The Power of Philanthropy: Nurses Step Up in Fight Against Cancer
The definition of philanthropy is the desire to promote, or the promotion of, the well-being and quality of life of human beings. Many would say the same thing about nurses – the act of caring tends to be synonymous with the nursing profession, and many people choose nursing as a career because they want to care for other individuals. Throughout their work day, nurses contribute their time and effort to improving the lives of others, which in turn builds trust with their patients and community.
This trust and positive influence can be leveraged to help further improve public health outcomes. There are countless ways nursing skills and knowledge lend themselves to volunteerism, advocacy and activism, and many nurses go above and beyond their careers by helping non-profit organizations to make a difference for people facing health-related struggles. By working in collaboration with other initiatives, nurses can further extend their passion for caring for people.
One example of a nurse going a step further in helping others is Jennifer Flynn, RN, BSN, CPHON at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colo. For the last couple of years, Flynn has attended local events hosted by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity funding research to find cures for childhood cancers. The Foundation is widely recognized for its head-shaving events as a way to raise funds for cancer research. After attending several events, Flynn and her nursing colleague, Lauren Steinmetz, RN, BSN, CPHON, CPN at Children’s Hospital Colorado, decided that they wanted to shave their heads, too. Their team name is BALD NURSES, and to date, they have raised nearly $4,000.
“I’ve always loved going to the events to watch as the participants get their heads shaved. It’s a fun way to raise money for an extremely worthy cause. Plus, I can see how it positively impacts cancer patients,” said Flynn. “We’re shaving our heads for the benefit of our patients. The money raised will go to giving them a better chance of survival and the hope of finding a cure. There’s no better reason than that.”
Gay-Lynne Jones, RN, Regional Director of Cancer Services at Altus Healthcare Management Service in Beaumont, Tex., is another example of a nurse helping to support a philanthropic initiative. Jones has been participating in American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life events at the community and national level since 1994.
“Relay for Life provides people with great ways to come together and support cancer patients and survivors in their own local communities. Whether it’s raising funds for research or sharing valuable educational resources for patients and their caregivers, Relay for Life makes a tremendous difference in the fight against cancer,” said Jones.
Participating in events like Relay for Life can introduce you to others who are facing similar challenges, and provide you with opportunities for learning, sharing and friendship. For nurses in particular, philanthropic events are a great way to get involved in something outside of work, while still being able to make a difference in the lives of patients.
“The value of participating in philanthropies is significant and indescribable – your efforts can help restore people’s hope, provide inspiration and offer resources that all work together to help change lives. I’m so proud to be a part of an initiative that can so greatly help others,” said Jones.
To learn more about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and its head-shaving fundraisers, visit www.stbaldricks.org.
For more information about how you can participate in a Relay for Life event, visit www.relayforlife.org.
Philanthropies Help Student Nurses Gain Experience in Patient Care
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are currently more than 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the United States. With so many philanthropies to choose from, there is a unique opportunity for people across the nation to volunteer with organizations they are passionate for and give back to their communities. Student nurses in particular can help nurture their growing set of nursing skills while volunteering their time to help those in need.
That’s why Emily Kraemer, a senior at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing in Lexington, Ky., chose to participate in the University of Kentucky’s largest philanthropy, DanceBlue, a 24-hour no sleep, no sitting, dance marathon fundraising event that benefits patients at the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Hematology & Oncology Clinic. Kraemer will be dancing for 24-hours straight alongside 150 of her fellow nursing school classmates at the end of February.
According to Kraemer, who also works as a nursing care technician at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, DanceBlue helps her feel a greater understanding for what the patients and their families are going through. “In the classroom and in our clinical rounds, we learn about the difficulties that pediatric hematology and oncology patients go through, so when you are given a chance to give back in a small way, you jump at it,” she said. “DanceBlue celebrates patients and their families, and I can speak for a lot of the nursing students in saying that we just want to be a part of that celebration.”
Student nurses may also find it is helpful to volunteer with a non-profit organization that offers opportunities specific to their intended career path, such as through the American Red Cross. For more than 50 years, the Red Cross has worked with student nurses and nursing faculty to help students develop basic leadership skills, provide meaningful services and help prepare for, prevent and respond to disaster emergencies.
“There are several opportunities for student nurses within the Red Cross, including the Red Cross Disaster Health and Sheltering two-part education course,” said Cheryl Schmidt, Ph.D., RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN, Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Nursing in Little Rock, Ark., and Subject Matter Expert for Nursing Education for the Red Cross.
Schmidt, who helped develop the disaster course, said it was designed specifically to educate nursing students about volunteering for disaster relief operations, especially in the shelter environment. The course is now taught in numerous nursing schools across the country, and has helped to better prepare student nurses to help with disaster situations.
