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Q&A with Julia Elsisy, BSN Accelerated Career Entry (ACE) ‘07 - Dubai

September 11, 2014

Julia by ruinsQ:  Hi, Julia! Tell us about where you work. How did you find your way to that role?

A:  I am currently the Senior Staff Nurse at the American Hospital in Dubai.  My responsibilities are really that of an Assistant Manager and Educator. How did I find my way . . .  with a lot of bumps!  Nursing is really a culmination of my whole life.  As a musician, newspaper publisher, and mother, I have found that all my skills are utilized. And, of course, nursing is just fun!

Q:  What brought you from the United States to the United Arab Emirates?

A:  I recently got married and my husband is Egyptian American, but his family still lives in Egypt. I thought it would be nice to live closer to them, so I could get to know the culture and his family. And I figured that since I was still relatively young, why not?!  This is an adventure of a lifetime!

Q:  What are some of the core responsibilities of your job?

A:  As Senior Staff Nurse, I am basically an assistant manager of the department.  I oversee the staffing and education of the nurses and healthcare assistants. I have come into this job during a period of intense change, as we are merging the Urgent Care Clinic and the Emergency Room, so my responsibilities are two-fold:  to ensure a smooth transition and to educate the Urgent Care Nurses to be Emergency Room Nurses. It’s quite a challenge as the ER has been neglected over the past few years. We have a lot of work to do. 

I have introduced an actual Triage class and am currently designing and implementing an Emergency Room Nurse Class. Working closely with the ER doctors and UCC doctors, we are in the process of submitting a proposal to change our Triage System from the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) to the Emergency Severity Index 5-level Triage evaluation system. We are also introducing Shared Governance and Jean Watson’s human caring theory as the basis for practice in the ER and proposing it for the whole hospital. And I’ve started all this in just under eight weeks! It’s extremely challenging but I love a good challenge!

Q:  What aspects of your Drexel education are you infusing into that work? Are there any lessons you’ve carried with you that are making a particular difference?

Julia with HusbandA:  Drexel provided me with the core values that I always carry with me, especially to be a patient advocate! The nursing critical thinking skills I learned during my time as an ACE student have enabled me to advance faster, and the support I have always gotten from the professors and administration at the College of Nursing and Health Professions continue to give me the belief that I can accomplish anything.

Q:  How does nursing in Dubai compare to the nursing profession in the United States? What’s similar and what’s different?

A: Well you can throw HIPPA out the window; privacy means something entirely different here. A patient cannot come into a hospital thinking that what he or she tells the doctor is private. Families are more involved here in that they make the decisions for the patients and many times we are forbidden to even discuss the patient’s diagnosis with the patient themselves. Also there is no such thing as a “Do not resuscitate” (DNR) or advanced directives. But nurses are nurses no matter where you go. Yes there are rules and regulations, but it’s how you adapt and change that makes the difference. You always remember that your patients come first!

Q:  What do you love most about your job?

A:  Can I answer everything? I guess because it is such a challenge right now and I have the opportunity to make so many changes that will bring about better patient care, it makes the job thoroughly exciting.

Julia by railingQ:  Tell us about life in Dubai! What do you like about living and working there?

A: Dubai is hot and humid and very expensive! I will say that knowing that this was just a desert in 1972 and seeing it as a thriving metropolis in 2014 is mind blowing! We had a tour of the Dubai Museum as part of our hospital orientation and they have an entire section on how they desalinate the water from the Persian Gulf to provide water and electricity for Dubai. It’s truly fascinating. 

Living in Dubai is like living in any major metropolis in the world: busy, busy, busy! It’s 90% expatriates living here, from Western countries, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, and Pakistan, just to name a few. Only about 10% of the population here is actually Emirati! So it’s kind of like living in New York, Philadelphia, or Washington, D.C.  . . . just hotter!

Q:  What advice do you have for students or new graduates who are beginning their careers?

A:  When I first graduated from Drexel’s ACE Program, I came back and guest lectured for a few semesters on what to expect and how to make it through the first year.

First and foremost remember you have to have a balance between your work and your home life. Take care of yourself! Second, the HESI and NCLEX aren’t the end of the world . . . they are just the beginning! 

Next, choose the right hospital or organization. Being part of a great team can make all the difference in the world.   When you go in for your interview, remember you are interviewing them as well. Do you see yourself as part of this team? How do the nurses work together? How do the nurses and doctors work together?

And remember that the heart can heal! The interactions you have now with your co-workers, patients and families will affect you later. Your patients can get to your heart and yours to theirs if you let them in. And know that even on your worst day, you are making a difference.

Q:   Is there anything else you want to leave with us?

A:  I came up with a catchy slogan for the Nursing Department at Hahnemann Hospital before I left and it really does hold true for ALL nurses no matter who or where we are: 

“We do because we can . . . We can because we care . . . We care because it’s who we are!”