What did you do this summer?

Bridget Seelinger: UPMC Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic

This summer at WPIC has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I found my passion, and I have learned important lessons on how to be a better nurse and a better person. I was assigned to the Atrium, the Psychiatric Trauma Unit. It is a safe, welcoming environment that has a strong sense of community, which is essential for survivors of psychiatric trauma. Survivors do not know how to trust, how to love, how to laugh, how to live their lives as functioning adults. They have been surviving for so long that they don’t know how to do anything but just survive. The Atrium is a sanctuary for these patients where they can be safe and recover from the trauma they have survived.

One of the most interesting patients that I cared for was a refugee from Myanmar. Fleeing ethnic genocide, L spoke her native language Chen and was a challenge to treat because of the language barrier. What I learned, though, was that psychiatry was about more than speaking. L was scared but I helped her feel safe. We all showed her how to overcome the trauma that she was fleeing with simple acts such as a touch of the hand, a smile, and a bag of Sunchips while watching the sunset, all without English. L showed me the true power of nursing in psychiatry because as she discovered joy again, the whole nursing staff on the Atrium did as well.

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