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On one particular mid-March day, the sun finally broke through an overcast sky. But even on the cloudiest days, nothing much phases Stephen Sims.
While others may feel a little down on rainy days, Stephen shared he's actually always enjoyed them. After all, Stephen has plenty of reason to be happy. He's officially the latest Cook Children's nurse to be named a DFW Great 100 Nurse.
"I'm truly humbled and honored to make that list," he shared. "But nursing here at Cook Children's really doesn't feel like a job but rather being surrounded by family."
That feeling is what drew Stephen to Cook Children's doorstep nearly eight years ago as a nurse resident.
Growing up in south Texas and attending nursing school at the University of Texas, Stephen knew he wanted to work in pediatrics but naturally thought Dell Children's in Austin was the logical place for him. It was when a friend who graduated the year before him gave him a tour of her new workplace - Cook Children's - that it just fell into place. Cook Children's felt like home.
Just like all those that are part of our nurse residency program, Stephen's work ran the gamut across the medical center and he got an idea of what and where he thought he wanted to land.
"When we got our placements, Deborah Rubinson [AVP of Organizational and Professional Development] told us, 'We spent time getting to know you and you may think you will end up one place but you end up somewhere completely different,'" Stephen recalled. "That's how my story went too. While TCU/RCU wasn't my top pick for placement, they did know what was best for me as a nurse. It turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me."
This open-mindedness and overall optimistic outlook is not uncommon for Stephen. "There's a phrase that I apply in life and it fit perfectly in this situation...'And that’s OK!' he explained. "You see, I firmly believe that no matter what happens, everything's going to turn out how it's meant to be."
By not only accepting but embracing the opportunities that he may not have known he wanted, Stephen has grown professionally from that young nurse resident to a TCU/RCU charge nurse to his current role as a clinical educator supporting the psychiatric unit.
"I've always loved whenever I got to work with an anxious parent and celebrate the little wins with them," he said. "Seeing those parents grow into confident, independent experts in their own child’s care is easily the most rewarding part of being a long-term care nurse like in TCU/RCU."
While he's been away from the bedside for a few years, Stephen continues to carry with him that same sense of satisfaction through staff education.
"Oftentimes our clinical staff may not know or understand how to care for our patients in the psychiatric unit because there's not a physical diagnosis that can be seen on a chart, scan or with their own eyes. Rather it's their behaviors, which are sometimes easier to judge than address," Stephen said. "When we can educate them and get them to see those patients through a different lens and see that they are still sick but just in a different way, it's a victory for the staff member and, obviously, the patient, as well."
It's in this role of enriching our clinical staff, including his fellow nurses, where Stephen flourishes. "There's always a lesson to be learned in something and looking for those chances to better ourselves will be best for all of us," he said.
This attitude of looking for the silver lining, even on a gray, cloudy day, is exactly why Stephen was deservedly named a Great 100 Nurse. And when we all share that approach to work and life, saying #WeAreCookChildrens can be the bright spot that others look forward to daily.