourish: Tell me a little about your work with Beacon Health Center. How long have you worked there?

Lisa Baker: I have been at Beacon Health Center for three years. My work is primarily in the Child Advocacy Center and Adult Rape Crisis Center areas of Beacon Health Center's services. I do forensic interviews and physical examinations of children, adolescents and adults who have allegations or concerns regarding sexual abuse, sexual assault, physical abuse, neglect, exposure to illicit drug manufacturing/use, and as witnesses to violent acts. Any person with concerns regarding a child who may be being abused should call the Missouri Child Abuse Hotline at 800-392-3738. Children are referred to Beacon Health Center through Missouri Children's Division or law enforcement personnel.

Forensic interviews and physical examinations are done in a child-friendly setting with the child receiving full, undivided attention. I have worked to help launch Beacon Health Center's Adult Sexual Violence Hotline, 877-820-6278. This hotline provides adults who have been victim of sexual assault direct access to our services. I have taken steps to initiate a program in our Southeast Missouri service area called the Drug Endangered Child Program.

Flourish: What is the Drug Endangered Child Program and your role with it?

LB: The Drug Endangered Child Program, just like our other child advocacy services, uses a multidisciplinary team approach. The National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children defines a drug exposed child: "A drug exposed child is one whose brain and/or body has been affected because his/her parents used drugs and alcohol during pregnancy, and/or who is living in a home where drugs are abused and/or illegally made, sold, traded or given away." The multidisciplinary team working with these children initially involves law enforcement, children's service workers and Beacon Health Center staff. Children identified in these potentially unsafe settings are brought to Beacon Health Center where they can decontaminate from potentially harmful substances on their skin and clothes by taking a thorough shower. These children are dressed in clean clothes and are provided the opportunity for a physical examination and to participate in a forensic interview. The long-term effects of exposure to dangerous chemicals during the process of making illicit drugs are not well known. Beacon Health Center has a guideline in place where these children are evaluated over a period of time to monitor for signs and symptoms of health problems which may be related to such exposure.

Flourish: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

LB: The most rewarding part of my job is spending time with each client. For that moment in time, that client is the focus. For that moment in time, that client knows they have my undivided attention and care.

Flourish: What is the most challenging part of your job?

LB: The most challenging part of my job is also the most rewarding part. Spending time with our clients can be very challenging in a variety of ways and it often weighs on the heart and soul.

Flourish: What is something about your work people are surprised to learn?

LB: I find people are surprised to hear that no part of the physical examination given to children, adolescents or adults hurts. No one is made to do anything they do not feel comfortable doing. Great care is taken during physical exams to maintain our clients' comfort and privacy. There are no shots, no needles and no painful or scary things at the Child Advocacy Center.

Flourish: What do you do in your spare time?

LB: What is spare time? When I have spare time I love to spend it with my family. I also enjoy reading and traveling.

Flourish: What advice would you give to teenagers who want to pursue a career in nursing?

LB: Go for it! My best advice is to never be afraid to try something new. There are so many different avenues for nurses. Explore various schools of nursing and find out what is required for admission and what courses you will be expected to take. Spend some time shadowing a nurse and see firsthand what being a nurse is like. Nursing is a field of lifelong learning. New research and advancements are made each day and great nurses evolve by implementing best practices while caring for their patients. Nursing takes heart, and if you aren't ready for a stranger to potentially break your heart, you may not be ready to be a nurse.

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