Meet Michelle Callanan, RN, and Julisa Burgos, RN, transplant nurses in the Pediatric Transplant Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
MC: I always looked up to my aunt, who has been a nurse since before I was born. I think I idolized her before I even knew what she did, and then as I grew up it just naturally became the right path for me.
JB: My aunt was a hospice nurse in Puerto Rico and I saw the impact she made on her patients’ lives. I always knew I wanted to help people so this just felt right. The moment I stepped foot in a hospital, I was hooked and never looked back.
What drew you to Boston Children’s?
MC: Before I knew I was going to be a nurse, I knew I would at least work with kids in some way. This hospital has shaped me and it’s the only place I see myself for years to come.
What is the role of a transplant nurse? Why is this specialty so important for patients and families?
JB: The transplant nurse is the glue that keeps everything together. We care for the patient 24/7 at the bedside. We serve as healers, caregivers, counselors, teachers, advocates and chameleons who adapt to needs that the patient may have during their stay. Because of all this, our role is beyond necessary for the best care of our patients.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
MC: I love coming to work every day because I know every day will be different. I enjoy being challenged and love spending time at the bedside as much as possible. Some kids are in and out in a week or so, and only come back occasionally, while some are long-term patients who we get to know well over time. The mix of patient populations — and all of my coworkers — really helps balance the hard and stressful days. And there’s nothing better than seeing a healthy child run down the hallway for a visit, remembering being their nurse many years ago and seeing how far they have come!
JB: The kids! When we are complaining over a hangnail, they are fighting for their lives. They are my heroes and remind us of the true definition of a fighter.
What are some of the challenges of your job?
JB: At times, the uncertainty can be challenging. A transplant isn’t a cure, but it is hope. The waiting process can be brutal on families. So seeing a fighter have to fight against even more odds can be very hard.
What are your interests and hobbies outside of work?
MC: I love to travel anywhere I can with my husband. We recently spent our honeymoon in French Polynesia and it was the most amazing trip of our lives. Now we’re planning our next big adventure. I also have a 4-year-old niece and 1-year-old nephew who I try to spend as much time as I can with on my days off.
JB: I love to travel and love spending time with family. If money wasn’t an obstacle, I would love to travel the world. And anyone that knows me, knows that I am not “me” without my family. I have three children, a nephew who is really like my firstborn and a loving boyfriend. They are all my heart and what drives me to be the best person I can be.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
MC: I was convinced I was going to be an astronaut for as long as I can remember, which is really funny to me now because even the thought of being in a confined space like that makes me nauseous!
JB: Believe or not, it was a tossup between an astronaut and a fighter pilot! I loved speed and I was beyond fascinated with space.
If you weren’t a transplant nurse, what would you be doing?
MC: That’s hard to imagine because it’s all I’ve known for over 10 years, but maybe I would be a baker or own a restaurant.
JB: I would be a high school counselor. I love teens and feel that I’m easy to talk to, so I could be a great asset to this population.