When Taylor Werkheiser arrives on the Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) at UI Hospitals & Clinics for her overnight shift, she reminds herself of the importance of patience.
It’s something of a mantra for Werkheiser, a psychiatric nursing assistant, as the CSU environment can be different each night.
“The overnight shift has a lot of admissions,” Werkheiser says of the 12-bed unit. “We often have people wake up with general anxiety.”
A caring colleague
Despite the challenges, Werkheiser enjoys the opportunity to bond with her patients.
“I like the nightshift,” she says. “I get more one-on-one, quality time with the patients. It provides more time for me to help them. If I was in that position, I know I would want someone to do that for me.”
While staffing on the overnight shift is often leaner than the day shift, the sense of camaraderie Werkheiser has with her colleagues is no less evident.
“On the overnight shift, we also have a security guard and two nurses,” she says. “So, no matter what we encounter during the night, working as a team help things get done very smoothly.”
In addition to her role in the CSU, Werkheiser is also a student at the University of Iowa, majoring in psychology and minoring in human relations and social work. After she earns her undergraduate degree, she plans to become an RN in the behavioral health field.
To help prepare for her eventual career, she began working as a nursing assistant “float” in August 2019, circulating between various behavioral health units at UI Hospitals & Clinics. A little over a year later, she assumed her current role in the CSU.
Werkheiser quickly realized she was exactly where she belonged, recognizing opportunities to connect with her patients.
“Something that’s important to me is making the patient feel as comfortable as possible,” she says. “We have a lot of things on the unit, like fidget toys or warm blankets, that I bring them. But I don’t like to just wait on them, I want to talk and interact with them.”
A bright future
Werkheiser’s experiences in the CSU are laying the foundation for the next stage in her life—that of an RN. And by all indications, she’ll make a fine one.
“What drives me to go above and beyond is I know I would want someone to do that for me,” she says. “I know every patient on my unit is going through their own problems, so it’s important to me to just give them a smile or help them through a hard time.”