Seven years ago when I was searching for a nursing position outside of the hospital setting, I was fortunate to find an opening at a prestigious bariatric surgery center. Little did I know at that time what a life changing experience it would be, both for the patients I would assist on their weight loss journey, but also, for me. Bariatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity. In 2014, Tennessee was ranked 14th in the U.S. for the state with a high level of obesity. I had little knowledge of the disease processes of obesity or experience in caring for this population of people. I began preparing for my new role as a bariatric nurse by studying textbooks, reading articles related to weight loss surgery, asking numerous questions of my peers and in time became a Certified Bariatric Nurse. During my 33 year nursing career, I have always experienced rewards of the care I have given to others. While working on med/surg units, I saw many people cheat death and survive their circumstances. During 18 years of Obstetrics, I had the reward of assisting couples bring life into this world and sometimes, having a hands on opportunity to save a life. The field of Bariatrics has been no different. Seeing a person come into our office in a wheelchair and having difficulty walking and breathing can be very disconcerting. But to then see these same faces days, weeks and months after weight loss surgery is literally thrilling! Witnessing people getting healthier, gaining self-confidence and defeating what they perceived as insurmountable odds gives me indescribable pleasure. The reward of my job is more than a paycheck. Instead, it is witnessing the positive changes people are making in their lives, appreciating their struggles, seeing their strength to persevere, assisting those who desire a different path for their life and celebrating the joy of their accomplishments.
Robin H. Saunders, BSN, CBN