Year of Graduation: 1980
Current Position: Nurse (Child Abuse Case Manager), Children's Hospitals & Clinics
Please give a brief description of your current position and where you're working.
I work as a nurse for Children's Hospitals and Clinics of MN. My current role is as a Child Abuse Case Manager. I am involved in assessing children who are thought to have been sexually or physically abused or neglected.
What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
I began my career at Children's as a new graduate nurse from St. Ben's. I started as a float nurse, filling in where needed throughout the hospital, including medical/surgical, isolation, adolescent, emergency, new born nursery and neonatal intensive care units. After three years floating, I felt called to emergency nursing and took a position in the emergency department. I stayed there for fifteen years learning many new skills including orthopedic, surgical, wound care, IV placement, IO placement and advanced life support skills. I was trained to suture lacerations and repaired many different types of skin wounds. After fifteen years I was ready for another challenge. I decided to turn my attention and nursing skills to abused and neglected children. Since joining the specialty clinic at Children's called Midwest Children's Resource Center, I have assisted in the assessment and treatment of child abuse and neglect victims. As part of my case manager responsibilities, I have been asked to testify in county and federal courts as an expert witness in the area of child abuse.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
Students who are interested in pediatric nursing in general or child abuse specifically would benefit from volunteering in children's hospitals or clinics, working in day cares, providing child care or park and recreation programs. There is no better way to become an expert in child development than to be exposed to a variety of different age groups in a variety of settings. Any employer seeking a new hire who can function seamlessly in a pediatric focused environment will be impressed and influenced by a wide variety of exposures to children.
What skills are important in your field?
In my current role, it is especially important to be sensitive to word choice and use. This is useful when interviewing children, documenting my work and testifying in a court setting. Specifically, a child abuse case manager must be well versed in conversing in a forensically sound manner with children ages 3-18 years. This means that my questions must be asked in a way that doesn't suggest any answers. For example, where were you when that happened? What happened next? Who saw that happen? Does that happen to someone else? My documentation is likely to be reviewed by prosecuting and defense attorneys and therefore every report that I generate must be thoughtful and precise. When testifying in various court settings, my words are carefully chosen to reflect exactly what was learned in each evaluation.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
Life-long learning was an important focus when I was a student at St. Ben's. As I grew and developed in different specialty areas, I drew on my foundation that St. Ben's helped me construct. A well rounded liberal arts education is a great basis for specialization in a variety of career fields. I have also been blessed to work for an organization that supports the professional development of its employees. From organizationally developed learning to national conferences attended in Minnesota, California, and Hawaii, Children's has encouraged and cheered me on for the past 31 years! I have also been especially encouraged and supported by my family: husband John Carney (SJU '80), daughter Shannon Carney Kast (Colorado College '03) and sons Michael (SJU '06) and Kevin (SJU '10).
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job?
The most satisfying and rewarding part of my role as a child abuse case manager is the opportunity to meet and influence healing in an unbelievably brave and heroic group of children who dare to speak out against people who have hurt and exploited them. To witness the transformation from keeping the biggest secret in their lives to an open discussion about the most private and personal hurts they have endured is humbling and inspiring. They are truly the unsung heroes in the fight against child abuse and neglect, I am merely their voice.