A heart for helping others
Audrey Turnipseed, RN, is making a difference in our cardiac step-down unit
“I feel very blessed to get to be in these moments with these families. It’s a very stressful and sad and difficult time, because it’s not always a promising future, and I try to always remember that.” – Audrey Turnipseed, RN
Audrey Turnipseed’s nursing career started when her high school offered a program that allowed her to earn her certified nursing assistant certificate. With it, she worked in local nursing homes for five years while also working toward her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Tarleton State University.
After graduating as a registered nurse, Audrey went to work in the cardiac step-down unit at an adult hospital. While she loved what she did, she was intrigued when a college friend and fellow nurse approached her about applying at Cook Children’s.
“She told me how much fun pediatrics is,” said Audrey. “She also told me that I am too goofy not to work in pediatrics.”
Audrey started working in the cardiac step-down unit at our Fort Worth medical center in 2021. She cares for patients after heart surgery, while educating and preparing their families to help with their transition back home. Audrey’s days consist of feedings, administering medications, helping with therapies, educating caregivers and being a source of support for her patients and their families.
Audrey admits that she is “the goofy nurse” who is never afraid to embarrass herself. She is willing to do just about anything to see her patients smile: She sings, dances, tells jokes and draws silly pictures.
“I love that we can have fun while we work and get to mix in play,” said Audrey. “These kids are so resilient. They don’t realize the battle that they are facing. They wake up smiling and they have an open chest! They are such an encouragement to me. And I get to play and cuddle them, and there is nothing better.”
In her short time here, Audrey has already been recognized for her excellent work. She was nominated by a patient’s family and won the DAISY Award, a system wide recognition for nurses who provide excellent care and kindness. Audrey was also recognized as Unit Guide of the Year and was nominated for both Preceptor of the Year and Cook Children’s Top 10 Nurses.
In addition to the kindness she shows patients and families, Audrey also shares her gifts with fellow nurses. Our Nurse Residency program supports new graduates rising to the peak of professional practice as guided by the Cook Children’s Promise and values. Audrey is a great mentor to these nurses when they are on the cardiac step-down unit.
“We were all new once, and I feel it is important to be welcoming. And I love the heart, so it’s easy for me to share that passion with people. It’s just an easy connection for me to talk to residents because they’re excited to get started, and I am excited to show them cardiac stuff,“ said Audrey. “I also like to talk to them about taking care of themselves too, because nursing is stressful. I haven’t forgotten what it is to be new yet, so it’s just really easy for me to connect with them.”
Audrey is part of the magic that happens here at Cook Children’s, for her patients, other nurses and caregivers. But she gets back just as much as she gives.
“There was one mom who was very thoughtful, even with everything she had going on,“ recalled Audrey. “Mom got a picture of us high-fiving. It was [her son’s] first time starting to open up to all of us, and he high-fived me and he has this big smile on his face. That’s probably one of my favorite moments. And I have been lucky enough to have quite a few of those. It just reminds me why I love coming here. Most people don’t get to say they love coming to their job, but I do. It’s easy to come here.”
No doubt, Audrey and her kind, goofy, welcoming presence makes it easier for our families to come here, too.