Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Barbara Bosah

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Barbara Bosah

Barbara Bosah, MS, RN, PCCN, is a highly skilled nurse manager in the thoracic and surgical intermediate care unit and vascular progressive care unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), downtown campus in Baltimore, MD. meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-barbara-bosah

With over 14 years of experience leading care teams for patients with complex medical conditions, she is passionate nursing leader who fosters dynamic and supportive work environments that encourage continuous learning and professional growth.

Bosah has been recognized for leading several important nursing initiatives at UMMC that have positively impacted quality and patient experience. 

She is particularly proud of her role as a founding leader for the Academy of Clinical Essentials initiative. This revolutionary academic-practice partnership model has been implemented at the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and has resulted in intentional support for new graduate nurses as they prepare for and transition into clinical practice.

Bosah’s 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 making significant changes in the nursing field and are prominent figures in their organizations

Meet Barbara Bosah, MS, RN, PCCN, nurse manager in the thoracic and surgical intermediate care unit and vascular progressive care unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center. 

Talk about your role in nursing.

I am the Nurse Manager for the Surgical and Thoracic Intermediate Care & Vascular Surgery Progressive Care units. Our unit specializes in providing care for some of the sickest patients within the Maryland region. These patients are admitted to our unit after undergoing surgery. As a Nurse Manager, I lead our team of dedicated nurses. Our primary focus is to provide high-quality and patient-centric care. This involves ensuring that all staff members are well-trained and equipped to handle the complex needs of our patients.

Additionally, I oversee the allocation of staff and financial resources to ensure the effective operations of our unit. By carefully managing these resources, we can maintain a safe environment for our patients while delivering exceptional care. Our team is committed to staying up-to-date with the latest surgical and thoracic care advancements. We regularly participate in professional development activities and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to provide the best possible outcomes for our patients. My role as the Nurse Manager involves overseeing our unit’s day-to-day operations and creating an environment that promotes collaboration, excellence, and compassionate care. 

How long have you worked in the nursing field?

Nursing is my second career. Before pursuing nursing, I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing and a minor in International Business from the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY. Following my passion for healthcare, I furthered my education and earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY.

In 2005, I began my nursing career at UMMC as a new graduate nurse in the Surgical Intermediate Care Unit. Over the past 19 years, I have dedicated my professional life to serving patients at UMMC, gaining valuable experience, and honing my nursing skills. I take great pride in my journey from business administration to nursing and the diverse skillset it has provided me. Through my years of experience at UMMC, I have developed a deep understanding of the healthcare industry and a genuine passion for delivering high-quality care to those in need.

Why did you become a nurse?

I choose to pursue a career in nursing because I find fulfillment in assisting patients and their families during difficult times. I thrive in situations where the outcomes are unpredictable, and I can provide the necessary support and guidance. It is gratifying to ensure that their journey through the hospital is as seamless as possible, and I strive to treat each patient and their family with utmost respect and care. 

My approach involves delivering high-quality, empathetic, and compassionate services. Moreover, I believe in establishing a personal connection with them and valuing them as individuals rather than just patients. They become part of my extended family in my care, and I am committed to meeting their needs and advocating for their well-being.

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

I firmly believe that nursing leaders are crucial in addressing staffing challenges. They need key attributes to be effective. First, they must be transformational leaders who inspire and empower their staff. A clear vision is essential for navigating complex situations and guiding teams towards success. Accessibility promotes open communication and collaboration. Empathy fosters a supportive work environment. 

Lastly, a passion for mentoring and developing nurses is essential for continuous growth. By embodying these attributes, nursing leaders can lead their teams, inspire excellence, and drive growth.

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

I am honored to serve as a nurse leader, particularly as a minority nurse leader, at UMMC. I have the privilege of contributing to the future growth and development of new nurses entering the profession and mentoring experienced nurses to strive for advancement in their careers, whether as a clinical nurse, an Advanced Practice Provider, or a nurse leader. 

