Tim Bryant’s interest in the nursing profession came about as a result of battling diabetes as a young child. He knew he wanted to help people, and nursing offered a hands-on environment in which to do it. Little did he know that his chosen career would lead him to the BWH Cartilage Repair Center (CRC).
While working as a surgical nurse at New England Surgicare in 1995, Bryant had the opportunity to assist Dr. Tom Minas, a surgeon affiliated with BWH’s Orthopedics Department, in repairing young arthritic knees. Bryant became very interested in Dr. Minas’ research and treatment methods.
“I eventually began requesting to be assigned to Minas’ cases whenever he was at the Center to operate,” recalls Bryant.
Bryant took his interests to the next level, reading everything he could get his hands on about the treatment of young arthritic knees. He even contacted Genzyme, a biomedical research company that markets a cartilage repair system through the culturing of a patient’s cartilage cells.
“I actually took a tour of Genzyme, which was very neat,” said Bryant. “I never would have guessed that my personal interest in repairing knees would evolve into such an amazing job opportunity.”
In 2000, Minas made Bryant an offer he couldn’t refuse. Bryant had been with New England Surgicare for just shy of six years when Minas approached him to help establish the BWH’s Cartilage Repair Center (CRC). Shortly thereafter, Bryant joined the BWH family as a research nurse.
“I knew Tim would be an excellent team player,” said Minas. “He helps provide top-notch, comprehensive patient care. I honestly do not think we could handle the sheer volume of patients without his expertise and assistance.”
“My role with the CRC is multi-faceted,” explains Bryant. “I more or less combine all aspects of patient care with education, research and technology.”
Bryant maintains a detailed weekly agenda to balance all of his tasks. For example, during a typical week, Monday and Tuesday are reserved for research and patient education, including phone calls to patients offering feedback or answering preoperative questions. On Wednesday, Bryant works on integrating technology and patient care by creating educational CD-ROMs, which contain individualized pre- and post-surgery instructions, images and information for each patient. He also catches up on research data entry and meets with Minas to discuss issues and concerns surrounding patient treatments.
“The CD-ROMs are really cutting-edge,” said Bryant. “We capture all patient data beginning with the first visit all the way through postoperative care, including images. This helps us provide a continuum of care that is really amazing, not only in terms of better preparing patients for the experience of surgery but also in working with physical therapists and other clinical staff at BWH and around the country.”
Thursday is devoted to clinical work. Bryant gathers research data, distributes patient questionnaires, and contacts new patients to determine their needs. He also follows up with postoperative patients and their physical therapists to facilitate care. Finally, Fridays are spent in the operating room.
“The variety of this job is really my bread and butter,” said Bryant. “I enjoy the whole spectrum of nursing, and this position definitely enables me to explore many different aspects of the nursing role. I have a lot of flexibility and a lot of autonomy, which creates a nice balance.”
Bryant is currently working to expand his role even further, not only developing the CRC Web site, but also trying to further ease the process of capturing patient data through the creation of an on-line, touch screen approach.
“I’ve always been a bit of a hacker when it comes to computers,” admits Bryant. “Lately I find myself delving into all sorts of technology books, trying to absorb as much as I can. There is always something new to explore.”
This March marks Bryant’s three-year anniversary with Minas and the CRC.
“Not many people can say they enjoy going to work every day,” said Bryant. “I can honestly say that this has been the highlight of my career as a nurse. It is hard work, but it is always well worth the constant opportunity to learn new things and to help patients on a personal level. My patients know my name and I am grateful that they do.”