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A Nurse’s Journey from Air Force Medic to Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (Podcast)

A 20-year nursing veteran shares his experiences from caring for patients in a variety of specialties

The nursing profession offers a multitude of opportunities, and each nurse’s journey is unique. In the latest episode of Cleveland Clinic’s Nurse Essentials podcast, Andrew Warburton, MSN, APRN, AGACNP-BC, CCRN, discusses his career trajectory from military medic to critical care nursing and critical care transport. Today, he is an acute care nurse practitioner with Cleveland Clinic’s sepsis emergency response team (SERT).

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While Warburton’s nursing roles have all been different, he’s enjoyed the opportunities to grow professionally and help patients in each one, including his most recent position with SERT.

“We’re doing good for our patients,” says Warburton. “We are seeing the data come back that has shown our interventions are helping our patients out – helping our mortality and morbidity numbers when it comes to sepsis care.”

In this episode, Warburton talks about:

  • How serving as an Air Force medic at 18 years old helped prepare him for nursing school
  • His experiences in emergency medicine, critical care nursing and critical care transport
  • How the sepsis emergency response team operates
  • The importance of remaining humble, working as a team and using critical thinking skills in every nursing role

Click the podcast player above to listen to the episode now, or read on for a short, edited excerpt. Check out more Nurse Essentials episodes at my.clevelandclinic.org/podcasts/nurse-essentials or wherever you get your podcasts.

Podcast excerpt

Podcast host Carol Pehotsky, DNP, RN, NEA-BC: We're very fortunate here to have the sepsis emergency response team… . For our listeners who aren't from Cleveland Clinic, can you tell us a little bit more about that program and the services this team provides to our patients?

Warburton: The sepsis emergency response team came out of the need that the executives of the Clinic really wanted because of our morbidity and mortality numbers as it pertains to sepsis management. And so, the SERT team was born early in 2022. The way we operate, it takes multiple teams to do what we're doing, just like any other team here at the Clinic. There's a lot of input behind the scenes.

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But clinically, it's made up of nurse practitioners and physician assistants from both the Anesthesia Institute and the Respiratory Institute. So, we collaborate and we cover the schedule 24/7. And we work hand-in-hand with one another.

The idea is that we have a program that's built into the electronic medical record in Epic that alerts us of potential sepsis patients. So, we maintain a list. We triage patients as they come to us, and they come to us via our phone. We have multiple phones that we carry, and so we get a page, we go on Epic, we look at the patient and we go through and determine whether or not they need interventions or they need to be looked at either by us or their primary team needs to look at them a little more carefully. And then we try to collaborate with the primary service as a team, similar in fashion to the Adult Medical Emergency Team or the other emergency response teams.

We can go from looking at a patient, to determining that none of the vital signs that were alerting us of sepsis were in fact related to sepsis. It's basically how we take those patients off of our list. And then there's the patients that clearly something's wrong with them, where they have a new fever, they have a new white blood cell count, a number of other factors – their heart rate's up, their blood pressure's low. Those are things that we take a little bit more seriously and look into that are new compared to trends that we've seen for patients that perhaps have been here for a while and all of a sudden, they have all these things going on.

That's when we kind of interject ourselves and go to the bedside, talk to the team, talk to the primary nursing and determine – you know, writing orders. We have a sepsis order set that we have built into Epic where we can just plug that in, determine what needs to be done that hasn't already been done and go from there.

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