While I thoroughly enjoy working with patients and their families, I am incredibly proud of the exceptional team I work with on the Surgical & Thoracic IMC and Vascular Surgery PCU. Our team demonstrates remarkable resilience and delivers outstanding patient care while supporting one another. The collaboration and teamwork within our team are truly impressive, as we care for some of the most critically ill patients in the Maryland Region. I am inspired to come to work each day because of the unwavering dedication of this remarkable team, as each staff member contributes to the mission and vision of UMMC. I am incredibly proud and humbled to be their leader.

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

I started my career as a new graduate nurse in the Surgical Intermediate Care Unit. Initially, I was still determining what my career path would be. However, I approached each day with dedication and focused on providing the best possible care to my patients. Although I was unsure if there was room for growth as a nurse then, I was determined to make the most of my past experiences and leverage my background in business and marketing. I set goals and developed a vision for my career to ensure that I had a clear direction. One area that I had always been passionate about was quality and performance improvement. 

Fortunately, my nurse leader, Cindy Dove, MSN, RN, Director at UMMC, recognized my passion and took me under her wing. She became my mentor and played a crucial role in my leadership development. Thanks to her guidance and support, I was able to advance through the Professional Advancement Model (PAM) from Clinical Nurse I to Senior Clinical Nurse II, and I currently hold the position of Nurse Manager. 

This journey has spanned 19 years, during which I have continuously grown professionally and personally. Looking back, I am grateful for the opportunities to expand my horizons and make a difference in nursing. I am excited to see what the future holds and how I can continue contributing to nursing.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

One of the most critical issues currently confronting the nursing profession is the persistent problem of staffing constraints and burnout. This challenge has been further exacerbated after the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left nurses exhausted and overwhelmed. The shortage of qualified nursing staff has put immense pressure on healthcare systems, leading to increased workloads and reduced quality of patient care. The demanding nature of nursing work, coupled with the long hours and high stress levels, has dramatically increased burnout rates among nurses. This not only affects the well-being and job satisfaction of nurses but also directly impacts patient outcomes and overall healthcare system effectiveness.

Therefore, addressing staffing constraints and burnout is of utmost importance to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of nursing care in the present and future. Efforts should be made to implement strategies such as increasing the recruitment and retention of nurses, improving working conditions, and providing adequate support and resources to prevent burnout and promote the well-being of nurses. By addressing these challenges, we can create a more resilient and robust nursing workforce that can deliver high-quality care to patients and contribute to the overall improvement of healthcare systems.

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

As a nurse leader, overcoming the challenges in nursing has been quite difficult. It requires a lot of patience, as sometimes it may seem like no end in sight. However, it is important to remain hopeful and continuously review the current best practices to combat these constraints effectively.

One way to address these challenges is by actively listening to the concerns and needs of the bedside staff. We can create a more supportive and empowering work environment by advocating for their needs and ensuring that their voices are heard. Additionally, reviewing and implementing wellness programs specifically designed to support the staff is crucial. Encouraging participation from the entire team by forming task forces can help us successfully enact these changes.

Furthermore, it is essential to focus on the recruitment and retention of nurses. By actively promoting the profession and fostering a healthy work environment, we can attract and retain talented individuals passionate about providing high-quality care. This can ultimately contribute to our nursing practice’s overall success and improvement.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” resonates with me as I reflect on my journey from being a new graduate nurse 19 years ago at UMMC. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have the support and guidance of numerous UMMC leaders who have inspired me. Being a nurse goes beyond the technical aspects of the job; it involves working with phenomenal stakeholders and partners across various departments such as Rehab (Physical Therapy & Respiratory), Case Management, Hospital Operations, and Pastoral Care. However, I must highlight the significant impact that the Surgery and Neuroscience division’s nurse managers, Cindy Dove and Ruth Lee (VP of Patient Care Services), have had on me. Their leadership and dedication have been a constant source of inspiration, and I consider them part of my extended family within the hospital.