“This course is a great learning opportunity for students, as they take on the roles and responsibilities of a Disaster and Health Services Volunteer, which helps them in their overall nursing education,” said Schmidt. “After Hurricane Katrina, we had a huge influx of student nurses that were trained and helped support those who had evacuated, and a lot of them wanted to stay even after their duties had ended. We’ve seen that once students get involved, they stay involved,” said Schmidt.
For more information about the University of Kentucky’s DanceBlue Marathon, visit www.danceblue.org.
To find out more about volunteer and training opportunities for student nurses with the American Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org.
Get to Know
Lynn Erdman, RN, MN, OCNS, FAAN, Vice President of Community Health for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in Charlotte, N.C.
Q. When did you decide to pursue a career in nursing and why?
A. It was in the summer during college. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do between my freshman and sophomore years, but I was an intern at the local hospital and really thought that it was an amazing place. I remember being inspired by the nurses that I saw working day-in and day-out, and that's when my interest in nursing really peaked.
After finishing nursing school, I started as a neonatal intensive care nurse. I remember being called to the director's office and thinking I had done something wrong – far from it! She was getting ready to open a cancer unit in the hospital and needed a few energetic young nurses to help out. She offered me the opportunity to help out for six months, and afterwards I could work anywhere in the hospital with any shifts I wanted. I jumped at the opportunity for better shifts, but I always thought I'd stick with childcare. Once I got a taste of oncology, however, I fell in love and never looked back.
Q. How did you become involved with Susan G. Komen for the Cure?
A. I received a community grant from the organization when I was still working in the hospital. They had assigned tasks related to nurse navigation and advocacy for breast cancer patients. That was only the beginning of my involvement with the organization, as I later volunteered to help organize their first Race for the Cure in Charlotte, N.C. I crossed paths with Susan G. Komen for the Cure several times throughout my career before finally joining them professionally.
Q. What do you enjoy most about nursing?
A. I have always loved mentoring nurses. I have had several wonderful mentors in my life, so I want to pay it forward. Any time a nurse comes to me for advice – especially as it relates to oncology as a specialty – I am happy to offer my support and guide him or her through important decisions about his or her career. I think good mentors help enrich the profession by opening up the potential in many young nurses beyond what they may have learned in nursing school.
My main passion for nursing, however, comes from helping patients and their families think through and understand their cancer diagnosis. Cancer will have a different effect on every patient, but each one faces extremely tough challenges that I do my best to help guide them through. I truly enjoy going back to my roots as a nurse by working with patients to make a difference in their lives.
Q. What has been the greatest moment in your career?
A. My work to help create the Presbyterian Cancer Center in Charlotte stands out as the most significant event in my career. To help build it from the ground up and see what it does for patients and their families – as well as the practitioners working in it – is definitely a great moment for me.
Ask a Nurse
Learn from Industry Leaders How to Kick-Start Your Nursing Career
Student nurses and new nurses – are you interested in learning how to expand your network, prep for interviews or gain valuable experience in nursing? Or maybe you want to know what to expect during your first year as a nurse. We are inviting student nurses and nurses with less than five years of nursing experience 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 was your biggest challenge starting out as a nurse?
A. It's certainly tough when nurses come out of school. My biggest challenge was deciding which specialty to work in. I always thought I’d stick with neonatal intensive care, but I ended up in adult oncology.
I had studied in several different areas with many professors and mentors, and all of these factors played into my thinking that I wanted to stick with neonatal intensive care. It wasn’t until I got into the real world with real work experience that I realized I wasn’t sure. Figuring out my path from one specialty to the other was a challenge – it’s important to stay patient throughout the process.
-Lynn Erdman, RN, MN, OCNS, FAAN, Vice President of Community Health for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in Charlotte, N.C. Erdman has been a nurse for more than 25 years.
Q. What advice would you give to new nurses to help them avoid burnout?
A. Stay positive. Don’t let other people talk you out of what you love. Possibly switch specialties, but don’t become a job-hopper. And never stop learning – learn something new every day.
I also strongly encourage nursing students to get involved, and find something to do to help the community.
-Cheryl Schmidt, Ph.D., RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN, Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Nursing in Little Rock, Ark., and Subject Matter Expert for Nursing Education for the Red Cross. Schmidt has been working for the Red Cross since 1974.
Q. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out in your career?
A. As a new nurse, I was always trying to get everything done before I left for the day without realizing that some things could be passed on to another nurse on the next shift. It’s important not to stress yourself out over tasks that another nurse is perfectly capable of handling. You need to know when it’s okay to stop, relax and go home for the day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to ask for help or to delegate things to your colleagues.
