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Psychiatry nurse named one of top nurses in Iowa

Megan Lahann

By Francie Williamson, Communications Coordinator, Department of Psychiatry

When Megan Lahann was growing up in the small town of Wheatland, Iowa, psychiatry was far from her mind.

“I always thought I would be a ‘baby nurse’,” says Lahann, who followed her dream to the University of Iowa, where she majored in nursing and health and human physiology.

Despite her aspirations of working in obstetrics, Lahann says she kept an open mind during nursing school.

“During my psychiatry rotation, I fell in love with how unique psych nursing was,” Lahann says.

Now, in addition to working part-time on one of the inpatient psychiatry units, Lahann works as one of the lead nurses for patients receiving electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. In March, she was named one of the 100 Great Iowa Nurses for 2020.

Lahann says she cried when she found out.

“I was so honored and I could not believe that I was actually chosen,” Lahann says. “Afterwards I felt kind of guilty or bad when other people congratulated me. In my heart, many of them deserved it much more than I did or at least should be recognized for their hard work and compassion as well.”

‘The most amazing nurse’

University of Iowa College of Nursing Dean Melanie Dreher created the 100 Great Iowa Nurses program in 2005. According to its website, the program recognizes nurses “whose courage, competence, and commitment to patients and the nursing profession stand out above all others.” Nominations can be submitted by patients, colleagues, administrators, friends and families.

In her nomination letter, Erin Crocker, MD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry, wrote that Lahann is “the most amazing nurse with whom I have ever worked.”

“She strikes a truly astounding balance between being thorough and meticulous while also being incredibly efficient,” Crocker wrote.

Nicholas Trapp, MD, director of ECT services and an assistant professor of psychiatry, said in his nomination letter that Lahann is an “amazing advocate for our patients, who are often stigmatized and neglected.”

“If she misses a day for any reason, it is very noticeable to other staff and patients because she does so much above and beyond standard nursing care,” Trapp wrote.

Trapp also wrote that Lahann’s attention to detail has been incredibly valuable to the ECT team, and has led to increased patient safety.

Crocker wrote that Lahann often puts patients’ welfare above her own.

“Megan was injured and had been told that she should not be on her feet. Despite being provided with adaptive equipment, the treatment team repeatedly caught her standing and walking to provide quicker care for her patients, and we frequently reminded her that with all of the amazing care that she provides to others, she should also make caring for herself a priority,” Crocker wrote.

Lahann said she felt blessed to see her colleagues recognize her hard work and dedication.

“I thanked them a million times but I don’t think they will ever truly understand how grateful I am that they took the time to nominate me,” Lahann said.

A mentor to others

Lahann credited the doctors and nurses she has worked with for strengthening her nursing career.

“Everyone brings a different skill set and every day I learn more about what it means to be a great nurse based off of those I work around,” she said.

In ECT services, Lahann gets to work with a number of students from the Carver College of Medicine, as well as the College of Nursing and College of Pharmacy.

 “I greatly enjoy teaching ECT and showing people that it is not a barbaric treatment like they portray it to be on TV and movies and that it is a great treatment option,” Lahann says.

In her nomination letter, Crocker wrote Lahann is the “very definition of a role model for health professionals.”

“Her efforts to better inform the next generation of nurses and other healthcare providers about psychiatric patients and illness, and to fight the unfortunately common stigmatizing beliefs about this population, are extremely important contributions to advancing the field of nursing and of health care in general,” Crocker wrote.

Making a difference

Lahann says the best part of coming to work is making a difference in patients’ lives.

“Many of our patients don't have family or social support. Sometimes we are the only ones that will take the time to listen to them,” Lahann says. “Getting to talk with my patients one on one and getting to know them is the best part of my day.” 

“I am so glad that I made the choice to do ECT as well as inpatient psychiatry,” Lahann adds. “Many patients have said it helps them relax to be able to see me in both places and know that I will be there.”

Monday, May 4, 2020