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

As a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., the quote by our dynamic Soror Nikki Giovanni resonates with me, and I hope it will inspire you!

“A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” – Nikki Giovanni

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

I am incredibly grateful and deeply honored to have this fantastic opportunity to share my journey with you. It fills my heart with immense joy to connect with you and inspire you. I want to emphasize the importance of staying true to yourself and embracing self-love. Remember, you can shape your destiny and create the life you desire. Cherish every moment of your journey, and let your inner light guide you towards greatness.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Kimberly Williams

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Kimberly Williams

Kimberly M. Williams, DNP, MSN, RN, NE-BC, has dedicated her career to serving patients at every level. She started in health care as a front desk clerk and worked up to her current position as the Director of Nursing Operations at the Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health.meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-kimberly-williams

Williams is an important nursing leader, and we are honored to feature her in the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2024. This series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making significant changes in the nursing field.

Meet Kimberly Williams, DNP, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Director of Nursing Operations at The Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Diseases at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health.

Talk about your role in nursing.

I am the director of nursing operations at The Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Diseases at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. As the director of nursing operations at a world-class pediatric hospital, I hold a multifaceted role encompassing numerous responsibilities. My role extends beyond the provision of patient care and involves strategic decision-making and ensuring the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the Center’s nursing operations. To do so effectively, I partner with over 180 nurses throughout the Bass Childhood Cancer Center’s various departments, including hematology, oncology, stem cell transplant, and the Center for Definitive and Curative Medicine. We deliver compassionate, high-quality care to our young patients and their families.

As the chair of the Patients and Families Committee on the house-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, I actively address health disparities, advocate for culturally sensitive care, and promote diversity, equity, and inclusivity within the healthcare system. I also mentor aspiring nurses, guiding and empowering them to pursue their dreams and overcome obstacles.

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

My path progressed with a series of fits and starts. As a parent, I had to juggle motherhood, a full-time job, and my academics, so it took me roughly six years to obtain my BSN. Upon graduating from Texas Christian University in 2001, I settled into my first nursing role at Cook Children’s Healthcare System on the medical/surgical floor. Still, I always had my eyes on becoming a PICU nurse. After a year there, I transferred to the PACU to get some experience in intubation and sedation. I then transferred to the PICU, where I worked as a nurse and a charge nurse. There, I got the desire to return to school and obtain my master’s. I completed my MSN in 2010 from the University of Phoenix. Afterward, I accepted a job as a nurse manager, where I spent eight years before taking a leap of faith and accepting a position at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health as a patient care manager for The Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Diseases. I worked in that role for about two years before taking the interim role of director of nursing operations. I have now been in that role for a little over three years.

It’s been a long journey, beginning as a Black, economically disadvantaged girl from a small town outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Growing up, I faced numerous challenges that could have hindered my progress. However, I was fueled by a burning desire to make a difference, overcome limitations, and pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. I rose above my circumstances to succeed in nursing, and my experience culminated in a leadership position at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, serving as a testament to determination, resilience, and the power of education.

How long have you worked in the nursing field? Why did you become a nurse?

Sometimes, others can see something within us that we may not recognize.

I have been in nursing for almost 25 years and came into this field by happenstance. I was a single mother of three rambunctious boys at the time, working as a clerk in a children’s hospital. One of the physicians I worked with recognized that I had the qualities and potential to excel as a nurse. She would often tell me I should consider going to nursing school. For over a year, she kept encouraging me and was determined to get me to take one class. I finally agreed. I will never forget the first class I took, Psychology 101. I received an ‘A’ in that course. All I needed to confirm that I could do anything I put my mind to. I owe a lot of gratitude to that doctor. Her encouragement motivated me to pursue a new path and passion, creating a better future for myself and my family. Looking back, I feel that my journey is a true testament to the transformative power of mentorship.

