Many young people choose the field of nursing. We spoke to Karen House-Milburn RN, BSN, CLNC an expert in the medical profession and asked her the pros and cons of the vocation. Karen, who currently works with plastic surgeon Dr. George H. Sanders M.D., specializes as a plastic surgical nurse. As the Director of Nursing for the past seven years, her responsibilities include overseeing all facets of the surgicenter. She is also certified in all esthetic procedures including Botox, Collagen, laser hair removal, KTP laser for facial telarigectasias and leg veins, leg vein injections, steroid injections for scars, and chemical peels. Fraxel laser, Titan laser, and IPL laser are also procedures performed in the office.
How do you know you have what it takes for this vocation?
I love working with people. I seem to have a knack for listening and understanding what is going on with a patient.
When did you decide to become an RN?
When I was 3 I told my parents I wanted to become a nurse and make people feel better. They bought me a doctor’s kit and I was off and running. I would take dolls apart to see how they worked. My sister wrote a poem about me going from taking the limbs off all our dolls to running through the hospital halls.
What kind of education is required to become a nurse?
I did two years of LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) school part-time, then used the hospital clinical experience to do two years of RN school. I then went on to get my BSN (Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing).
How many years does it take?
Four years total from LVN to RN/BSN.
Does your training start in a hospital?
Most of my training was in the hospital. I did do some training in a center for developmentally disabled clients and in nursing homes.
What is a typical work schedule? When you first start do you have to take the night shift?
My first job as a nurse was in a locked unit at Woodview Calabasas Psychiatric Hospital. Then I started working with Dr. Sanders in plastic surgery. I did do night shifts at the psych hospital and then would do surgery with Dr. Sanders during the day. My work schedule varies depending on the patients and surgeries. I start early two days a week and work late three days a week, and work many Saturdays as well.
Are there different types of nurses?
There are many different avenues a nurse can explore. Many different areas in a hospital, surgery centers, clinics, spas, insurance, home health, rehab centers just to name a few. There are certified nurse assistants, licensed vocational nurse, medical assistants, registered nurse, nurse practitioner and doctorate level.
You are working with a plastic surgeon at this time. What are your responsibilities?
I see all of the pre-op and post-op patients with the doctor. I do Botox, fillers, and laser for the patients. I also work in the surgery area when needed. I did the surgicenter full-time for 16 years and when the aesthetic practice became very busy, as well as treating many post-op patients, I am now up front with these patients most of the time.
How do you train for a specialty such as injections?
I trained with the Collagen Company many years ago. I had to inject quite a few patients with a supervisor before I could do it on my own. When it became very popular for nurses to do the injections, I was asked if I would train them because I could do it “hands on” being a nurse myself. I have trained many doctors in the art of Botox and fillers. I also trained for the Esthetic Skin Institute for many years.
Do you have an ongoing training that you “MUST” attend to?
Yes, the Allergan Corp. requires ongoing training for me to be a trainer and the reps for every area provide ongoing course and meetings we can attend.
How rewarding is it?
Doing all that I do is very rewarding from the plastic surgery, facial aesthetics, and home health nursing. I am helping people every day to feel better and look better.
What are the drawbacks of the profession?
You can’t please everyone or heal all of them and sometimes they are less than grateful for what you try to do. It is very disheartening when you try to help someone and they turn on you when it doesn’t work out.
What was the hardest moment you had to go through as a nurse?
Having a patient come in for a purely cosmetic procedure and finding out they have cancer. I cry every time we have to tell them.
Throughout her career, Karen has received a great deal of recognition such as:
Certified by Medicis (2005) and Inamed/Allergan (1999) as trainer in injection technique, named to Who’s Who in American Nursing since 1990, Who’s Who in Human Service Professionals since 1991, Who’s Who in the West since 1992, named as a Fellow of the American Biographical Institute in 1995, as Women of the Years in Nursing 2000 and 2009, one of the 2000 American Notable Women since 2001, and Certified Medicare AAAASF Inspector since 2003.
Publicist LATF USA