Nurses Make a Difference
Nurses Month Spotlight: Tracey Kirschner
Each year, Nurses Week begins on May 6th and ends on May 12th — on Florence Nightingale’s birthday. In the spring of 2020, the American Nurses Association (ANA) extended Nurses Week to a month-long celebration that honors the extraordinary contributions of nurses during the pandemic and beyond.
During this time, all are encouraged to thank nurses for the vital role they play in the healthcare industry. The 2022 theme for Nurses Month is: “Nurses Make a Difference.”
Here at Gaudenzia, we have amazing nurses helping our clients navigate a path back to health every day. This week, as part of our ongoing celebration of nurses, we’d like to highlight a few of the dedicated nurses on our staff.
Today, the spotlight is on Tracey Kirschner.
Tracey is the Nurse Manager at Gaudenzia’s Lower Bucks, a substance use and co-occurring disorders treatment facility. She’s been with the organization for just about 11 years and is currently working on becoming a Nurse Practitioner. Tracey has five children and six grandchildren, which means when she’s not working — or getting in her daily yoga practice — you can likely find her babysitting.
Tracey was kind enough to answer our questions about nursing in the SUD treatment field. Here’s what she had to say:
What is Unique About Nursing in the SUD Treatment Field?
You will always see something you have never seen before. The doctors depend on you to be their eyes and ears, so you become very good at using your clinical skills. You have a lot more autonomy than other places, and you get to spend time getting to know your patients and feel like maybe you helped change someone’s life.
How Do You Connect with Gaudenzia’s Mission?
My son is in recovery. When he was at his worst, Gaudenzia stepped in — he went to Fresh Start in Delaware. He was doing well, and then he relapsed. Again, Gaudenzia stepped in. That was almost four years ago.
He had been to treatment so many times, they would not pay for it again, so when Gaudenzia stepped in, they saved his life. That is how I see Gaudenzia. It’s why I have stayed for so long because they are that one place where you can go to, and no matter what, get treatment.
What is Your Team Like?
I have the best team of nurses, all of whom have been with us since we opened — give or take a year. They are hardworking, dedicated nurses who strive to put the clients first, above all else. They do not call out, and they work long hours for less money than they could make in the hospital, but they stay here because they believe in Gaudenzia and why we are here.
What is the Most Difficult Part of Your Job, and How Do You Overcome it?
The hardest part has been the death. I have been a nurse since 1995, and I have never seen the number of deaths the way I have with the opiate epidemic. An entire generation of young adults are dying. We had more than 100,000 Americans die from a drug overdose. Since the start of the 21st century, more than 1 million people have overdosed. As a nurse, you are taught to save lives. So, when someone dies, you take it to heart. You get to know these clients and you think about their parents, spouse, and children — not to mention the effect it has on staff.
What’s Your Biggest Accomplishment at Gaudenzia So Far?
We started to see an increase in the number of overdoses and realized we needed to get Narcan out into the community. We went to Bucks County Drug and Alcohol and partnered with them to provide Narcan, training, and first aid training to parents, family members, and clients.
The first weekend we did a training, a father left with Narcan in his pocket, went to work the next day, and while leaving his office to go to lunch, found a young man overdosing. He used his Narcan and saved the person’s life.