Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Kendra Coles

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Kendra Coles

Kendra Coles, DNP, RNC-OB, C-EFM, NEA-BC, is a seasoned nursing leader with over 20 years of experience in the field. For 17 years, she has been dedicated to women’s services and has a wealth of knowledge in managing inpatient and outpatient obstetric care. She also has a knack for communication and team empowerment. Coles is known for optimizing performance and outcomes for obstetric and neonatal populations, achieved through fostering collaboration and building multidisciplinary teams.meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-kendra-coles

Since 2019, Coles has been Director of Women’s & Children’s Services at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center (UM BWMC). In this role, she oversees a team of 125 FTEs across various units, including Labor & Delivery, Postpartum, Pediatrics, and Special Care Nursery. Coles is responsible for strategic planning, equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives and developing nurse leaders. She is committed to achieving organizational goals while maintaining fiscal responsibility and ensuring the highest quality and safety standards for patients and staff.

She’s highly skilled in change management and program development, which has been critical in introducing obstetric and newborn care services. Her expertise and leadership have made her a trusted figure in the field.

Coles’ contributions to the nursing field have earned her a spot in the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2024. This series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and making significant changes in the nursing field.

Meet Kendra Coles, DNP, RNC-OB, C-EFM, NEA-BC, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at the UM BWMC.

Talk about your role in nursing.

As the Director of Nursing for Women’s and children’s services, my responsibilities include the operations of obstetrics, newborns, and pediatric care. In this role, I have the honor of impacting the care that women receive during pregnancy and delivery, a newborn’s early days of life, and sick children who require hospitalization. The role requires leading health initiatives such as hypertension and hemorrhage management, safe sleep, and pediatric respiratory illness management.

As a health equity leader and advocate, I have led initiatives to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality and served on the Anne Arundel County Maternal Infant Health Task Force. I co-chair the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Council at UM BWMC and train other nursing teams in leadership, communication, and staff empowerment to optimize performance and patient outcomes.

How long have you worked in the nursing field?

I have over 26 years of nursing experience and have been a nursing leader for 20 years. My clinical experiences include caring for patients in Labor and Delivery, Mother, Baby, and Nursery. I also have expertise in the operations of inpatient and outpatient care.

Why did you become a nurse?

I became a nurse because I genuinely wanted to care for others. I was raised in a family of five kids and watched my mom always care for someone in the home or family. Nursing is a noble and humbling profession that allows interpersonal reward.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

Resilience, compassion, innovation, and grace. Today’s nurse leaders must be resilient as they face daily changes in healthcare. Compassion is needed to care for the patients, but it is also required for the care of the staff caring for others. Nursing leaders must develop and embrace new technologies and advances in clinical practices in a rapidly evolving healthcare system. As the nursing leader supports innovation, it’s through grace that you allow forgiveness and create an environment where learning occurs for team members. Grace can also be given to patients who desire to improve their health status and may not always have the resources to make the healthiest choices. We offer our patients new opportunities to be informed and empowered in their care through grace.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

As a nursing leader, my task is helping others to help others. Nursing leaders can ensure our patients have the best outcomes by leading a team of professionals to their highest potential and encouraging their growth as caregivers. Nursing leaders drive changes that change lives. I’m most proud of starting an obstetric program at UM BWMC in 2009 and participating in its ongoing growth to improve maternal and newborn care in Anne Arundel County.

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

My nursing career started in 1997 at the University of Maryland Medical Center, the University of Maryland Medical Systems’ academic hospital in downtown Baltimore, serving in Labor & Delivery. I simultaneously worked at another hospital in the region in the Mother Baby Unit. I found myself excited about the nursing profession and joined a nursing agency where I took on a variety of nursing contracts caring for obstetric and newborn patients. My interest in leadership began as a charge nurse at UMMC and grew into a senior clinical nurse role. I was offered an opportunity for frontline leaders to obtain a Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership & Management. I completed my Master of Science in Nursing in 2009 as UM BWMC started recruiting for their new OB program leadership and staff. As a brand-new manager, I recruited a phenomenal team to open the Pascal Women’s Center. In 2018, following the retirement of the director at the time and a national recruitment effort, I was chosen to advance into the Director of Nursing role.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

The most significant challenge facing nursing is staffing shortages. Like many industries, especially health care, COVID-19 changed the workforce. Nurses experienced compassion fatigue, burnout, and difficulty finding work-life balance. They began to leave the bedside, searching for a less stressful environment or more profitable opportunities. Subsequently, the nursing shortage grew, and we continue to rebuild the nursing workforce.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

Developing and introducing new nurses into the profession is an ongoing challenge. As a nurse leader, I have embraced programs such as the Academy of Clinical Essentials, an initiative developed and spearheaded by the UMMS Chief Executive Officer, which allows nursing students to partner alongside one of our experienced nurses and have early exposure to the art of nursing. We have modified our nursing preceptor program to enable our most experienced nurse to focus on a core group of new hires. We have customized our nurse residency program for the OB, Neonatal, and Pediatric specialties. We have integrated simulations as a core training component in team building and communication skills in high-risk situations. To help our teams address fatigue and burnout, we offer flexible staffing, relaxation rooms, and RISE support resources.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

