Tracy Barefield has been in nursing for 20-plus years and has worked in a variety of specialties, such as hematology, oncology, pulmonary, and infectious disease. When given the opportunity to pursue a hematology/oncology nursing role at Children’s of Alabama, she was thrilled to make that change. “I had been doing adult care for so long, and I was really excited about the idea of transitioning that expertise over to working with children,” she explains.
In Children’s hematology/oncology department, a typical day for Tracy usually means performing a number of different types of procedures that she’s used to doing—things like transfusions and taking labs. But it also includes some newer procedures—one of the things that attracted her to Children’s in the first place. “Not only was I excited to try pediatric care, but I also felt coming to Children’s would be new and fresh and provide new opportunities to learn and perform new things,” she says. “That has certainly been the case.”
When she came to Children’s five years ago, she learned to perform newer procedures, specifically apheresis. In fact, she’s only one of a few nurses at the hospital that’s trained to perform the procedure. “It’s a brand new procedure for me, and it has been extremely fascinating,” Tracy says. “I was very excited to learn it, and I’ve also been amazed at how it improves quality of life for children.”
In addition to building upon her experience and expertise, Tracy has also been busy building relationships with the kids she gets to see each and every day. “You almost feel like they belong to you too,” she says. “I don’t just look at it from a nursing standpoint. They aren’t just patients. I feel like I’m treating my family.”
Part of treating our patients includes doing whatever possible to comfort them during treatment, because being at the hospital can be scary and difficult for young children. That often means having movies, coloring books, and games on hand to entertain them, as well as just providing a smiling and comforting face. “Our patients remember their caregivers and are excited to see us,” Tracy says. “It’s an amazing feeling when they are comfortable with you and actually happy to see you. It’s really rewarding and motivating.”
Also serving as a significant motivator to Tracy is the camaraderie she’s experienced since joining Children’s. Whether it’s with the other nurses, the physicians, or the nurse practitioners, the atmosphere at the hospital is one of teamwork. “There is an incredible team here at Children’s, and we all are here with the same goal,” Tracy says. “We are all here for the children and to give them the best care possible. Because everyone works together as a team, it’s a really comfortable atmosphere that makes it easy to stay focused on what’s best for our patients.”