By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Constance Buran doesn’t mince words. She is direct, outspoken and fiercely protective of her kids – whether they are part of her Riley family, her at-home family or her community family.
Buran is wrapping up a healthcare career that has spanned more than four decades, multiple states and a variety of positions.
Her most recent role, director of ambulatory care for Riley outpatient services, is coming to an end this week. But it marks the beginning of a new chapter, one in which she devotes even more time to children in need in her volunteer work.
“I’ve had the good fortune of working in a lot of children’s hospitals in a lot of places, and children’s hospitals are very different than adult hospitals with pediatric units,” Buran said. “Our mindset is different, our culture is different, the drive is different in terms of what feeds you and motivates you.”
What motivates her has always been kids. She and her husband, Mike, former longtime ICU physician at IU Health Methodist Hospital, have four children, two “extra” kids (sons-in-law) and four grandchildren.
She met Mike the summer before their freshman year of high school in Cleveland, and they’ve been together ever since, bonding over their shared love of medicine and marrying after college. Last month, they celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.
There were multiple moves in their careers, but Buran started out as a bedside nurse in the NICU at a hospital in Cleveland. Now an advanced practice provider with clinical specialties in obstetrics and pediatrics, as well as a PhD, she worked as director of curriculum for the School of Nursing at the University of Indianapolis, before joining the team at Riley Hospital for Children 28 years ago.
“When I came to Riley, my first job here was managing the cerebral palsy program and spina bifida program,” she said. “My clinical specialty is children with multiple handicaps.”
As a full-time clinician, she ran her inpatient and outpatient program, then moved into a managerial role for the clinic that housed those programs in addition to others.
When she and Cyndi Bishop were tapped as directors for outpatient care, they thought at first they would continue their clinical practice. Six months in, Buran decided she wasn’t doing either job well, so she stepped away from the clinical side of medicine and put her heart and soul into the administrative side.
It wasn’t easy, especially when she would see her former patients and their parents in the hallways or the cafeteria, but it worked out for the best, she said.
She and Bishop have been colleagues and friends for 28 years and were part of the team that designed the Riley Outpatient Center, which opened in 2000.
“There has been no better example of living our IU Health values than Connie,” Bishop said. “She never loses sight of her purpose, which is taking excellent care of patients. She approaches that work with passion and compassion every day.”
Buran is an “amazing team player” who has touched many lives and truly made a difference for children and families, Bishop added.
For Buran, that’s what it’s all about – caring for children and families – whether directly or indirectly.
“It’s a mutual love fest,” she laughs, adding that she found a new passion in elevating the nurses who report to her to the next level.
“Pushing them to push themselves,” she said. “I just love that work. It’s like being a very proud mother.”
Her pride shines through.
“My nurses and other managers are just an unbelievably talented group,” she said, dismissing the idea that her retirement leaves a void too big to fill within the organization.
“I’m not that important. There are 36,000 employees at IU Health. I’m just one. If I haven’t brought this team to the level where they can carry on without me, then I shouldn’t have had this job.”
And she hasn’t done it alone.
“I am not able to do any of what I do without the support of EVS and facilities and education and the physicians and the dietitians and the pharmacists and so many others. It’s the one vision that we all have that it’s all about the kids and the families,” she said.
And when things don’t go well?
“You go in your office and close your door and have a moment. Then you open the door and you resume.”
Buran jokes that together, she and Bishop have been able to “ROC” outpatient care at Riley.
And while she has loved her work at Riley, it is not always a happy place.
“Do not confuse Riley with Disney World. These children are sick; they don’t want to be here. There’s not a parent in this building who wants to be here,” Buran said.
“They’re grateful to be here to get the care they need, but nobody wants to have a premature baby, nobody wants to have a baby that needs a heart transplant,” she added. “It’s our job to take those circumstances and make this the best possible experience for them.”
In retirement, Buran is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, children and grandsons, and she will continue her work as a guardian ad litem in Hamilton County, a volunteer role that allows her to combine her huge heart for kids with her knowledge of the medical field.
“As an adoptive mom and nurse, I’m a sucker for these kids. I know these kids. I can communicate with them.”
It’s only right, she said, that she helps them.
As she wraps up her work at Riley, Buran reflects on a career that has been a blessing, from her days as a bedside nurse to her years developing other nurses to be the best they can be.
“It’s been a great ride. This is truly a great place to work, and being a nurse is truly the best profession on the planet.”
Photos submitted and by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, email@example.com