Rose L. Horton, MSM, RNC-OB, NEA-BC, FAAN, the Founder and CEO of #Notonmywatch Consulting Partners, inspires me. She is a Women & Infant health care executive leader at Emory Decatur Hospital, who believes nurses can change maternal morbidity and mortality. Horton called nurses to action by encouraging them to use their voices to support and advocate for others. She has been a strong influence for improving care during her tenure as the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) president and while serving on the Synova leadership Board of Directors. I’m really inspired by her dedication to raising awareness about issues compounding black maternal health and how she successfully advocates for change.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

No matter how hard your shift may seem, never forget why you became a nurse. Take every opportunity to serve and care for someone else because you never know the difference you make.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Kimberly Cook

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Kimberly Cook

Kimberly Cook, RN, BSN, is a highly accomplished nurse leader with a 30-year career in the healthcare industry. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a nursing degree and became a nurse in the Army early in her career. During wartime, Cook showed her dedication and commitment to patient care, which instilled in her a profound sense of duty, resilience, and an unwavering ability to thrive under pressure. meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-kimberly-cook

Throughout her career, Cook has held various management positions where she consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities. She rose through the ranks quickly, earning the respect and admiration of her colleagues, staff, and executive team. Her visionary mindset has enabled her to drive positive change and implement innovative strategies within healthcare. 

Cook holds the Director of Nursing Administration Staffing position at the University of Maryland Capital Region Health, a member organization of the University of Maryland Medical System. In this role, Cook leads a team of dedicated professionals, tirelessly ensuring that the right resources and personnel are available to deliver quality patient care.

Cook is an important nursing leader, and we’re proud to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2024. The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.

Meet Kimberly Cook, RN, BSN, Nurse Director, Nursing Admin/Staffing at the University of Maryland Capital Region Health.

Talk about your role in nursing.

As the Director of Nursing Administration/Staffing, I hold a key leadership position responsible for overseeing the nursing administration and staffing functions within UM Capital Region Health. My key responsibilities include the following:

  • Provide strong leadership and guidance to the nursing administration and staffing team.
  • Develop and implement strategic goals, objectives, and policies related to nursing administration and staffing.
  • Foster a positive and collaborative work environment that promotes teamwork, respect, and professional development.
  • Develop and execute staffing plans to ensure optimal allocation of nursing staff across all departments and shifts.
  • Collaborate with unit managers to monitor and maintain appropriate staffing levels based on acuity and workload demands.
  • Implement effective scheduling practices to ensure adequate coverage and adherence to the Collective Bargaining Agreement and budgeted financial targets.
  • Prepare and manage the nursing administration and staffing budget, ensuring efficient resource allocation.
  • Manage and assess daily productivity and labor management.
  • Monitor and control staffing-related expenditures, identifying cost savings without compromising patient care.
  • Monitor and evaluate staff performance, providing regular feedback, coaching, and recognition.
  • Collaborate with quality management teams to identify improvement areas and implement initiatives to enhance patient outcomes.
  • Oversee the recruitment and selection process for staff and agency staff.
  • Onboard new staff and agency staff.
  • Manage all agency staff recruitment, onboarding, and billing.

How long have you worked in the nursing field?

> 32 years

Why did you become a nurse? 

I attended a Catholic high school where volunteering was a requirement to graduate. I volunteered at a local hospital because it was close to my school. Prior to volunteering, the field of nursing had not crossed my mind. However, observing the fantastic work of nurses during my volunteer service triggered that “ah ha” moment, where I realized that Nursing was the profession I wanted to pursue.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders?

There are several important attributes of today’s nursing leaders. The one that is most important for me is adaptability and resilience. The healthcare industry is continuously evolving, and nursing leaders must be adaptable to embrace change and lead their teams through transitions. They should be resilient in the face of challenges, remaining calm and composed while leading others.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

Being a nurse leader involves inspiring and influencing others towards a common goal. I am most proud when I can create and sustain effective teams while fostering a positive work environment where staff feel supported and valued.

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

My Career began as an Army nurse. After leaving active duty, I remained a federal employee working in a military hospital. My first job was as a manager of two 40-bed Med Surg Units. After several years in a managerial role, I transitioned to nursing supervisor. As a Nursing Supervisor, I had a keen sense of staffing and how it applied to budgeting and productivity. The role of the Director opened, and I was asked to step into the role based on my previous work and reputation.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

The biggest challenge in nursing today is our ability to change and adapt as healthcare changes. Since Covid, we have had to be creative with staffing to care for our patients. However, we must remember to care for our staff in the same frame.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

By keeping the organization’s goals in sight, but always remaining humble and empathetic.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?  

