Nurses Giving Back
Giving Back Beyond Our Borders
For student nurses, the journey to delivering quality care is rarely contained within the classroom. For some students at Chamberlain College of Nursing, that journey even expands beyond geographical borders. Through an extracurricular program called the International Nursing Service Project, nursing students at Chamberlain have several opportunities each year to take their education abroad, providing care to diverse communities and further honing their skills for the future.
For the past 18 years, Susan Fletcher, Ed.D., MSN, BSN, professor at Chamberlain College of Nursing in St. Louis, Mo., has led students to other countries for service projects for one to three weeks at a time. According to Dr. Fletcher, a key goal for those students is to gain a deeper understanding of different cultures and economic systems, and what those differences mean for patients.
“Years before I began these trips, I wrote a course on cultural diversity for junior level students,” said Dr. Fletcher. “Students were required to visit different cultural sites and discuss their findings after returning. With these assignments I was able to witness such enlightenment in my students that I knew we had to do more to increase cultural understanding.”
In the process of becoming more worldly and aware, student nurses also get the chance to make a real difference in the communities they visit.
“There are so many stories I could share about my students going above and beyond to help patients on these trips over the years,” said Dr. Fletcher. On one trip in particular, she recalled the generosity of her students with pride in her voice.
On a recent trip to Kenya, Dr. Fletcher led her students on home visits, during which the group encountered a man who had been hit by a truck the year before and fractured his femur. He was married and had a young child, and was unable to pay the $500 it would have cost to repair his broken bone. As a result, the man lived in pain with a broken leg for almost one year, leaving him unable to work or provide for his family.
The students were touched by the man’s story, ultimately deciding that they wanted to do something to help him pay for surgery. As they had limited funding to provide care for the community, one student decided to turn to her friends back in the U.S.
“I kept thinking in my head – how can we not help him?” said Sarah Turner, a current senior at Chamberlain College of Nursing in Phoenix, Ariz., and one of the student nurses on the trip.
Turner decided to launch a crowd sourcing initiative to raise the money from her Facebook friends. Within a few short days, the kindness of strangers had translated into enough money to repair the man’s broken femur and get him on a path to recovery. “After that, all I had to do was figure out how to get the money from the bank into their hands,” she said.
“The response was incredible!” said Dr. Fletcher. “With Sarah’s idea and the help of an online network, we managed to pay for the man’s surgery. All of this extraordinary work happened in May, and when I returned to Kenya in September, that same man was smiling, standing at the gate to his community to welcome us. He invited us back to his house to introduce us to his wife and daughter, and they were all so grateful for what we had done. This was such a rewarding moment.”
As the year comes to a close, Dr. Fletcher is looking ahead to 2014 and all of the upcoming trips she has planned for her students. The project will take future nurses to Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Brazil, India, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines next year, where student nurses will have a wide variety of different assignments and unique experiences giving back to local communities.
To learn more about the International Nursing Service Project, visit www.chamberlain.edu.
Nurses Giving Back
Learning Through Serving: A Nursing Student Gives Back and Gains Valuable Lessons in Patient Empathy
Sometimes the greatest lessons learned can happen in the most unexpected places. Lindsey Lang, RN, BSN, a level one trauma center nurse at the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill, N.C., would have to agree.
“My biggest learning in nursing school was not taught in the classroom, during my clinicals or by studying for my certification exams,” said Lang. “I learned the meaning of nursing from an unexpected source – my patients.”
In fall 2012, during her final year of nursing school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), Lang completed her public health rotation at the Durham Center for Senior Living (DCSL). She had the opportunity to work with senior citizens in her community, providing general wellness counseling, performing health screenings and assisting with activities for the seniors. One afternoon while speaking with a staff member of the DCSL, Lang discovered that the center offered a food pantry service that provided food to many of the seniors who visited the center.
“I learned that many seniors in the community had very little money to pay for food after spending their money on medication, bills and heat for their homes, which is why the DCSL provided the food pantry service for their patients,” explained Lang. “However, a staff member informed me that the holidays were an especially difficult time for the elderly, and the center’s pantry was running out of food.”
Lang was inspired to take action. She met with one of her professors, Megan Williams, MSN, RN, FNP, and the two worked with UNC-CH’s Association of Nursing Students (ANS) to sponsor a food drive. They sent out emails to the entire nursing school, which included faculty, staff, and students, and displayed posters around the school with boxes for donations.
“The project was a natural fit for ANS. The primary goal of ANS’s Community Outreach and Education branch has always been to connect students with volunteer opportunities, with the hope that these students will continue that tradition of service for the rest of their time in school and in their work as nurses,” said Williams. “For future nurses, participating in community service is necessary to further understand and appreciate the discipline of nursing.”
