On the night of Oct. 1, 2017, Ashley Juste was in her Las Vegas home watching the news in shock and disbelief as reporters described a mass shooting at a local music concert. She texted a message of support to a friend who worked as a nurse at a hospital to where victims were transported. Juste was a trauma nurse at that hospital but left 10 months prior to become a senior nurse practitioner at A-P Medical Group nearby. Her friend texted back describing the troubling scene, and Juste thought, “I have to help.” Soon after, she drove to the hospital to volunteer. Juste had never seen so many people in such need, but she helped treat more than 200 victims.
Juste’s story is one of many from that night showing the courage of nurses everywhere. In March, A-P Medical Group submitted her story to the Healthgrades National Doctor’s Day Sweepstakes, highlighting the clinicians that went above and beyond that night. Healthgrades forges meaningful connections between patients and providers, and to observe National Nurses Week, we spoke with Juste about her journey into nursing and her passion for it.
“I’m a people person, I love connecting with others,” said Juste, who is still with A-P Medical Group. “I love building rapport, and I really feel like nursing has taught me to do that in the best way possible. We are there for patients through the best of times and the worst of times, and I’m really happy and proud to be a part of the nursing profession.”
Juste was on track for medical school from an early age, and her father is a physician in Los Angeles. Though she started pre-med classes, she shifted direction following a family member’s suggestion and enrolled in the nursing program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It wasn’t long thereafter that Juste felt at home.
“Besides helping patients and their families, I love being part of a team. Having good nurses and physicians by your side and having that family aspect is very motivating, because trauma and critical situations can’t be handled alone,” said Juste.
That team played an important role in her professional development. She’s quick to point out mentorship she’s received and how it’s molded her, both in helping patients and socializing with fellow nurses. “Nurses I admire have an interesting sense of humor, because we have to carry a lot of emotional weight sometimes, so we need to relax a little and lighten the mood,” said Juste. “I also notice they’re very strong advocates. They aren’t afraid to say or do what’s right for the patient. Those are two things that make really great nurses… and coffee.”
On the night of the shooting, Juste’s training was instinct, as she was able to contribute in the hospital where she once worked immediately after arriving. Nurses, physicians, administrative staff and more all worked together, each playing an incremental role in patient care. “Everyone worked really well together,” said Juste. “Some people really stepped up and gave direction, some of whom weren’t usually in those types of roles. When I showed up, I really didn’t know what I would be able to do. But those instincts kick in.”
Last month, Juste joined others who treated victims that night at a butterfly release in Las Vegas, commemorating the six-month anniversary of the event. They’ve kept in touch and continue supporting each other, as they continue supporting patients in difficult situations. “In nursing, we do more so much more than provide medical care,” said Juste. “We counsel, we give guidance, we even help patients order from food menus. We’re part healthcare practitioners, part social workers.”
Despite the emotional toll that working with critically ill patients can take, Juste still has a fire to help. “When you help people, and you’re being yourself about it, I think that’s the most fulfilling.”
To learn more about how rapport with providers impacts patient satisfaction, click here.