General Hazel Johnson-Brown was the first African-American woman to become a General in the United States Army and the first African-American Chief of the Army Nurse Corps. Her accomplishments and impact have had a profound effect. Her success demonstrated that black women could achieve the highest leadership positions with determination, perseverance, and skill.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

Nursing can be challenging at times, and there may be moments when you feel discouraged. However, it’s essential to recognize that even the most challenging days present valuable personal and professional growth opportunities. Keep moving forward confidently, knowing that tomorrow will bring a fresh start.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Dr. Farah Laurent

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Dr. Farah Laurent

Meet Farah Laurent, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, NPD-BC, CPXP, TCRN, CPEN, CEN. She is a nurse career coach and passionate about helping other nurses achieve their career goals. Dr. Laurent is a former level 1 trauma emergency nurse and a strong advocate for nurses. She is the director of nursing for a nursing program at a community college and an active member of various nursing organizations such as the National Nurses in Business Association, ENA, ANA, NLN, DNP of Color, and AONE. Her goal is to make a positive impact in the nursing profession every day. Meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-farah-laurent

Dr. Laurent’s mission is to empower nurses, especially nursing students, to advocate for themselves, their patients, and the profession. She amplifies nurses’ voices through her LinkedIn show “The Nursing Dose with Farah,” where she interviews nurses from around the world to speak on different nursing topics such as leadership, mentorship, nurse entrepreneurship, wellness, and career tips. Dr. Laurent is a nursing trailblazer and the founder of Farah Laurent International Nurse Coach LLC, where she provides unparalleled career guidance to help nurses level up and land their dream positions. 

She actively mentors for the American Nurses Association and the Canadian Black Nurses Alliance and is dedicated to advancing the profession and increasing diversity in the nursing workforce. Dr. Laurent is not only changing the nursing game, but she’s also transforming the entire industry with her electric energy and unwavering commitment to excellence. She is a force to be reckoned with!

Dr. Laurent is an important nursing leader, and we’re proud to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2024. The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.

Meet Farah Laurent, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, NPD-BC, CPXP, TCRN, CPEN, CEN, a director of nursing for a nursing program at a community college and a nurse career coach.

What is your title, and where do you work? Feel free to include a side gig, too.

I am currently the Director of Nursing for a nursing program at a community college.

I am the founder of Farah Laurent International Nurse Coach, where I provide career guidance to nurses looking to enter the nursing profession or change careers! I am a dynamic speaker, author, educator, workshop facilitator, and world traveler!

I host my own LinkedIn live show entitled “The Nursing Dose with Farah,” where I interview different nursing guests and cover topics that matter to the nursing community. I plan to turn it into a Podcast in the next few weeks, and it will be available on Spotify.

Talk about your role in nursing

As a Nurse Career Coach, I assist all nurses with career guidance, no matter where they are in their careers. Some of my most popular services include resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation, and career clarity. Most of my clients are new graduate nurses; however, I have also helped nurses land educator roles and leadership roles.

I guide nurses on how to self-promote, communicate confidently, and be more visible! After working with me, most of my clients have one common theme: experiencing a change in mindset and a transformation of increased confidence.

As a nursing student, I did not see faculty that looked like me or had no mentors. One of my clinical instructors once told me in my senior year that I would never be an emergency nurse and laughed in my face. I did not listen to that negativity and passionately pursued my dream of becoming an emergency nurse as a new graduate nurse! I became a very successful emergency nurse with multiple certifications. I was awarded the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) and Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) doctoral scholarships. I also most recently was allowed to be a peer reviewer for the Journal of Emergency Nursing (JEN), which I am incredibly proud to be a part of.

I am passionate about this career coaching business because today, I am what I need as a new nurse. I am all about empowering nurses and celebrating the nursing profession! I am here to disrupt the status quo and shatter old nursing narratives.

As the Director of Nursing at the community college, I lead a team of nursing faculty and coordinate the nursing program to achieve excellent program outcomes. I am proud that this community college is contributing to increasing the diversity in nursing.

How long have you worked in the nursing field?

Although it does seem like that long ago, I have been a nurse for over 20 years. I started my career in Canada as an emergency nurse. I then combined my love of Emergency Medicine and traveling by moving to New York City as a travel nurse. I worked in various emergency departments and level 1 trauma centers. Naturally, I became a preceptor, mentor, and coach, so I pursued my master’s in nursing education. It took me over 2 years to land an educator role, but I was relentless. I simultaneously accepted 2 positions as adjunct faculty for NYU and as a clinical educator.

Although I had some wonderful experiences as a nurse, I also faced many challenges with bullying, discrimination, and racism. I held various roles in education and leadership. I experienced a blindsided layoff as the Director of Education, which was a complete awakening for me. I realized that there is no such thing as job security and had to rely on my coaching income until I found my next position.

As a recent business owner, I am committed to helping other nurses find their space in entrepreneurship. I wrote a book entitled “Nurses Making Money Moves: A Nurses Guide to Starting a Business.” The traditional education system does not promote entrepreneurship, especially not in nursing. I want nurses to be exposed to different nursing roles and opportunities beyond the beside. Throughout my nursing career, I consistently had 2 or 3 jobs to supplement my income. Sometimes, it can be challenging in these nursing streets, and nurses want to make more money!

Why did you become a nurse? 

I was always attracted to healthcare and helping people. I used to use all the Band-Aids for my dolls and would nurse them to health as young as 4. One of my favorite shows was “Trauma: Life in the ER,” so I was meant to be an ER nurse! My career choices were being either a choreographer or a professional photographer, so I chose wisely! My personality is laid back, calm, adventurous, and humorous, so I fit right in!

