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Meet America’s Most Amazing Nurse Finalist: Laura Clary
Manager of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination & Domestic Violence Programs, age 32
Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Maryland
- Manages a team of 13 forensic nurses and 5 victim advocates who see more than 400 cases a year
- Completed her forensic certifications while working full-time in the emergency department
- Raises money to fund sexual-assault examinations, which are offered at no charge to patients
Prevention: Can you explain your nursing specialty?
Laura Clary:I am a sexual assault forensic nurse examiner. I care for victims of sexual assault, child abuse, rape, human trafficking, intimate partner violence, and domestic violence.
Q: How do you make patients feel at ease on what is likely the worst day of their life?
A:A big part of my job is developing a rapport with my patients. I need to gain their trust. This is not always easy, especially for patients who may have been victimized by someone they trusted. I sit down with them, I listen to them, I do not place judgment. I take my time, however long that may be. I will wait until my patient is ready. When I do a forensic exam, I go at the patient’s own pace. I make sure they consent to each part of the exam and answer any questions they may have. I want to give them back some of the control that was taken from them.
Q: What are three words that sum up your workday?
A:Depending on the day, it can be very hectic, it can be very rewarding, and it can be sad.
Q: What’s one thing you’re proud of in your career?
A:What I’m most proud of is how much I have expanded our Safe Program. When I first started working in this profession, our program only cared for victims who were 13 years and older who were victims of sexual assault and rape. As I started expanding the program, we realized that we were missing a huge chunk of the population—children. I already had my pediatric certification, and I discussed it with the administration and my colleagues in the program, and they agreed that they would like to expand as well. I worked on getting all of them trained and certified, and now we can care for victims from birth until death—and not only victims of sexual assault but also child abuse and intimate partner violence and domestic violence. We’ve been able to branch out and reach a much larger part of the population that we were missing before.
Q: What one word would you use to describe what nurses are to their patients?
A:They’re dedicated. We come to work every single day ready to care for them. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the night the weekend, holidays; we take time away from our own families so we can go in and take care of yours.
Q: Do you have a motto or a mantra that you repeat to yourself to get through hard days?
A:We have quotes on our wall in our suite. One of them is, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”
Q: What is one thing you’d like to tell your patients?
A:I want each and every one of my patients to know that what happened to them was not their fault and they did not deserve it. And I want them to know that they are incredibly brave.
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