Brother’s Care Inspired Nurse Who Teaches Others
One in an ongoing series
Diana Irven was inspired to become a nurse when her brother died at the age of 18; she was four years younger.
“Seeing him in the hospital and the great care he received,” she says, motivated her to go to nursing school.
But it was many years later that Irven had another revelation that propelled her into the career she has now: clinical nurse educator at Einstein Healthcare Network.
Irven found that teaching was “my niche and passion,” she says, when she taught a challenging course in a complicated topic – Functional Independence Measure – in a previous Einstein position.
She didn’t quite understand the topic herself – how to measure the improvement of patients who are completing rehabilitation – and she immersed herself in learning about it in order to convey it to nurses in her class.
“I’m not a rehab nurse, and I was kind of embarrassed that I didn’t understand some of the pieces myself,” she says. So Irven read everything she could about it, and then taught it so well that she received effusive thanks from members of the class.
“I was able to convey it in a way that the nurses felt they got it and understood it,” she says. “It was very gratifying when they came to me and said, ‘I never knew or understood this before’ and thanked me.”
When the position as nurse educator came up five years ago, Irven knew it was the right job for her. She provides orientation and onboards all new nurses and nursing support staff in Einstein’s urban core, about 50 or 60 positions a month.
Irven says she’s always been described as upbeat and “bubbly,” and thinks that her personality is an asset when welcoming nurse recruits to Einstein.
Shamit Chaki, for one, thinks she is indispensable.
“Diana contributes to orienting and educating new hires,” says Chaki, head of Einstein’s Crisis Response Center, which cares for people in mental health or addiction crisis.
“Without her help, we’d be in a difficult position with staffing units, and we are lucky to have her. The work of orientation might be overlooked by many, but is critical to our operation.”
But there’s a new anxiety about the work these days, Irven says, because the pandemic has upended the world of nursing. Due to significant nursing shortages worldwide, nurses are working harder than ever.
Einstein’s nursing leadership continues to aggressively recruit and hire as many nursing personnel as possible. “Because of how fast the process is moving, we often have changes at the last minute as to how many to expect, ” she says.
“We may have planned for 20 new hires and all of a sudden, we find out that five or 10 more people are expected to show.”
“I’m a planner, my life is very predictable,” she says. “I know what I’m doing this time next year. The pandemic has helped me stay flexible, though, because I often can’t plan as well as I did before.”
Irven gets relief from the tension of work – and being the mother of an active 4-year-old boy – in the gym. She also relies on her strong religious faith, something imparted by her parents, who emigrated here from Poland in the 1970s.
“I’m a first-generation American,” she says. ”I definitely grew up humbled and appreciative of everything we had.”
Irven and her parents maintained their positive outlook despite the tragedy they endured when Irven’s brother died after an accident. She says the terrible loss gave direction to her life, which unexpectedly changed in mid-course.
“You never know what you’re meant to be when you grow up.”