What are the most essential attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

Leaders should have integrity, empathy, emotional intelligence, patience, and humility. Leaders should be creative, inclusive, transparent, strategic/critical thinkers, optimistic, passionate, and accountable. Nursing leaders should be charismatic, effective communicators, and lead by example. They should have a strong vision that can inspire others into action and create new leaders.

Most importantly, leaders must listen to their teams and collaborate easily.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

Being a nursing leader means genuinely caring about people, whether those people are patients, employees, colleagues, or external stakeholders. I am most proud of the values my parents instilled in me. It does not matter who it is; everyone deserves kindness, respect, and understanding.

I am proud of how I connect with people and the relationships I have built, mentoring nurses and empowering them to pursue their dreams, goals, and aspirations. Nursing is not just a profession; it is a calling. I am proud to be a nurse; it is truly an honor and privilege. Nurses make an impact in the world every single day.

I am proud of obtaining my doctoral despite all the hardships I have faced and that I am a role model for my 2 young children. I am proud to be an immigrant and first-gen graduate!

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

I sometimes found it very hard to advance to new roles or get promoted even though I was the most qualified candidate. I have fought extremely hard to get to where I am today, and it was a challenging climb. This career path has no linear path and many winds and turns.

My grit and conviction in my abilities have gotten me this far. I always had a passion for learning and continuous improvement. I would create goals, smash them, and move on to the next. I hold 6 board certifications. I recently graduated from a DNP program in organizational leadership. I started my doctoral program while working full-time when my daughter was just a few months old, and my son was 4. Everyone thought I was crazy, including some of my family members, but I was determined to do what I wanted.

I have some great preceptors and mentors along my nursing journey. This is why I am such an advocate for mentorship. I serve as a mentor for the American Nurses Association and the Canadian Black Nurses Alliance. Representation matters, so I like to make myself visible to other nurses.

I love sharing my nursing journey because many other nurses can relate, and it can give me the strength to keep moving forward. I have participated in many nursing organizations, such as the ANPD, ENA, STN, AONL, NLN, and most recently, the DNP of Color. I am committed to advancing our profession and working to increase diversity in our workforce.

I am a passionate and dynamic speaker. I have spoken at many different nursing conferences and events. I recently spoke at the National Nurses in Business Association about nursing entrepreneurship. I love positively representing the nursing profession and recruiting for our profession. I have been featured in different nursing media/podcasts and always look for ways to collaborate.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

In the spirit of full transparency, nursing issues are very complex. I will discuss a few problems from my perspective working in Canada and the USA.

Nursing retention crisis: There is a lot of talk about the nursing shortage. However, there is a more significant issue with nursing retention. Nursing organizations must make a considerable commitment to creating healthy work environments. I believe inadequate staffing is one of the most complex global issues nursing faces.

Education: Organizations need to create supportive structured orientations for novice nurses and nurses transitioning to different areas of nursing. Nurses want professional development and growth opportunities.

Leadership: Nurse leaders need leadership training like nurses transitioning into any other specialty. There needs to be more nursing leadership training. Nurse leaders need to lead with more empathy and kindness. We desperately need diverse leaders.

Racism in healthcare: There are many issues surrounding racism in healthcare that are deeply rooted in structural racism. We need more nurses to be involved in policy on a national level. The nursing profession must create strong nurse advocates that challenge the status quo. There needs to be more diversity in the nursing workforce and more grants/scholarships. We need more diverse faculty in nursing academia.

Mental health: Mental health is such an important topic in healthcare. There has been more attention and efforts to mitigate burnout. Even though I loved working in the emergency department, there came a point after 13 years that I was feeling the burnout. In my doctoral studies, I created a toolkit with stress reduction strategies for nurses. Wellness remains the number one priority for nurses.

Compensation: Nurses need to get paid more, PERIOD. Nurses need better benefits, more days off, and flexible schedules.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

My contribution to improving the complexities of these challenges is to bring awareness to them and advocate, educate, coach, and mentor them. I can make an impact by educating nurses by speaking at events, networking, and being on various nursing media. Sharing my own personal nursing journey and experiences can help the new generation of nurses.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

Dr. Katie Boston Leary inspires me because she is a true leader and advocate for our profession. She is a trailblazer who is fearless in her pursuit to address issues such as racism in healthcare. She is currently the Director of Nursing Programs at the American Nurses Association.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

I want to tell Nurses that they can accomplish anything they want. Surrounding yourself with positive people and having multiple mentors is vital to success. Be a mentor and a mentee. You always have something to share, even as a nursing student.

Get involved in your community and professional nursing organizations. Networking will have a significant impact on your professional advancement. Do not be afraid to promote yourself and celebrate your accomplishments. Negotiate your salary. Learn to ask for what you want and need.

There is no right way or no one way. You do not have to do just one thing and be put in a box. Please do what YOU want to do. Do not listen to negativity. Nursing is the best profession in the world, with over 100 different roles! Nursing will open so many doors. No decision is final. Enjoy the journey and make an impact. Take care of yourself first.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Dr. Selena Gilles

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Dr. Selena Gilles

Selena Gilles, DNP, ANP-BC, CNEcl, FNYAM, is a Clinical Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the Undergraduate Programs at New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing.