-Jennifer Flynn, RN, BSN, CPHON at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colo. Flynn has been a nurse since 2005.
Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program
Attention advanced practice nurses! Duke University School of Medicine has teamed up with Johnson & Johnson to form the Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program. This initiative provides advanced practice nurses with a yearlong leadership development opportunity to learn how to facilitate change in a rapidly evolving healthcare environment. Upon completing the program, nurses will be prepared to lead healthcare teams in a wide variety of clinical environments.
Applications for the 2013-2014 program year are currently being accepted. The deadline to apply is February 28, 2013. Applicants must submit a questionnaire provided by the program along with a Letter of Commitment from his or her employer or Board of Directors. Nurses can request an application by sending an email to Duke-JJNurseLeadership@duke.edu.
To learn more about the program, visit www.duke.edu.
Health Awareness Events
Throughout the next few weeks, health professionals and community groups from across the world will be sponsoring health promotion events to help stimulate awareness of health risks, diseases and emerging issues in healthcare.
- Black History Month: February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate and recognize the achievements of African Americans throughout U.S. history. Among those champions are black nurses who continue to shape healthcare equality and the nursing profession. On February 7, 2013, the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA), a non-profit organization that facilitates collective action by black nurses to address healthcare needs of African Americans, celebrated its 25th Annual National Black Nurses Day on Capitol Hill. More than 450 nurses and nursing students attended the event to educate Congress on the nursing shortage, nursing profession and healthcare disparities. For more information about the NBNA, visit www.nbna.org.
- Rare Disease Awareness Day: February 28, 2013 marks the sixth annual international Rare Disease Awareness Day. On this day, hundreds of patient organizations from more than 60 countries and regions worldwide will host and participate in activities to help bring recognition to rare diseases and the people affected by them. Currently, approximately 30 million Americans are affected by almost 7,000 rare diseases, and the rarity of these diseases can make it difficult for affected individuals to receive an accurate diagnosis or proper care. For more information about how you can get involved, visit www.rarediseaseday.org.
- National Sleep Awareness Week: The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) will be releasing its annual Sleep in America poll results on March 4, 2013. Since 1991, the poll has been conducted as an annual check-up on Americans’ sleep health practices. The NSF will release the results of the poll at its annual Sleep Health and Safety conference, which also marks the start of National Sleep Awareness Week™ (March 3-10, 2013), an annual public education and awareness campaign designed to promote the importance of sleep. The final day of the week coincides with the beginning of Daylight Saving Time (DST), when Americans lose one hour of sleep. For more information about National Sleep Awareness Week, visit www.sleepfoundation.org.
National Healthcare CNO Summit 2013
The National Healthcare Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Summit will be held in Atlanta, Ga. from March 14-15. The Summit will bring together senior nursing executives from healthcare systems and individual hospitals responsible for nursing informatics, patient care services and clinical services decision-making.
The primary objective of the National Healthcare CNO Summit is to explore key aspects and issues related to healthcare best practices and their application as drivers for innovation and growth. Attendees will explore and discuss developments and challenges of healthcare delivery, quality healthcare and patient centered care from a nurse perspective. The Summit’s program topics have been pinpointed and validated by the nursing community as the top critical issues they face.
Tweets of the Month
Highlights from The Campaign's Twitter Conversation
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @JNJNursingNotes to keep up with news from the Campaign. We’d also love to introduce you to our followers! Tweet to us with the hashtag #nurseprofile, tell us your specialty and how long you’ve been a nurse, and we’ll retweet you and share your story on our profile.
Here are a few highlights from the conversation this month:
- @Stratisinc: Promote #nursing - FREE items including 'Thank a Nurse' magnets & more! Check it out http://ow.ly/hoICv. Courtesy of @JNJNursingNotes
- @StaffWellGroup: Dean of @VanderbiltU School of #Nursing, predicts expanding role for highly trained #nurses http://ow.ly/hefjy via @JNJNursingNotes
- @sofipie: @JNJNursingNotes #Nurses are #love
- @KaplanNCLEX: #Nurses and #StudentNurses living with #disabilities have career tools and resources. Check them out: http://bit.ly/Wu3Jme @JNJNursingNotes
- @chamberlainedu: @JNJNursingNotes Photo: "This is my game face." Here's a shout out to nurses working during the #BigGame on Sunday! pic.twitter.com/ZtZyFQFb
Coming to Nursing Notes in March
The March issue of Nursing Notes will feature articles about diabetes nursing and highlight recent news from the Campaign. If you are a nurse who specializes in diabetes care and would like to be considered for an interview for our March issue, please send your statement of interest and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.