Karin Shacklett: 15 minutes that absolutely matter

Karin Shacklett: 15 minutes that absolutely matter

Celebrating our Nurses through the extension of Year of the Nurse and Midwife

The World Health Organization recently extended the Year of the Nurse and Midwife through 2021. Here in the Providence Alaska Region, we’re celebrating our nurses through a series of stories from across our ministries. These stories spotlight our nurses, their incredible dedication to our Mission, their profession, and their patients. 


 

At most, Anchorage operating room nurse Karin Shacklett, BSN, RN, has only 15 minutes to personally connect with each patient who comes under her care at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

But to Shacklett, she makes sure those 15 minutes absolutely matter. It’s a challenge that she works hard to embrace during her 12-hour shifts.

"They can feel incredibly vulnerable,” Shacklett says of her patients, just before anesthesia starts to kick in. They’re often nervous. “Anything I can do to affirm that they are going to be ‘best taken care of’ can help.” 

Whether tossing in some classic dad jokes, becoming soul sisters or just holding their hand as they go to sleep, Shacklett makes it her mission to figure out how to connect with and comfort her patients in a short period of time. 

She readily admits that building a rapport and connection was easier when she was a labor and delivery nurse before coming to Alaska and Providence two years ago. But she doesn’t let the shortened amount of time deter her. And she’s always ready to meet people exactly where they are.

“Most of the time I get the tightest of hand squeezes from the patients you'd least expect, affirming the importance I feel to give every patient everything I have,” Shacklett says.

In her 8-year career, she’s worked in several hospital organizations, including for-profit and non-profit health care. But she’s found that the faith-based Mission at Providence resonates with her own personal mission. 

She gets to see people “at their worst and potentially at their best – and most of the time in between the two."

“At the end of the day, fear looks the same in everyone’s eyes. Grief looks the same,” she says. “I’ve been able to see humanity at its most basic form. Seeing that does nothing but evoke empathy.” For Shacklett, that humanity draws her in and drives her to deliver care at a deeper level.

She's quick to point out that while cultural differences and preferences may be different from one patient to the next, “everyone's stomach is the same color on the inside. There's an even playing field, you get to see the value of people as humans and get invited to treat them in an invaluable way.” 

Shacklett is one of more than 1,200 nurses working at Providence Alaska Medical Center and one of more than 1,600 nurses who work in service of the Providence Alaska Region. The World Health Organization extended its 2020 “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” celebration into 2021. Providence couldn’t agree more.