She’s also an Affiliate Faculty member of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing (HIGN), where she serves as Co-Director of the HIGN Scholars Program, an Affiliate Associate Professor at Howard University College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, and a Volunteer Associate Professor for the State University of Haiti.

Dr. Gilles is known for creating and implementing nontraditional immersive teaching/learning innovations to address nationally identified nursing education issues that will enhance student learning/program outcomes.

She is regarded as a leader and prelicensure nursing education expert who has implemented curricular innovations that have been evidence-based, creative, and effective teaching strategies that span multiple courses at Meyers and settings outside of Meyers, significantly impacting student academic success and role transitions.

Dr. Gilles’s contributions have helped enhance the nursing curriculum, filling identified gaps and answering the new essentials call for all entry-level professional nurses to have knowledge and proficiencies to practice across various settings in wellness/disease prevention and chronic disease management.

She’s passionate about the management of acute and chronic pain, as well as opioid overdose prevention, and is the Program Director of the Greater NYC Black Nurses Association Opioid Overdose Prevention Program. Dr. Gilles has strong community advocacy and a passion for global health; currently working with organizations aimed to serve the underprivileged and underserved communities in Haiti, Ghana, and Nigeria and has been on six medical missions.

Dr. Selena Gilles is an important nursing leader, and we’re proud to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2024. The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-dr-selena-gilles

Meet Dr. Selena Gilles, Clinical Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the Undergraduate Program at New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing.

Talk about your role in nursing.

I am a Clinical Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the Undergraduate Program at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. I am also an Affiliate Associate Professor at Howard University College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences and a Volunteer Associate Professor for the State University of Haiti. I am a certified Clinical Nurse Educator and certified in Critical Care Nursing. As an Adult Nurse Practitioner, I specialize in neuro and pain management, including medical marijuana and opioid overdose prevention.

I have always been passionate about giving back to my community, which often lacks the resources and support to combat health disparities, inequities, and social injustice. With a proven track record of volunteering, my work with nursing organizations and community groups has impacted thousands of students, nursing colleagues, and community members locally and globally. 

My pioneering work has impacted 8,000+ disadvantaged patients in Haiti, Ghana, and Nigeria. As a volunteer Nurse Practitioner for seven medical missions, I have significantly contributed by educating local professionals and providing appropriate patient care while mentoring nursing students in global health initiatives. My innovations enhance health professions curricula with local/global community-based experiences, fill international gaps, and prepare nurses to gain essential competencies across cultures and practice settings.

How long have you worked in the nursing field?

I have been in nursing for 18 years. It’s hard to wrap my head around that question whenever I answer it. It feels like it was just yesterday when I graduated from nursing school. I have been a nurse practitioner and nurse educator for 13 years.

Why did you become a nurse? 

My grandmother migrated to Brooklyn in 1969 from North Carolina with her three daughters at a time when being black in the South was still dangerous. My grandmother struggled with heart disease and diabetes and suffered a stroke, as do many African Americans in underserved communities. Seeing her severely ill is what sparked my interest in a healthcare career.

Aside from my grandmother, my parents have been very influential in my career. My mom grew up in a very disadvantaged neighborhood. She spent her early years in a housing project. She worked for over thirty years as a certified nursing assistant. My father, a Haitian immigrant who came to America at age 20, instilled in me early on that I’d have to work twice as hard to get the same opportunities as my counterparts. I didn’t grow up in the best neighborhoods. As a latchkey kid who grew up in the NYC public schools, I knew I had to make it out of areas where most lack the resources to succeed. These are places where community members didn’t have the best healthcare access or all the resources required to live a healthy life, like safe areas to play or exercise or even grocery stores with fresh foods. That taught me about the impact of the social determinants of health and how I could serve as a community advocate to combat health disparities and inequities. 

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

Compassion, emotional intelligence, collaboration, resilience, determination, flexibility, innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving, diligence, not being afraid to challenge the status quo, advocates, and being a team player.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

Positions are temporary. Ranks and titles are limited. But the way you treat people is what will always be remembered. I am passionate about helping the underserved and will prioritize doing all I can to help those in need. As an award-winning expert clinician and community leader, I’ve launched effective models that bring under-resourced communities access to healthcare and education while creating nontraditional community-based immersive learning/interprofessional experiences for NP students. My groundbreaking contributions enhance the knowledge/competencies of 40,000+ healthcare professionals across community settings worldwide. I’ve secured corporate and community-based sponsorship for multiple community health initiatives and established an NP-led COVID-19 vaccine clinic that delivered 28,000+ vaccines to vulnerable people. As a volunteer NP, I have immersed nursing students in seven international medical missions, providing care to over 8,000 vulnerable patients and promoting health equity in Haiti, Ghana, and Nigeria. My innovations enhance health professions curricula with local/global community-based experiences, fill international gaps, and prepare nurses to gain essential competencies across cultures and practice settings

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

At some point in our careers, we’re all asked how we accomplished our goals. All of our stories are unique. When reflecting on my journey and my road to success, I’ve realized that all paths are not a straight line. My path had many bumps, obstacles, twists, and turns, and I’ve met many people. Often, when we think of education, we think of it in the traditional sense, whatever we’ve learned in school. Of course, as nurses, degrees earned ultimately shape our careers regarding the type of healthcare provider we become and the setting in which we practice. I’d say that my identity as a nurse started to develop way before I entered nursing school. I credit a lot of who I am as a nurse to all of the many experiences I’ve had along the way.

