Published: Aug. 23, 2017

On the ground and in the air: On duty 24/7

Contact(s): Jill Vondrasek Division of Public Health office: 810-600-9185

Bridget Burns-King is a family nurse practitioner with Sparrow Health System in Lansing.

The plane was dark and peaceful as the passengers on the international flight dozed off or watched movies. Newly pregnant Bridget Burns-King and her husband were on their way to Italy to enjoy the last vestiges of freedom before becoming parents.

A couple of hours into the flight, as she slept, her husband noticed a group of people gathering near a passenger several rows ahead, so he went to inquire. He woke his wife with a nudge and this Spartan nurse was immediately “on duty.”

A young man was lethargic, confused, sweating profusely and not answering questions appropriately. Observing that he was close to losing consciousness, she took the man’s vitals. She talked with him and found out that he was observing Ramadan; he said he had been performing strenuous work all day and hadn’t had any food or water. He refused cola and juice, but Burns-King was able to persuade him to drink some water with lemon. His condition improved and he was closely monitored during the remainder of the flight.

With the crisis averted, she returned to her seat. But not for long. “I thought that I was going to go back to my seat and get some sleep; but that lasted less than an hour.” She was awakened by the woman sitting next to her. She pointed to a passenger who appeared to be having seizure-like activity and was unresponsive.

"Nine weeks pregnant and nauseated, I climbed into the center row of seats to reach her. I took her pulse, and then began talking to her, trying to get her to focus on us. I got her vitals, placed an oxygen mask on her, and she soon ‘came to,’” Burns-King says. “I didn’t sleep the rest of the flight, but such is the life of a nurse — always on watch and aware.”

Her nursing education at MSU prepared her well for this experience. “In these types of situations, you just know what to do. You don’t stop and think about it. You just act,” she says. “Being a Spartan Nurse is part of who you are. Every experience you go through as a nurse builds upon past experiences, and better prepares you for future emergencies or situations.”

“I went to MSU because of their reputation as a great school for health professionals. I wanted to further my education past the baccalaureate level. Getting my master’s enabled me to better my skills as a nurse and also add new skills as a nurse practitioner to be able to diagnose, treat, and care for people throughout their lives. I work to make difficult times easier for people.

“I’m always a teacher; and being a nurse is a huge part of that. I want to educate people about leading healthier lives and making healthier decisions,” Burns-King adds.