UTMC nurse named ‘Champion for Children’

May 19, 2017 | News, UToday, Health and Human Services
By Madison Vasko

Katie Bush, a sexual assault nurse examiner at UT Medical Center, recently received another award for her dedication to helping those in need.

Bush received the Cullen Champion for Children Award at the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center’s spring luncheon. The award honors those who show an outstanding commitment to the well-being of children and families, tireless advocacy, and a pioneer spirit. It is named for Dr. Bernard J. Cullen, a Toledo pediatrician who worked on behalf of abused children.

Katie Bush, a sexual assault nurse examiner at UT Medical Center, left, received the Cullen Champion for Children Award from Dr. Christie Jenkins, CEO of the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center.

“I feel very blessed that my name was even considered for this award,” Bush said. “There are so many people doing wonderful things in this community for children and families living with violence as their daily norm, and if I have positively impacted even one child, then it’s all worth it.”

Bush acknowledged the difficult nature of her work: “There is no doubt about it, working with this population is hard. It’s sad and frustrating at times, and there are not always good outcomes. Being immersed in this part of the world can be dark, so this award shines that light and reinforces that I’ve kept going for a reason.”

She earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees in criminal justice at the University, where she worked with victims of crime. After becoming a registered nurse, the UT alumna made it her goal to become a forensic nurse at the encouragement of one of her advisers.

“I wish I could explain where the passion comes from to work with this patient population,” Bush said. “I truly believe it’s just inherently there for me, to be the advocate for the broken, for the victim or patient that just needs someone to be 100 percent on their side and supportive no matter what the circumstances. I’ve been lucky enough to live my life violence-free, but that’s not the case for so many families in our community, and I’m happy to be the person willing to help them in any way possible.”

In addition to this award, Bush received a Liberator Award in 2016, which recognizes locals fighting human trafficking, as well as a 2013 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award.

She also was the primary author of the national Emergency Nurses Association position statement on Human Trafficking Patient Awareness in the Emergency Setting. This statement was created to educate emergency nurses throughout the country on their essential role in identifying trafficking victims.

For those who wished to get involved with the various causes that she supports, Bush cited volunteering as the best way to both help and educate oneself simultaneously.

“I volunteered for 10 years with the Lucas County Crisis Response Team,” she said. “I went to homes and hospitals at police request to provide immediate crisis intervention to victims seeking help. There are so many programs out there that need help. From our own Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, to rape crisis, the battered women’s shelter and [court-appointed special advocates], there are plenty of opportunities to donate time and learn what the needs are within our own backyard.”

On advice for young nurses, Bush cited the importance of knowledge on different types of abuse: “Seek education on topics such as child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. I assure you, no matter what type of nurse you become, this population is among those you will care for. Understanding the dynamics they live within goes a long way to increase positive patient interaction; you may actually be the only person they can trust or turn to. They may not want your help, but offer it anyhow. Reserve judgments and keep the door open for them to feel safe no matter how many times they may walk away. And if you identify a need, know your resources. Connect them to services and call a social worker or a sexual assault nurse examiner.”

Bush’s passion for her work shines through her tireless efforts to provide survivors and their families with appropriate care. Her work has not gone unnoticed by her peers.

“I’m proud to have received an award in honor of Dr. Cullen, because in no way do I believe I’ve impacted our profession on his level,” Bush said. “It creates a goal for me, to continue improving lives of people who deserve better than the violence they live within. That was part of Dr. Cullen’s mission, and I couldn’t be more proud to be among the past recipients of this award.”

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