We are a product of our society and our parents and their struggles. It began with seeing my grandmother struggle with chronic illness and seeing my mom work long hours at the hospital. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to the best schools, reinforcing the importance of hard work and dedication. It gave me my drive, made me more ambitious, and taught me not to take no for an answer. This led me to continue to pursue higher education and seek a terminal nursing degree

I am the daughter of a Haitian immigrant. A father who told me I could have anything that I ever dreamt of if I just worked for it. He’s a huge part of where I get my work ethic from. Some may call me a latchkey kid, as my mom worked very hard at a Community hospital to provide for me. That experience taught me to be independent, self-sufficient, and hardworking. I learned that sometimes, you must sacrifice for the greater good. We’ve all made sacrifices for our patients

I think about my experiences in public school, where I didn’t have a lot of teachers who looked like me. You can’t be what you can’t see. In my third year of nursing school, I was exposed to two doctorally prepared women faculty of color. They gave me something to aspire to. It was at that moment that I realized that anything was possible. That my career in nursing could be whatever I wanted it to be. That shaped who I would become as a nurse in academia. So, I pay it forward by being that example. I wish I had more of this when I was pursuing my education. To look at my surroundings and advocate for more diverse faculty so that the diversity in leadership mirrors the diversity of our students and the patients we care for. To ensure our curriculum is diverse and inclusive, we are preparing culturally competent and aware nurses who can provide culturally appropriate care to all patients. This is the change I wish to see in the world. 

I started wanting to be a pediatrician after doing an externship in the pediatrics unit at the hospital where my mom worked as a teenager. That was my first taste of healthcare. I double majored in college because I didn’t come from money and knew medical school was expensive. I was premed with nursing as my backup. Seeing the great care my grandmother received from her ICU nurses at the end of her life, coupled with my early clinical experiences in nursing school, solidified that a career in nursing was best for me. After completing my degree and passing my licensing exam, I worked in a Med Surg unit for a year and then transferred to the medical ICU because I aspired to become a CRNA. At the same time, I enrolled in a master’s program to get a head start on core courses. I ultimately did not get into the CRNA program I applied to and ended up finishing my master’s and becoming an Adult NP. Upon graduating, I had difficulty finding a job as an NP. You did not see many working in the hospital at the time. One day, while working a shift in the ICU, I ran into a former colleague from my previous Med Surg unit. She had been working as an adjunct clinical instructor at my current institution and thought it would be a perfect fit for me. It wasn’t something I intended for myself, but I decided to try it, and the rest is history. The first and only hospital I’ve ever worked at now became the place where I would educate nursing students. Eventually, I secured a position at this same hospital as an NP in outpatient neurosurgery. Realizing I had a newfound love for nursing education, I began precepting NP students once I settled into my role. This led me to achieve my terminal nursing degree to pursue nursing education full-time. In my 13 years at NYU Meyers, I have strategically moved through the ranks. It feels like just yesterday when I was a clinical instructor. After completing my DNP, I advanced to clinical assistant professor, then a clinical associate professor seven years later. I have been active in the community locally and globally, taking on many leadership roles inside and outside my institution and spearheading many initiatives to advance health equity. In 2020, I was inducted as a fellow in the NY Academy of Medicine. In 2023, I was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and the Academy of Nursing Education.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

Historically, the image that comes to mind when people think of nurses is the caregiver at the bedside, following orders, administering medications, or being hands-on with their patients. They think of Florence Nightingale. Frankly, the first image is not likely of a person who looks like me. There is so much more work to do to improve diversity in nursing so that the nursing workforce mirrors the patient population they care for. There is still work to address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in the profession and healthcare. To dismantle the structural and systemic racism that unfortunately exists within our profession. We need more nurses and other healthcare professionals to keep our ever-changing healthcare systems functioning. We need providers who are not only culturally diverse and aware but committed to advancing the profession and working towards eliminating health disparities and inequities.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

Nurses should have a seat at every table, and if we don’t, as Shirley Chisholm says, pull up a chair. We are here because of pioneers like Sojourner Truth, Madame CJ Walker, Andres Fernandez, Mary Mahoney, Teresa Urrea, Mary Secole, Beverly Warne, Kay Fukuda, Junta Sotejo, and countless other nurses of color. I believe it’s important for nurses to have a seat at the table. Because of this, I prioritize dedicating my time to serving on boards of organizations that advance nursing and provide spaces for nurses of color to thrive and advocate for health equity. I am so grateful to DNPs of Color for creating a space where we can all come together, support, and encourage one another. Truly change the game and forge a new path through networking, mentorship, and advocacy. I am proud to serve as their Vice President.