According to Lang, there was an incredible response from the school and community, and with generous contributions, they were able to donate more than 500 pounds of food and $450 for the center to use to buy food at a discounted price through a larger food bank in the state.
“The experience taught me that I can never fully understand what my patients are going through until I ask questions. I had no idea that so many of the seniors I was working with were struggling to get food,” said Lang. “I also learned how imperative it is to treat each patient with kindness. Sometimes all people need is a smile, a gentle touch or a kind word to turn their day around.”
Now that Lang is a practicing nurse, she credits the community service project as helping her realize what it means to be a nurse. The experience helped her understand the true spirit of nursing, and shaped the way she practices nursing at her current job.
“Nursing is so much more than I had originally thought when I started nursing school. Nurses are the ones who spend the most time with patients. Nurses are able to intervene on their patient’s behalf and advocate for their patients best interest,” said Lang. “I think ‘giving back’ comes naturally for nurses and nursing students. We go into this profession because we want to serve others. It only makes sense that if we see a need in our community, we find a way to meet that need.”
Editor’s Note: According to Lang, there is an ongoing need for non-perishable food items in the Durham community, and the Durham Center for Senior Life and many other organizations and non-profits in the area continue to supply food for those in need. Lang encourages local residents to give back to the community through the use of food drives to benefit those organizations and to help keep the spirit of giving alive. Additionally, many senior organizations, food pantries and shelters are especially in need of food this time of the year. Please consider locating facilities in your area and donating if you can.
Get to Know
Hershaw Davis, Jr., MSN, RN, a first year Ph.D. student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.
Davis was named a Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future and American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Fall 2013 Minority Nurse Faculty scholar. Additionally, Davis was a National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) Board Member from 2009-2010. Davis’ research focuses on healthcare delivery and health disparities among vulnerable populations.
Q. When did you decide to pursue a career in nursing and why?
A. I actually decided to pursue nursing as a second career choice after serving our country. I'm happy I had some experience and maturity behind me before I entered nursing, but I always wanted to serve my fellow man. Nursing seemed like the highest form of service.
I received my BSN in 2009, and then practiced emergency nursing in Johns Hopkins Hospital’s adult emergency department. I decided to continue my education because I wanted to give back to my profession by teaching the next generation of nurses.
Q. Why did you decide to pursue research on health disparities among vulnerable populations?
A. I have worked with vulnerable populations throughout my entire career as an emergency department nurse. Many patients use the emergency department as their sole form of healthcare. Through my work, I grew interested in learning more about how our healthcare system affects all people, especially the economically disadvantaged and racial minority populations.
I am also interested in researching diabetes in vulnerable populations – diabetes is a disease often accompanied with comorbidities that can be extra challenging. I believe primary care access can help manage and eventually prevent this disease.
Q. How has nursing impacted your life?
A. Nursing has taught me to be humble. Everyone has a story, and if you take the time to listen, your world will be forever changed. I am honored that my nursing care can intersect with the patient’s experience and become a part of their story at that moment.
I also enjoy the diversity of patients. My experiences with patients are always a lesson in the richness of humanity and the diversity of the human experience.
Q. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of being a nurse?
A. Trying to meet the needs of my patients can be challenging, especially in emergency conditions, but when my patients or their family members say thank you, it makes all of my challenges seem small in the grand scheme of things.
I enjoy seeing my patients and their family members in the community, especially when the patient is full of life and energy, or when the family has a positive update on their loved one. The fact that I am remembered as part of their healthcare experience is humbling.
Q. Why is it important for nurses to “give back” to their community?
A. Service is at the core of our calling. We are at the frontline of healthcare, and we have been commissioned with this duty since the days of Florence Nightingale. We must engage the communities we serve so that we can properly meet their healthcare needs – this includes education programs, clothing drives, etc.
Whether you provide a smile, hold a hand or take time to talk with your patients, that compassion goes a long way to ease their suffering. This compassionate care is not in any job description or oath we take but, it is inherent to the role of a nurse. Compassionate care is at the heart of nursing.
Ask a Nurse
Learn from Industry Leaders How to Kick-Start Your Nursing Career
Student nurses and new nurses – we invite you to share your fundamental questions with us on the Nursing Notes by Johnson & Johnson Facebook Page and on Twitter @JNJNursingNotes! Each month, we will pick a few questions to highlight in this section with responses provided by seasoned nurses.
