Childhood Dream Realized: Florida Native Enjoys Every Aspect Of Nursing
By Matt Skoufalos
“There’s a piece of the puzzle for everyone, and you have to work together to make that come together and become one. We are the part that molds the team together.” – Lynn Creach
Growing up in Lakeland, Fla., Lynn Creach, CNOR, CRNFA, can recall wanting to be a nurse from the time she was a child.
“I’ve been a nurse forever,” Creach said.
She entered the profession almost immediately after high school, earning her nursing certificate through community college. At the time, she said, “they were just pushing people through the program because there was such a shortage of nurses.” It was just the beginning of a life of professional education that started on the medical surgical floor in 1976.
When Creach began her career, “the concept of nursing was so different than it is today,” she said. Creach cared for 25 to 30 patients at a time, supporting those going into surgery or coming out into recovery from heart attacks or strokes. Doctors’ orders were “chicken scratch” and charts were kept on paper.
Instead of specializing within her field from the moment of her graduation, Creach “really was exposed to everything as a young nurse,” which “really set a good balance for me.” Nonetheless, she “kept begging for them to let me go to the operating room.”
“I had only seen a few [surgical] cases in nursing school,” Creach said. “No one got to go in the OR. The doors were closed, and I was just very curious about it.”
Five years into her career, Creach finally got an interview with an OR director at a different hospital. Even though taking the job meant a salary cut, Creach signed on “and never looked back.”
“It was the foundation for me in the operating room,” she said.
Lakeland was a small town, and when patients came to the operating room, she would recognize them from church, school, or around town. For some people, the intimacy might have been intimidating, but for Creach it was “very rewarding.”
“People see your face and they know it’s going to be OK,” she said. “Even today, I just walk up and hold their hand, and they know [they’re] not alone.”
Creach worked as a circulator from 1981 to 1990, when she had the opportunity to become a first assistant — a position which, at the time, lacked a formal description. All the training was on the job.
“You had to be certified in the operating room to take the course, so even though I was already functioning as a first assistant, I got the education to go along with it on paper,” Creach said. “I sat for the first certification they offered for an RFNA.”
For Creach, the position was a perfect fusion of her duties as a patient caregiver and a member of the nursing team. Just as she had comforted patients who were in need of a friendly face during their vulnerable moments in the hospital, Creach said she saw those same looks of relief on the faces of her fellow nurses who knew she was there to help support their roles.
“That nurse that works for the hospital has a responsibility, and it’s amazing [how] when someone like myself walks in the room, their face is, ‘Thank God you’re here,’ ” she said. “They know that we’re going to take up the slack when they can’t be there with the patient.”
“That’s why it’s so important to have the assistants in the room, not only for the doctor, but for the patient, and the staff,” Creach said. “There’s a piece of the puzzle for everyone, and you have to work together to make that come together and become one. We are the part that molds the team together.”
From 1990 to 2007, Creach was a CRNFA with a clinic in Lakeland, Fla., that had a pool of first assistants varying in experience from scrub techs to RFNAs, she said. In 2007, she accepted a position with Intralign Inter-Operative Support of Tampa, Fla., as they staffed a private nursing team at a local medical center. Two years after that, Intralign brought her to a facility in Brevard County, where the company established another team with her as its anchor.
“We are able to cut down on the surgeon’s time, help turn the room over, and just offer guidance to those new nurses that are taking care of those patients,” she said.
One of the reasons a nurse with Creach’s skill set and professional veterancy is so sought after is because the retirement of a seasoned professional truly means that the field is losing an employee with a wealth of irreplaceable experience. The comfort that younger nurses can derive from the guidance of a more senior supervisor is a valuable ingredient in the team chemistry on the surgical floor, she said.
“There’s a comfort zone there when someone like myself comes in,” Creach said. “It’s like a knowledge base for them, just someone to lean on, and I enjoy that. I like to teach people. When I first started out, someone would tell me about some equipment and I would look at them and say, ‘I have no idea what you’re saying,’ and yet nobody was there to have the time to teach.”
“Hands-on is one of the best tools to use in exploring and getting these new technologies out there,” she said. “I think it’s very important for these nurses to grab every chance. Every day is a school day, even now at work, because every patient is different. We all have the same makeup, but there’s always something a little bit different about all of us.”
An added complication of the pressure that comes from learning on the fly in a world of evolving technology is that it removes nurses’ focus from the bedside, where they are needed for the delivery of patient care, Creach said.
“I’ve taught a lot of physician assistants that you’re not just here for the surgeon, you’re here for the patient,” she said. “You are that patient’s eyes, ears, everything. You are their protector. You are there to keep them safe because they can’t take care of themselves.”
For those reasons and more, Creach said, she doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon.
“I just love what I do, and that’s why it’s so important to teach the younger nurses all that I can,” she said. “It’s much easier knowing that you’re there for a reason and everyone wants you there, everyone appreciates you. It just brings the whole team together.”