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Episode 3: Trauma-Informed Self-Care

Host: Maddy Pearson, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
Heather Ankiewicz, RN; Varina Bednarz, BSN, CCRN, CEN; and Annie Lewis-O'Connor, PhD, NP-BC, MPH, FAAN

“With trauma-informed care, we don’t ask ‘what's wrong with you,’ but rather ‘what happened to you and, more importantly, how is it affecting you?’” – Annie Lewis-O’Connor, PhD, NP-BC, MPH, FAAN

The practice of applying trauma-informed care (TIC) is established in patient care, but what about applying it to yourself? In this episode, PACU nurses Heather Ankiewicz, RN, and Varina Bednarz, BSN, CCRN, CEN, speak about their experiences coping during the first surge of COVID-19. Annie Lewis-O’Connor, PhD, NP-BC, MPH, FAAN, articulates the benefits of using a trauma-informed approach to self-care and shares recommendations on how listeners can apply TIC during difficult experiences in their own lives.

Show Notes

Our experts have shared the following resources for listeners who wish to continue exploring the topics discussed in this episode:

About Our Guests

Annie Lewis-O’Connor, PhD, NP-BC, MPH, FAAN

Annie Lewis-O'ConnorDr. Annie Lewis-O’Connor is a dually board-certified pediatric and women’s health nurse practitioner. She is the founder and director of the C.A.R.E Clinic (Coordinated Approach to Resilience & Empowerment), which is committed to providing patient-centered and trauma-informed health care to people who have experienced individual, interpersonal and/or collective trauma. Dr. Lewis-O’Connor addresses violence from four pillars: research, policy, education and clinical practice. She is published in peer-reviewed journals and academic books on the topic of violence against women and children, trauma-informed care and the effects of trauma, violence and abuse on health.

Her current research is focused on measuring trauma-informed care models in adult health care settings and exploration of best ‘screening’ (inquiry) methods for trauma, violence and abuse. With funding from the Department of Justice, Dr. Lewis-O'Connor is seeking to improve health care services for people impacted by violence and abuse. As a clinical scholar with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2018-2021), she is focusing on health care leadership using a health equity lens.

Her current funding is exploring the return on investment when TIC models are utilized. Dr. Lewis-O'Connor served as chair of the National Health Collaborative on Violence and Abuse advancing policy and clinical practice for survivors of violence and abuse. Since 2010, she has served on the Executive Board of Casa Myrna, the oldest and longest standing shelter in Massachusetts for women and children.

Heather Ankiewicz, RN, Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

Heather AnkiewiczHeather is a registered nurse in the PACU at the Brigham. The last 26 years of her nursing career have been spent providing care to patients in the Cardiac Surgery Intermediate Care Unit, Day Surgery Unit and Perioperative Services.

Heather is well-respected as an experienced clinician and expert in ambulatory surgery nursing. She is known among her colleagues for her personal resiliency and insightfulness. One of her most valued roles in the PACU is wellness ambassador for change. In this role, she is instrumental to the unit’s wellness initiative by focusing on awareness, mindfulness and transparency in communication as a way to bring staff together.

Heather’s interest in integrative healing modalities has led her to achieve certifications in Reiki and acupressure and to pursue certifications in holistic and wellness nurse coaching.

Varina Bednarz, BSN, CCRN, CEN, Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

Varina BednarzVarina works as a registered nurse in the PACU at the Brigham. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from Boston College, where she was valedictorian and graduated Summa Cum Laude. Varina began her nursing career in the Emergency Department.

After a brief stint with travel nursing, Varina returned to Boston’s academic hospitals to gain additional experience in both critical care and emergency medicine. In her current role, she cares for patients after surgery in the PACU. She also supports her colleagues by assisting with training for new staff, covering charge nurse responsibilities and, most recently, co-launching the unit’s wellness initiative.

Varina is a practicing Reiki Master and Yin Yoga teacher. She is currently pursuing training and certification as an end-of-life doula. She continues to devote her career to blending traditional Western medicine and holistic practices to promote the well-being of her patients and colleagues, as well as herself.

Episode length: 38:11
Episode air date: April 7, 2021


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