Q. What extra steps beyond the classroom can students take to gain more experience and enhance their future career?
A. If you have the opportunity to study abroad, take it. Experiences gained while working overseas can be transformative. You will not only grow and become more aware of different cultures, your assessment skills will become enhanced as well. In addition, study abroad trips are often organized with both nursing and medical students. This teaches students the value of collaborating with doctors to improve patient outcomes – a skill that will help you for your entire career.
-Susan Fletcher, Ed.D., MSN, BSN, professor at Chamberlain College of Nursing in St. Louis, Mo. Dr. Fletcher has been a nurse for more than 40 years and a nurse educator since 1993.
Q. What advice would you offer to those interested in becoming a nurse?
A. Nursing is like art. Everyone has their own interpretation. It is up to you to interpret your experiences based on your perceptions. Keep an open mind. You will be surprised where your career can take you.
-Hershaw Davis, Jr., MSN, RN, a first year Ph.D. student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. Davis has been a nurse for four years.
Q. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first began your nursing career?
A. I wish I had known how important it is to be to be an advocate for your patients, their families, your peers and the nursing profession. Every day nurses speak up and speak out for different reasons, and while it takes time to develop your own “voice” as an advocate, it’s important for new nurses to recognize the importance of advocacy at all levels.
-Megan P. Williams, MSN, RN, FNP, clinical assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, N.C. Williams has been a nurse for 15 years.
Q. What advice would you give to students who are just starting out in nursing school?
A. Jump at every new opportunity you have, even if it makes you nervous! This is the time to learn – to be exposed to new experiences and learn from them. It will make you more competent and confident when you come across the same situation in the working world.
It’s also important to find an outlet. Find something you enjoy doing outside of nursing. It is important to have a balanced life. For example, I volunteer at the animal shelter, which I love!
-Lindsey Lang, RN, BSN, a level one trauma center nurse at the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill, N.C. Lang graduated from nursing school in May 2012.
We want to wish each of our readers a happy and safe holiday season! Additionally, we want to thank all of the nurses and professional organizations that contributed to Nursing Notes this year. Thanks to your continued support and engagement, our readership has grown to nearly 65,000 subscribers, and we are excited for what the next year has to bring!
In keeping with the giving season, we’re pleased to announce that Johnson & Johnson has launched its Care Grows holiday giving campaign. Care Grows unites individuals and Johnson & Johnson in supporting initiatives that touch the lives of children and families around the world. The campaign leverages three social good platforms: Catapult, the Johnson & Johnson Donate a Photo app and Save the Children’s “Gift of Joy” catalog.
Through these different platforms, Johnson & Johnson will amplify individual acts of caring by either matching a donation dollar-for-dollar through Catapult and the Gifts of Joy catalog, or by donating a dollar for every photo donated through Donate a Photo. The campaign will extend through the end of the year. Help spread the word by using #CareGrows on Twitter and Facebook!
For more information about the Care Grows campaign, visit www.caregrows.com.
The Promise of Nursing for South Carolina Gala Recap
As part of our ongoing commitment to help alleviate the nursing shortage, the Campaign hosted its Promise of Nursing (PON) for South Carolina gala in Charleston on November 6. This was the second such regional event to be held in the state of South Carolina, for a total of $430,000 raised from PON for South Carolina events!
Two hundred nurses from across the state attended the event to celebrate the industry and help raise funds to support the region’s nursing community. Funds raised from the gala will be used for undergraduate nursing scholarships, fellowships to prepare nurse faculty and grants to South Carolina nursing schools to help expand their program capacity. One hundred percent of the event’s proceeds will remain in the state of South Carolina.
Be sure to check out photos from this year’s gala event at www.discovernursing.com.
Disaster Education for Nurses – New Complimentary CE Course Available on Nurse.com
In the past several years, natural disasters such as major earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones have affected millions of people worldwide. Most recently, in the wake of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the need for disaster preparation and response has become more evident than ever.
Nurse.com recently launched a new microsite to help provide news, education and support in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. As part of this initiative, the Campaign has partnered with Nurse.com to provide a free “RNs Shelter Victims of Disaster” CE course. The goal of this module is to educate nurses about how Department of Health Services nurses work with other team members in American Red Cross shelters to prevent injury and illness, and to promote health in the aftermath of a major disaster. The course will be available until January 28, 2014.
For more information about how you can get involved in Typhoon Haiyan disaster relief, or to complete the complimentary CE course, visit www.nurse.com.
FNSNA Undergraduate Scholarships Now Available Online – Deadline Approaching!
The Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association (FNSNA) is now accepting undergraduate scholarship applications for the 2014-2015 academic year – but the deadline is quickly approaching! Completed applications must be submitted by Tuesday, January 14, 2014.