I’m a founding member of the Greater New York City Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association, whose mission is “for the greater good.” The genesis of the Greater New York City – Black Nurses Association, Inc (GNYCBNA) was forged out of the need for a progressive and innovative chapter that addressed healthcare inequities in communities of color. The chapter was founded in 2017 and grew quickly. Through our various initiatives, we strive to positively impact the communities where we live, work, and play. The GNYCBNA’s mission and vision is to U.N.I.T.E. NYC: uplifting neighborhoods through innovation, teaching, and engagement. The cornerstone of GNYCBNA is innovative community service, focusing on health education, improving health, and building and strengthening the community. Through stand-alone efforts or collaboration with local, regional, and national community and professional organizations, GNYCBNA hosts and participates in at least 20 events each year. Committed to addressing health inequities, I spearheaded a strategic partnership between a federally qualified health center (FQHC), Stop the Spread, the Greater NYC chapter of the National Black Nurses Association (GNYCBNA), New York University (NYU) and Long Island University (LIU) Colleges of Nursing to establish four FEMA vaccination sites delivering 28000+ COVID vaccines (70% Black/Hispanic) during the height of the pandemic. As lead Community Liaison, I co-launched an NP-run vaccine clinic in an African-American church accessible to 180,000+ community members, providing access to vital healthcare services. I leveraged this collaboration to offer a semester-long immersive learning experience for 100+ pre-licensure nursing students working with medical students and registered nurses under the supervision of NPs to administer vaccines and provide health education to under-resourced communities disproportionately affected by COVID.

As the founder and inaugural Director of the GNYCBNA’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Training Program (designated by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene{DOHMH}), I was instrumental in addressing rising NYC opioid overdose death rates in communities of color. We provide annual training to 400+ undergraduate/graduate nursing students through a multi-university collaboration. We also developed an innovative partnership with national music artists, DJs, and an LGTBQ+ clinic, allowing us to create a community coalition delivering ongoing naloxone training to over 400 clubgoers, owners, and personnel within the LGBTQ+ community. Because of the success of our program, I collaborated with the DOHMH on their 2023 Overdose Awareness Media Campaign. As the only NP featured in the campaign, my ad highlighting the use of naloxone for overdose prevention has been placed around NYC in train and ferry stations, neighborhood businesses, and online (in English and Spanish). Banners can be found on the DOHMH website, and the videos are accessible on their  YouTube page.

I think about all of the mentoring I have received throughout my career. I gained all the knowledge from seasoned nurses, all of the great times, and, yes, even the challenging times. I sought out mentors because of their stellar leadership or outstanding accomplishments, as well as those who saw something in me that could develop into something even more significant and wanted to play a part in my professional development. They have helped me grow personally and professionally in so many ways. I’ve gotten so many opportunities from mentorship or simply connecting with different people I’ve met. Because of this, I pay it forward and mentor the next generation. I encourage others to pay it forward, mentor and support nurses of color, and do their part in diversifying our nursing workforce and combating health inequities.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

To know where we are going, we must understand where we came from. Black nurses can be found throughout U.S. history, but they faced racism on all fronts. It took dedication and perseverance to obtain an education and recognition. They had to fight to progress and pave the way for more nurses. Without them, there is no me. I think about Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first Black American to earn a professional nursing license, dedicating her life to increasing access to nursing education for people of color. I think about Estelle Massey Osbourne, the first Black American to earn a master’s degree in nursing. Because of her work, more nursing schools began to admit Black students. I think about Hazel Johnson-Brown, the first Black female brigadier general in the U.S. Army, in charge of thousands of nurses. I think about Eddie Bernice Johnson, the first nurse to win a national office, elected to serve the 30th Congressional District of Texas (1993). I think about Ernest Grant, the first black American Nurses Association (ANA) male president spearheading their Racial Reckoning. I think about living legend C. Alicia George, educator, practitioner, community activist, and the creator of the National Black Nurses Association’s (NBNA) annual Day on Capitol Hill. I think about Beverly Malone, ANA’s past president and chief executive officer of the National League for Nursing. They have truly paved the way for people like me to succeed. I stand on the backs of my ancestors, and I am committed to pulling up others as I climb.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

What I love about the new generation of nurses is their fearlessness and willingness to speak up and to advocate for themselves, their patients, and their profession. For them, that may often seem like a huge weight to bear, but they will be the ones who will push our profession forward. I want them to remember what it took to earn their title. Remember how they’ve triumphed, persevered, been resilient, and supported one another. Remember the challenges they’ve overcome and all that they’ve learned along the way. Remember to be as kind to themselves as they are to others. Remember to care for yourself because you can’t pour from an empty cup. Remember to give yourself grace and that learning is a life-long process. Remember always to do what’s right and prioritize accessible and equitable healthcare. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

Remember, not every path is a straight line. Our identity as nurses is shaped by our formal education and, more importantly, by the challenges, obstacles, difficulties, opportunities, and victories we’ve experienced. Continue to pay it forward. Be that preceptor, that mentor, that faculty member, that leader you had, or even wish you had. You never know who’s watching and who you’re helping to develop their identity as a nurse. In my circle, we have a saying: Show up, show off, and show out. So show up as your authentic self. Show off all you have accomplished because you never know who you are inspiring. Show them that you are outstanding, even when imposter syndrome is knocking at the door.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Fidelindo Lim

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Fidelindo Lim

Fidelindo Lim, DNP, CCRN, FAANa clinical associate professor at New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing, has worked as a critical care nurse for 18 years and concurrently, since 1996, has been a nursing faculty member.

