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Meet Arionn Preston, RN, a Nurse with Riverside Behavioral Health Center

May 10, 2022

Our Stories
Arionn Preston

When she was growing up, Arionn Preston wanted to be a lawyer after attending Career Day activities at her school. It wasn’t until a woman that cared for her, who was like a grandma to her became ill, that she fully understood the importance of nursing.

“The idea of wanting to save and care for people started in my heart. From a young age, I can say that I've been empathic to people's situations and curious about why people make the decisions they do. I wanted to be in a field where I could help people, but also have an exciting environment,” she explains.

Early Beginnings

Arionn became interested in working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Pediatrics. While she was at Virginia Commonwealth University working on her pre-nursing track, she went to volunteer at VCU’s Medical Center in the NICU. At first, she loved it -- but then she didn’t. Arionn felt the role was mentally demanding and she decided to continue pursuing her nursing education.

“One of my prerequisites for Nursing was Adolescent Psychology. Once I took that class, I instantly fell in love with pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Psychology along with my associate degree in Nursing. I truly believe psychiatric nursing is my calling,” she shares. Arionn felt she was in the right place to be able to help people with an issue that is very close to her personally.

A Personal Calling

“I struggled with my own mental health, as well as the mental health of the people around me. Mental health issues are taboo in some cultures, and people feel it doesn't exist, or that you can pray it away. I work every day to bring light to the topic,” she says.

Arionn’s college experiences opened her eyes to mental health nursing. Being exposed to people's problems and attempting to understand how people make decisions helped her choose the growing field of mental health nursing.

“My first psychiatric job was at Riverside Behavioral Health Center as a Psychiatric Technician, which I started in 2017. Someone I personally knew referred me to the job. I wasn't sure if I should have taken the job, but I'm glad I did.” Arionn was given a tour on the Acute Adolescent unit and was surrounded by children who were loving, but also struggling. Even now, when she works with adult patients, she feels her work is purposeful.

Since August 2020, Arionn Preston has worked at Riverside Behavioral Health Center in the Adult Intensive Treatment Program (ITP). In this role, Arionn is charge nurse for the unit. Among her many duties, Arionn makes sure the patients and staff are safe, maintains the unit and milieu, and supervises the psychiatric technicians. She also does primary nursing care and assigns nurses to patients, who also administer care to their patients. Arionn attends team treatment meetings and communicates as needed with staff and her assigned patients.

Recognizing Nurses Week

When asked what Nurses Week means to her, Arionn shares, “Nurses Week is a time for people to celebrate the field of nursing, no matter what specialty you are in. It's a week to be appreciated in such a hard profession, when not every day is ideal. Discounts are good perks to have, but it’s a lot nicer to receive praise and positive words,” she says.

For Nurses’ Day, Arionn usually honors her staff with a food-related treat that her team will enjoy. “My team really loves food they can eat on the run or while on their break, so I want to thank them with a gift of food to recognize their hard work.”

Arionn says that her favorite aspect of her job is a mixture of the amazing people she works with, and her daily interactions with patients. “The best feeling in the world is seeing someone come into the facility in a completely different state and leave in a far better place than they were when they were admitted,” she says.

Most importantly, Arionn likes to know that the patients in her care feel safe – even if it takes a while to establish that sense of safety.

“I always say that the patients are just like our workers, only in a different situation. Each day, I strive to make each patient's experience comfortable and a situation and environment they will grow from.”

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