Director, Cardiopulmonary Critical Care and Simulation Educator
The University of New Mexico, Health Sciences Center
Albuquerque, NM United States
Industry: Health Care
Field: Cardiopulmonary Critical Care and Simulation Education
After more than 20 years in her position as a cardiopulmonary critical care and simulation educator with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Lorena Beeman still looks forward to the details of each day. Whether they involve teaching a new group of nurses, reviewing articles for statistical and referential accuracy, or presenting at a university or professional organization, Ms. Beeman keeps a specific area of her expertise in mind. “I really can take something complex and make it simple,” she says. Much of this is credited to her specialization in educational simulations, the techniques of which she began mastering early in her career and now incorporates into her curriculum and presentations.
Ms. Beeman began working as a nurse in 1982, building the foundation of her career that would span more than three decades and numerous significant changes in health care. She continues to keep these new developments at the forefront of her efforts, in order to ensure that nurses and other medical professionals have access to the knowledge they need. As such, Ms. Beeman enjoys the research aspects of her position, and the constant challenges that nursing and education bring to her career. She also finds fulfillment in seeing the theories and techniques she has taught her students being utilized to improve patient care.
Ms. Beeman’s efforts in health care have been recognized by several respected publications and organizations, including a local chapter of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, from which she received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, she has contributed several chapters on simulation in relation to nursing in texts by Richard Kyle Jr. and Bosseau Murray, MD. In the coming years, Ms. Beeman looks forward to continuing her work with organizations and publications like these, as well as continuing to research new health care topics on which to focus new consultations and presentations.
Conversation with Lorena E. Beeman, RN, CCVT
Worldwide Publishing: On what topics do you consider yourself to be an expert?
Lorena E. Beeman: Simulation theory, balloon pumps, immunology and critical care pharmacology, as well as cardiopulmonary and electrophysiology. I was part of the first electrophysiology lab established in New Mexico.
What characteristics help to separate you from your competitors?
I’m able take something complex and make it simple. I’m also one of the few nurses who have significantly used simulation theory throughout my career. I familiarized myself with the techniques and then incorporated them into what I teach.
What motivates you?
My continuous love of learning and teaching. I wake up in the morning thinking about the details of my day: What my group is going to be like, what they’re learning, and what I’m going to be teaching them. I really enjoy presentations.
What lessons have you learned as a professional in your field?
I have learned how to recognize the signs of when you’re getting close to burnout, and being proactive about it. It’s important to stay motivated, challenged and happy in your career.
What short-term and long-term career goals are you currently pursuing?
In the short term, I’m focusing on my health and healing. I’m also staying focused on keeping up with the journals and getting back into Sigma Theta Tau and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. I’m interested in looking into more consultations and guest presentations in the long term, and investigating which presentation topics in health care would be a good fit for me.
What is the most difficult obstacle or challenge you have faced in pursuit of your goals?
My health has been a big factor. I was 26 when I developed myocarditis and needed to be fitted with pacemakers. Intimidation and bullying among my colleagues, superiors and administrators has also been a big challenge.
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
Nurses need to know more about how to utilize stimulation. Electronic medical recordkeeping is also very significant in terms of document sharing and potential HIPAA violations. I think one of the most important things is also learning how to cope with exposure to death and dying, since it easily leads to burnout.
What are some questions that an individual interested in your services can ask to ensure a more productive relationship?
I’d like people to be forthcoming and honest with what they want to know, and to keep in contact. I don’t like having to guess when it comes to helping others.
Did you ever consider pursuing a different career path or another profession? If yes, how did you end up working in your current field?
I was raised by my grandparents. My grandfather, who was ex-military, told me there were only two paths for women: Office work and nursing. I grew up hearing that I was going to be a nurse, so I became one. I was the first in my family to go to college, and then I earned a master’s degree.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
My career is continually changing and challenging. I also find fulfillment in seeing my students succeed and using what they’ve learned from me to provide better care for their patients.
What is your favorite or least favorite work-related task to do and why?
Anything related to clinical care and patient care. I love doing research and I don’t believe any topic should be allowed to become stagnant.
My least favorite aspect is direct patient education. It’s a completely different form of education, and I find it difficult to restructure information based on different levels of education. I rely on a group of nurses who I’ve taught to handle this aspect of the job.
What advice can you offer fellow members or others aspiring to work in your industry?
Visit websites for professional organizations and consider finding a member to shadow. This is a great way to get an idea about the cultural environment and identify leaders who take orientation seriously. You can also look for hospitals that have residency programs. They’ll allow you to rotate through on the track you’re interested in pursuing.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the patient drives everything and that you have to be a team player. If you’re unwilling to do the unglamorous parts of the job, then nursing isn’t for you.
Who have been your mentors or people who have greatly influenced you?
Patricia A. Benner, who appears in every book about nursing philosophy. Mary Blessing, who runs the nurse residency program, simulation department and nurse education department at the University of New Mexico Hospital, was instrumental in mentoring me about leadership. My personal mentor is Julie Dax. She made me into the nurse I am today.
What changes have you observed in your industry/field since you started?
There have been many significant changes in health care since I started in 1982. We were just beginning to transition patients who’d had heart attacks out of 10-day hospital stays. There are now stents and multiple new drugs that manage cardio risk. Understanding pathophysiology is also important today in treating the whole patient.
Some of the biggest changes are morbid obesity as a diagnosis all by itself, as well as depression having its own pathophysiology.
How do you see these changes affecting the future of your industry?
Communication between different teams of doctors has a huge impact on the overall care of the patient, so it’s important for doctors to remain in contact about shared patients.