In 2013, Dr. Lim conducted the seminal national study of faculty knowledge, experience, and readiness for teaching LGBTQ+ health in BSN programs across the U.S., and the groundbreaking findings of his research on LGBTQ+ health integration in nursing have been cited in six white papers and at least nine LGBTQ+ policy statements by leading stakeholders.

Dr. Lim has published over 200 articles on various topics, including clinical practice, nursing education, LGBTQ+ health, reflective practice, preceptorship, men in nursing, nursing humanities, and Florence Nightingale. He has been designated as a Nurse Influencer by the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) American Nurse Journal. Additionally, Dr. Lim is a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and New York University’s Aging Incubator and an NYU Meyers Alumni Association board member.

In 2021, Dr. Lim was one of four nurses featured in the ANA-sponsored documentary film “American Nurse Heroes,” a multi-channel network television event celebrating the Year of the Nurse.

He’s the faculty advisor to various nursing student groups at NYU Meyers, including the Asian Pacific-Islander Nursing Students Association, Men Entering Nursing, the LGBT Nursing Student Association, and also a founding member of NYC American Association for Men in Nursing, which represents the goals of men in nursing and advancing men’s health. Dr. Lim frequently brings male nursing students to local New York City schools—including an all-boys school—to provide health education, introduce students to nursing as a career path, and have them see male role models. Dr. Lim has fostered salience in nursing education through high-quality extracurricular programming and active learning and is an imitable mentor and coach to countless students and nurses.

Dr. Lim is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile him as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2023.

The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-fidelindo-lim

Meet Dr. Fidel Lim, DNP, CCRN, FAAN, a New York University Meyers College of Nursing clinical associate professor.

Talk about your role in nursing and how long you have worked in the nursing field.

I have been a nurse for 36 years—nineteen years as a staff nurse on the night shift in the critical care unit. I have been simultaneously teaching at New York University Meyers College of Nursing since 1996.

Why did you become a nurse? 

I got into nursing quite serendipitously. When I was 15 and a half years old, I was sent to Manila by my parents to get a college education. I didn’t know what career to take. I was going with the flow. My sister, who took me to the university to apply for college, was in her last trimester of pregnancy. In those days, college applications had to be done in person. She told me she couldn’t stand in line for long because of her swollen feet. So, I suggested that we go to the shortest line – which was the nursing program’s line.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

Inspiring others (subordinates, peers, colleagues, students) to achieve their level best is one of the true marks of a leader. It seems rare to find this attribute these days. We have plenty of managers and taskmasters but only some true leaders.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

I am proud to have mentored many students over the past two decades. Being a leader means modeling the behaviors you want others to manifest or emulate. A leader must be sincere and intentional in making authentic relationships, not fake camaraderie.

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

My first job out of nursing school was as a public health nurse for the Philippine National Red Cross. The bulk of my role was conducting health education training for local villagers. I was particularly amazed to discover that I was comfortable standing in front of an audience, having fun connecting with people, and enhancing their health literacy. This inspired me to pursue my master’s in nursing education at New York University. I was fortunate to be taught by leaders in nursing education and practice. I was like a sponge. I soaked up every bit of inspiration, wisdom, technical and relational skills, emulated my betters, and made these my own. When I graduated from NYU in 1996, I was offered a job as an adjunct faculty member, and in 2008, I transitioned to a clinical assistant professor. Currently, my title is Clinical Associate Professor.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

The nursing profession’s most significant challenge is keeping nurses at the bedside where they are most needed. The staff nurse turnover is very high. Bedside work has now become a short stop for many new grads on their way to a career as advanced practice nurses and nurse practitioners. There was a time when there were much fewer career choices for nurses. So, nurses stayed on their jobs much longer or held the same job until they retired. Nursing has become the most flexible and dynamic role; the work choices are endless. There is an internal brain drain within the profession.

As an educator, one of the most significant challenges for me is the burgeoning technology, the latest of which is ChatGPT. Appraising students’ learning is much more complicated nowadays if we rely too much on writing assignments. There is also a big disconnect between how we train nurses and the real-time demands of the job. The nursing school focuses on layering facts on the student’s already full plate but is very lean on providing clinical experiences with actual patients. Competency is more important than comprehension.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

Like any complex issue, the challenges in the nursing profession require collaborative solutions from various stakeholders. For example, hospitals should invest (financial and material) in enhancing the clinical experience of student nurses to transition them into the role. Providing opportunities for advancement within the institution is another solution.

As a nursing faculty, I am constantly reading and teaching myself how to hone my skills in teaching, managing large classes, crucial conversations with students, and mentoring others. I remind myself that nursing education should not only teach how to save lives but also how to live.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

I am an avid fan of Florence Nightingale. I have read her most famous book, Notes on Nursing, many times. Nightingale’s erudition and no-nonsense approach to the challenges she faced is what I try to emulate. Her stamina for hard work was a wonder. She was the first and true nurse influencer. She did not depend on how many “likes” she got; she wanted to do what was right for the patient.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

In nursing school, you get the lessons first and then get tested. In real life, you get the test first; then, you learn the lesson. In and out of nursing, you will discover many tedious things you will forget. But it is better to have learned and lost than never to have learned at all.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

Have a growth mindset and be patient. Nursing education is different from what it used to be. But then, again, what is?

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