Vie Lucas ’13 will never forget the couple who was involved in an accident. One person survived;
the partner did not.
Lucas, a mental-health nurse for Milwaukee County, says the survivor was brought directly
from the accident to the psychiatric emergency room where she works. Lucas noted that
her patient appeared to have lost the will to live. “It was right before a holiday.
The patient had small children and didn’t know how to explain what had happened.”
Lucas and her colleagues provided immediate mental health care for the patient at
a time of significant trauma and also connected the patient and family members to
ongoing support. “The fact that we made first contact and helped guide the patient
to a better direction was extremely powerful,” she says.
Lucas, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Alverno, has learned to
view each patient through a complex lens. Not only does she consider the patient as
an individual, but she also considers a patient’s personal story and the world in
which they live. She knows that by helping one patient, she’s also helping that person’s
family, friends, colleagues and community.
“It’s so much more than someone’s mental health diagnosis. You’re also treating the
family and the environment,” she says. “One person affects so many other people.”
Recognizing the many ways that an individual’s health is intertwined with the community’s
well-being, and vice versa, is what makes Alverno’s health care programs unique. Alverno alums like Lucas bring this wide lens to their work, as well as a sense
of mission and confidence to pursue that mission.
“Alverno helped to bring out something in me that I didn’t know about myself,” says
Lucas. “I learned to have more confidence as a woman. I learned to believe in myself
and to know that I can take on any challenge.”
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges Lucas faced was deciding to detour from her
plan of putting her Alverno Nursing degree to work as a labor and delivery nurse.
Instead, she answered a call for mental health nurses in Milwaukee County’s psychiatric
crisis services unit.
“It’s literally an emergency room for mental health,” she says. “We work with the
most vulnerable people in the community. We don’t turn anyone away.”
Lucas and her colleagues do more than treat patients’ immediate needs. They also form
relationships and advocate for long-term care solutions to everything from co-existing
mental health issues and substance abuse to children in unhealthy environments to
survivors of domestic violence. “We try our best to encourage, advocate, and be there for each and every patient,”
Thriving in her career, Lucas is now spreading the word about the need for mental health nurses, who are in short supply in Milwaukee and around the country. “I wouldn’t choose to work anywhere else,” she says. “I know that every day I’m making a difference in someone’s life.”
Click here to learn more about the many ways Alverno prepares mental health professionals to serve their community and equips them with the skills employers demand.