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

I want to be intentional in answering this question from the lens of a Black nurse and DE&I advocate. I feel the most essential attributes of today’s nursing leaders include cultural competency, advocacy, mentorship, and community engagement.

To truly provide equitable, compassionate care, we must recognize and respect the unique cultural dynamics and challenges faced by the diverse communities we serve. As leaders, we must be attuned to these nuances through cultural learning, which equips us to deliver holistic care, meeting each patient’s and their family’s psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and individual needs.

Advocacy is a crucial attribute for leaders in the nursing profession today. We can promote patient rights, ensure patient safety, empower patients with the needed information to make informed decisions, and more through advocacy.

As I mentioned before, mentorship has the power to change lives. When I came into the field, few Black nurses were in any leadership roles. I was often the only Black leader in more rooms than I’d like to remember. And this was the catalyst for my commitment to promoting and supporting up-and-coming nurses and diversity within the profession.

The last attribute I’d like to touch on is the importance of community engagement. People don’t know what they don’t know. As the eyes and ears of some of our most vulnerable populations, we must embed ourselves within our communities to promote community health initiatives, provide educational resources, and collaborate with community leaders to address health disparities and promote health equity.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

One of the most significant challenges facing nurses today is the persistent disparities and inequities in healthcare access and outcomes among marginalized populations. One key challenge is the need for more diversity within the nursing profession. While progress has been made, nursing continues to struggle with achieving a workforce that reflects the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity of our communities. A homogenous nursing workforce can limit patients’ ability to connect with and receive culturally sensitive care from healthcare providers who understand their unique needs and backgrounds.

Additionally, biases and discrimination persist within the healthcare system, impeding equitable care delivery. Implicit biases can influence decision-making, communication, and patient interaction, leading to disparities in treatment and outcomes. Moreover, the challenge of healthcare access persists for marginalized populations, including racial and ethnic minority groups, low-income individuals, LGBTQ+ communities, and those with limited English proficiency. These populations face significant barriers, including lack of health insurance, geographic disparities, and social determinants of health, contributing to healthcare inequity.

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

As a Black nurse leader, I strive to create inclusive and welcoming healthcare environments.

While often difficult to navigate, we can overcome many challenges by advocating for policies and practices that address these systematic barriers.

Nurses can foster culturally sensitive, competent care by actively listening to patients’ concerns, promoting patient autonomy, and respecting patients’ values and beliefs. As mentioned earlier, I am chair of the Patients and Families Committee on the house-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. In this role, I advocate for inclusive policies and practices that value and support diversity, prevent discrimination, and cultivate an inclusive workplace that celebrates different perspectives and ensures equitable opportunities for professional growth. Through organizational partnerships, Stanford Children’s is addressing some of these challenges by developing nursing-focused education programs that emphasize DE&I as fundamental components of the curriculum. This ensures that our workforce, especially nurses, are clinically skilled and culturally educated. Ongoing diversity training, mentorships, and continued education opportunities can promote nurses’ understanding of diverse patient populations and foster inclusive practices.

Despite the numerous obstacles within our profession, I am confident that with continued education and systemic support, nurses can play a vital role in advancing health equity and reducing disparities in healthcare.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

There are so many who inspire me. When I look at the history of Black nurse leaders, the first person that comes to mind is the remarkable contributions of Mary Eliza Mahoney. Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926) was the first African American registered nurse in the United States. Mahoney’s resilience and dedication to overcoming significant adversity in pursuit of her nursing career during a time of racial discrimination and inequality had a lasting impact on nursing and continue to inspire nurses of all backgrounds to this day.

