By Denise Maddox, RN Care Coordinator at Children’s Health CONQUER Clinic in Dallas, TX
I graduated from the nursing program at Oklahoma State University in 2012. This is a second career for me, and while I was excited to begin my new journey, I had no idea where to start. There are so many specialties to choose from. The one thing I knew for sure is that pediatrics had my heart. The children are amazing and being a mom myself, I felt a deep connection with the parents and the questions they had as they searched for answers for their sick child. My experience up until now has been in the NICU, neurosurgery, and neurology. While each of these has taught me a great deal, nothing has been more exciting or more fulfilling than working with the neuroimmunology team at our Children’s Health CONQUER Clinic. I have seen so many young people, toddlers to young adults, meet their challenges head-on with a smile and a determination that is awe-inspiring. And the parents are engaged and eager to do anything and everything they can to give their child every opportunity to heal or, in some cases, live passionately and fully with their new normal. Many of these moms and dads can spout off tests and talk about MRIs like pros because they have learned that many times, they are the ones educating other medical professionals on these rare diseases. They have certainly taught me!
And our CONQUER team (Collaboration on Neuroimmunology: Question, Understand, Educate, Restore) is the best! They have taken me in and welcomed me as one of the family. Each time I ask another question (and there are many), there is not one of them that will not stop and explain.
My official title is RN Care Coordinator. When we are in clinic, I direct the “human” traffic! There are potentially 8-10 people that could see each patient. That takes coordination and sometimes a gentle, but firm, nudge to get moving. I also talk with our teens, along with our social worker, about transitioning to adulthood. We want them to be comfortable so that when their friends or other medical professionals ask what’s going on, these teens can confidently tell them about their diagnosis. It’s also important for them to understand what their medication is, why they are taking it and when to call for help. I do the same education for moms and dads of our younger kiddos. When I am not in clinic I take patient calls, deal (sometimes fight) with insurance, coordinate labs and imaging, write letters of medical necessity and diagnosis letters, and work with the specialty drug companies to make sure medications are getting where they need to go. I encourage patients to call me for anything. If I don’t know the answer, it’s likely I can figure out who does.
I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity! I have learned a great deal in 5 months and there is so much more to know! I am excited for all that is yet to come!