A Patient Blossoms into a CVICU Nurse


Sherry Dourm, R.N., B.S.N., cares for patients in the cardiovascular intensive care unit.

Published in Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital - Winter 2023

Sherry Dourm, R.N., B.S.N., was finishing a shift on the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital when she spotted a familiar face.

Nicole Chandler, M.D., was coming to check on a patient in the CVICU.

“I don't know if you remember me,” Dourm starts, “but I was your patient. And she was like, ‘Oh, my goodness, I remember you. I remember your mom. You work here now?’”

Chandler, now division chief of pediatric surgery, and the team at Johns Hopkins All Children’s in St. Petersburg, Florida, were the inspiration for Dourm to pursue a nursing career. At 14, Dourm had pectus excavatum, a common chest wall deformity where the ribs don’t form correctly and the sternum sinks into the chest. Chandler specializes in repairing the condition and placed a metal bar in Dourm’s chest to lift the breastbone and correct the deformity over time. When Dourm was 18, Chandler performed an operation to remove the bar.

“Even at that first surgery being 14, I was old enough to really recognize how amazing the hospital was,” Dourm says. “I really loved the staff. The nurses were amazing.”

Dourm was a student at Crystal River High School in Citrus County and applied for the school’s Health Academy. The group did many health care-related activities, including a tour at All Children’s.

“Even before I went to nursing school, I knew my ultimate goal was to apply to All Children's,” Dourm says.

As a student at the University of Florida, Dourm pursued her nursing degree.

“I just loved the hospital altogether and the patient care they provided, and it was just really inspiring,” she says.

As Dourm neared graduation, her #1 choice was a job at All Children’s. In March 2022, she joined the Pediatric RN Residency Program, a 12-month program that gives newer nurses a foundation for success and exposes them to a variety of nursing units. Along the way, Dourm developed an affinity for the CVICU.

“I had an immediate interest in caring for children with congenital heart defects,” she says. “Working on CVICU, we have the opportunity to take care of our patients anywhere from being a newborn, to preoperatively and postoperatively, then all the way through discharge. You can end up getting very close with these patients and their families.”

“I haven't been on CVICU super long, but the staff itself already has started to feel like family, and I'm just grateful for all the learning experiences I've had.

“When some of the families tell me they’re having a great experience with the care of their child, I sometimes get to relate that I was a patient here too. It makes me happy hearing that they're having a good experience in this tough time because in my tough time I had a good experience and that's what's led me to now work here to give back to the people that once gave to me.”

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