For the first time ever, the application process is now entirely online. The new online platform is easy to use and applicants can complete their personal, academic, community health involvement and financial information within minutes. By simply creating a username and password, applicants now have the ability to start the application process and complete it at a later date up until the deadline. Applicants will no longer need to complete a paper application, and all required documents can be easily uploaded to the website.
Scholarships are available to U.S. citizens currently enrolled in state-approved schools of nursing or pre-nursing in associate degree, baccalaureate, diploma, generic doctorate and generic master's programs. The NSNA Foundation awards more than $345,000 annually in the general scholarship and Promise of Nursing programs. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $5,000.
Scholarship recipients will be selected based on academic achievement, financial need, and involvement in nursing student organizations and community healthcare activities.
For more information on eligibility and how to apply, visit www.nsna.org.
Announcing the Winners of the 2013 Nurse.com Nursing Excellence GEM Awards!
Nurse.com has announced its 2013 National Nursing Excellence “Giving Excellence Meaning” (GEM) Award winners! Each year, Nurse.com looks for nurses nationwide who exhibit professionalism, leadership, education, clinical skills and service. Nursing leaders then judge thousands of nominees before choosing six of the nation’s most talented nurses as winners. The Campaign was a national sponsor of this year’s GEM Awards program.
This year’s winners are:
- Paula R. Graling, RN, DNP, CNOR, CNS, clinical nurse specialist, perioperative services at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus in Falls Church, Va., in the category of Advancing and Leading the Profession
- Julie Cronin, RN, MSN, OCN, clinical nurse specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mass., in the category of Clinical Nursing, Inpatient
- Joan Insalaco Warren, RN-BC, Ph.D., NEA-BC, director of nursing research at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., in the category of Education and Mentorship
- Jill Goldstein, RN, MA, MS, vice president, Congregate Care at Visiting Nurse Service of New York in New York, N.Y., in the category of Home, Community and Ambulatory Care
- Betty Venth, RN, MSN, BC, flight commander, family health at the U.S. Air Force in Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in the category of Patient and Staff Management
- Salpy Akaragian, RN-BC, MN, director, international and nurse credentialing at UCLA Health in Los Angeles, Calif., in the category of Volunteerism and Service
Congratulations to all of the winners! To learn more about their stories, check out this article with an individual profile for each nurse. To nominate a nurse for the 2014 National Nursing Excellence GEM Awards, visit www.nurse.com.
American Academy of Nursing’s 2013 Johnson & Johnson Excellence in Media Award
The American Academy of Nursing (AAN) recently presented the 2013 Johnson & Johnson Excellence in Media Award to Barbara Cotter, a journalist with the Colorado Springs Gazette. This award was established to recognize excellence in journalism reporting on healthcare with an appropriate inclusion of nurses’ contributions or perspectives. Cotter won the attention of AAN with her article on forensic nurses as allies to abuse victims.
In order for nursing to get more and better media coverage, Cotter encourages all nurses to contact their local newspapers when they are doing something extraordinary.
“Most reporters love telling stories, good ones, and the forensic nursing story was that story for me,” said Cotter.
To learn more about Barbara Cotter and the 2013 Excellence in Media Award, visit www.aannet.org.
Tweets of the Month
Highlights from The Campaign's Twitter Conversation
Can’t get enough buzz about the Campaign and want more updates on the nursing profession? Follow us on Twitter @JNJNursingNotes to stay in the loop!
Here are a few highlights from the conversation this month:
- @JNJNursingNotes: What does being a successful #nurse mean to you? Reply, and we'll RT your responses! pic.twitter.com/H0TrXDK6iJ
@seJacksonn: @JNJNursingNotes being physically and emotionally present for my patients, and not becoming task oriented! #successful #nurse
- @KaplanNCLEX: Health is... bit.ly/1aTRxQs What is #health to you? @JNJNursingNotes
- @VintexQuality: Interested in #nursing? Explore @JNJNursingNotes free materials and guides on how to get started. http://ow.ly/qzttN
- @JNJNursingNotes: Check out this video on preventing #nurse fatigue from @RTConnections bit.ly/16II66a
@seJacksonn: @JNJNursingNotes Many thanks for sharing!!! We have to be vigilant against burnout! Nurses need to feel good about the work we do!
Coming to Nursing Notes in January
Next year promises to be an exciting year for Nursing Notes! Stay tuned for announcements related to topics and specialties to be featured in next year’s issues of the e-newsletter, and invite your friends and colleagues to subscribe at www.discovernursing.com/news. If you have ideas for topics that you would like to submit for consideration, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.