September 2010

Member Profile:  Linda Crossett, MSN, RN, CNS-P/MH

Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything

-- I am Woman Hear Me Roar, Helen Reddy

Linda Crossett, MSN, RN, CNS-P/MH is full of stories. And it’s no wonder—she’s done everything from working on the New York City Mayor’s Task Force on Suicide in Prison Systems to providing crisis counseling and emergency psychiatric care during hurricanes Katrina and Rita to working with trauma survivors in women’s homeless shelters. “I always tell my husband,” she says, “that this is a job where you never get bored. You get to hear so many unique stories, some tragic, some inspiring.”

One day while at the hospital during her undergrad, she saw “this gentleman… in the corner” and went up to him. “Hi, I’m Linda Crossett, would you like to meet with me weekly?” she asked. “No.” was his gruff answer. A little crestfallen, she walked away. A few minutes later he approached her with slumped shoulders and a bent head and muttered “I changed my mind.” When she arrived for their first meeting she found that he had a chair set next to his bed all ready for her. He would lie in his bed and talk and talk and talk. “I was like Dr. Freud sitting next to him,” she laughs. “I’ve been coming to the VA Hospital for 35 years,” he told her one day, “and you’re the first person who asked me to talk.” At that moment, “I was hooked [on psychiatric mental health nursing],” says Crossett. “I’ve been burnt out, and I went to the ICU for awhile, but I always came back [to psychiatric nursing].”

Crossett clearly loves her profession fiercely, so what would she do if she were not a psychiatric nurse? “I always tell my husband that if I won the lottery I’d start my own homeless shelter.” When on the faculty at the University of Texas, Crossett approached the Director of a homeless clinic in Houston and asked for a chance to work with the clinic. When he agreed, she brought her students to the clinic where they started therapy and groups. Crossett bought her women’s group, self-named the “Red Hot Mammas Group,” red silk hats to wear. They would start each meeting by singing Helen Reddy’s I am Woman Hear me Roar. “People kept knocking on the door asking if they could be in my group,” she remembers.

Crossett was recently recognized as one of the 2010 Great 100 Nurses of Dallas/Fort Worth. She currently works in the evaluation clinic at the VA North Texas Medical Center in Dallas and loves it. “They’re very open to change,” she says. They are currently on their “magnet journey.” “It’s an exciting time,” Crossett says, “The nursing staff is empowered to make patient centered changes.” When she was teaching, Crossett would have her students start each class by reciting the mantra “Psych is fun.” “After 35 years,” says Crossett, “I still think psych is fun!”