However, the nurse leader who inspires me the most is my sister-in-law, Dr. Shakyryn Napier, DHS, RN, CPN, NEA-BC, LSSYB, and the Director of the Heart Center at Cook Children’s Healthcare System. Dr. Napier is one of the few Black nurse leaders I’ve enjoyed working alongside for most of my career. She possesses exceptional humility, demonstrating intense sincerity in her interactions with others. What sets her apart is her unwavering commitment to professional and personal mentorship. She invested her time and energy into me and was one of a few Black nurse leaders who recognized my potential, even when I doubted it myself. She believed in me and played an integral role in my leadership development.

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

I want to share a personal experience reaffirming that I am truly walking in my purpose.

Four months ago, my father was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that metastasized to his bones and spine. About a month after his diagnosis, my 35-year-old son underwent an above-the-knee leg amputation. The experience of sitting on the other side of healthcare as a daughter and a mother has profoundly touched me and deepened my understanding of humility, compassion, mercy, and grace. As I provide support to my father and son during these difficult times, I am witnessing firsthand the physical, emotional, and psychological toll that illness and disability can have on families. This experience has enabled me to approach my role as a nurse leader with an even greater depth of compassion and understanding. Humility is a crucial quality in healthcare, as it allows us to recognize our limitations and biases while respecting the diverse perspectives and needs of those we care for. My experience has humbled me, reminding me of life’s vulnerability and fragility. Through my experience, I hope to provide a comforting presence, lend support, and cultivate stronger connections with patients and families navigating their difficult journeys.

Lastly, I’d like to emphasize the importance of self-care. Please seek support when needed, as our careers and personal lives can also affect our well-being. When prioritizing well-being, we can provide better compassionate care and leadership to those who need it.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Elodia Mercier

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Elodia Mercier

For almost 40 years as the Director of Nursing for Throughput Operations at Montefiore Health System in New York, Elodia Mercier, RNC, MS, has been advancing patient care and creating and defining new roles for fellow nurses and other providers.

In June 2021, Montefiore was evaluating performance improvement initiatives to enhance patient experiences and alleviate flow challenges and decided to open a discharge lounge. The idea of a discharge lounge isn’t new, but being assisted by the clinician with whom patients just bonded is.meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-elodia-mercier

Mercier was chosen to open the discharge lounge and met the challenges of a crowded emergency department (Montefiore is amongst the busiest in the country) and limited beds for admissions. Under Mercier’s supervision, the lounge, intended to assist 10 patients daily, quickly increased to 30-40. Over 27 months, Montefiore’s Discharge Lounge received more than 678 patients per month. On average, patients stay for approximately 35 minutes. This time spent in the lounge has equated to more than 10,800-bed hours saved, the equivalent of 62 additional beds – a total game-changer, particularly for an urban hospital. Mercier showcased this success at the New York Organization for Nursing Leadership last September.

In addition to the discharge lounge, Mercier developed Montefiore’s SHHH (Silent Hospitals Help Healing) program and other vital initiatives. She is also an active participant in the College of Mount Saint Vincent’s mentorship program, which pairs successful alums/trustees and friends of the college with bright, dedicated students eager to gain skills and insight that will allow them to channel their passion and talents into successful, satisfying careers.

As a recipient of a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) award for her participation in community affairs in 2011, Mercier 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 Elodia Mercier, RNC, MS, Director of Nursing for Throughput Operations at Montefiore Health System in New York.

Talk about your role in nursing.

As a nurse of nearly 40 years at Montefiore Health System, I’m always focused on the people we serve regarding safety, getting well and their patient experience. My role as Director of Nursing for Throughput Operations combines these three aspects, specifically focusing on the discharge process and ensuring this takes place in a calm and comfortable environment.

Our Henry and Lucy Moses Hospital Discharge Lounge is the last impression patients have when leaving our hospital, and we want it to be a good one. I’m focused on this positive experience and memory for patients and their families, ensuring all needs are met and leaving them as fully satisfied customers.

How long have you worked in nursing?

July 23, 1984, to present. I started as a part-time nursing attendant at Montefiore while attending the College of Mount Saint Vincent from 1980-1984.

Why did you become a nurse? 

