In the wake of the most recent school shootings, one of which hit close to home at Santa Monica College, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) conducted a multi-agency emergency drill to be carried out in the event of an active shooter and mass casualties. Coincidentally, one CSULB grad is making it her career to educate future nurses on what to do in case disaster strikes and how to integrate the latest developments into the trauma program.

Nurse & Educator Erin Burns (photo courtesy of Erin Burns)

Nurse & Educator Erin Burns (photo courtesy of Erin Burns)

Erin Burns holds a bachelor of science in nursing from CSULB and is now working on her master of science in nursing from UCLA while working as a trauma staff developer and disaster surge coordinate for the Neuro/Trauma Intensive Care Units at Long Beach Memorial and Miller Children’s hospital. Her biggest responsibilities include managing the care of newly admitted trauma patients, creating evacuation plans in case of disaster and educating all nursing staff of any changes to the trauma program and disaster plans.

“When I was in school, many of the professors encouraged the students to give back to new nurses by telling us how important it is to mentor new graduates and consider teaching some day,” says the CSULB nursing grad. “We need great nurses to be the people teaching the next generation of nurses. I have mentored quite a few new nurses after college; now, my entire career centers around education and what the best practices are for patients.”

Erin never planned on focusing her career on ICU nursing. She originally wanted her nursing career to focus on labor and delivery, but during her final semester of college, she decided to focus on neuro/trauma intensive car unit as a sneak peak into a world she thought she’d never experience again. She ended up falling in love with trauma ICU and has been working in the field ever since. Burns describes her education in nursing, especially her experiences in trauma, as an exciting and rewarding challenge with different experiences everyday.

“Nursing is the type of field where there are literally hundreds of options to pursue. If you are in a nursing job that you are unhappy in, there is no excuse. Nursing makes it easy to change pathways and find something you are happy doing,” says the nurse. On that same note, she also believes that anything worth achieving for the career you want is not going to be that easy. It’s competitive to get into a good nursing program and even harder to complete the program.

“Once you complete that and graduate, it only gets more complicated. You now have people’s lives in your hands,” she says. So far, every moment of difficulty she faced getting through college has proven to be worth it for a career she loves. For all the future nurses of Los Angeles, Burns recommends taking every learning opportunity you encounter, especially when it comes from seasoned nurses. There are a lot of career options for someone with a BSN or MSN, so challenge yourself with new positions until you find one that fulfills you the most.

Niki Payne is a freelance writer covering all things Entertainment in Los Angeles. Her work can be found on


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