I became a nurse because I like helping people. Also, when my great-grandmother was ill in this very hospital, I did not understand what was happening to her. This memory stayed with me, and in my mind, I knew I wanted to make a difference for patients and their families, helping them better understand what is happening in terms of care and being able to teach and help heal. Last but not least, I was the first in my extended family to attend and graduate college. This was important to me, coming from a Caribbean /Afro-American Hispanic background.

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

Being a transformational leader. This means keying into the emotional intelligence of the people you lead. It also means finding a way to help people best understand their roles and values and the importance these factors play in helping our patients. Each person learns and processes things differently. A good or transformational leader finds ways to help each person on the team understand how they process information and produce the best outcome. I believe in leading by example and rewarding staff, even if it’s a simple acknowledgment or a thank you birthday card sent to them at home outlining their contributions throughout the year as a nurse on the unit. I have always believed that happy staff leads to happy patients and great outcomes. A good leader listens and values their team.

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

Being a nursing leader to me means supporting my teams by way of education, accountability, and pride. I am proud of a few things, so it is a challenge to name just one.

-I am proud of having the highest consecutive year-after-year Press Ganey scores on my units as a nurse manager.

-I am proud of having the highest 365 degree and staff satisfaction surveys.

-I am proud of the creation of the Silent Hospital Help Healing Program that I initiated at Montefiore for noise reduction.

-I am proud that I established the motto now commonly used around the campus, “Happy Monday” or “Happy Friday.” I intended to help nurses and anyone else focus on the good things in life and all the good things they may have accomplished and still hope to achieve.

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

I started as a staff RN in 1984 in the Neurology unit of Montefiore and then moved to the Rehabilitation units for long-term care. I was then promoted to become a Patient Care Coordinator and then a Nurse Manager in the Department of Medicine. After consecutive years of consistently meeting high Press Ganey (patient. satisfaction scores), it led me to the next step of my career, which was being promoted to director of nursing.

Then, in 2021, Peter Semczuk, SVP and executive director of the Moses and Wakefield Campuses in the Bronx invited me to become the Director of Nursing for Throughput Operations and help open our discharge lounge. My focus now is on healing our patients and working with our nurses and other staff to focus on barriers that might hinder their safe discharge or could unnecessarily increase the length of stay in the hospital.

Data is the driving force of the discharge lounge. Our data helps empower our nurses to think of discharging from day one – from decanting the emergency department to getting patients home safely. Sample data include the average length of stay in terms of bed saved hours per unit and when patients are discharged to the lounge. Our data reflects how each unit contributes to the end goal. When the lounge opened, the intent was to assist 10 patients per day, but that number quickly increased to 30-40. Approximately one-third of adults leaving our Moses Campus and emergency department are cared for in the discharge lounge today. We’ve also saved approximately 11,000+ bed hours, equivalent to more than 62 additional beds – a game-changer for a busy, urban hospital. Currently, my colleagues and I use data to help specific units achieve target measures for throughput. Nursing is so diverse and has so many opportunities. I enjoy focusing on throughput as this position focuses on relationship-centered care.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

As a result of COVID, many new nurses missed out on opportunities to experience more clinical rotations when in school. When they arrive in the workforce, they depend on strong leaders and strong support to help guide them. Also, many senior nurses are leaving the workforce and preparing for retirement. This creates a more significant gap in mentoring and preceptorship by the senior nurses for the newer nurses. This is why it is imperative to have strong, supportive leadership.

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

Along with many of my colleagues and the outstanding nursing leaders at Montefiore, efforts are being made to help teach, engage, and provide more supportive and educational opportunities to meet the needs of both new and current staff. This month, for example, I conducted a Joint Commission mock survey prep for our radiology department. For many, it will be their first time participating in a Joint Commission survey, so I took the nurses on a walking tour of our radiology department instead of a formal class. We reviewed where some of the equipment, like the oxygen valves, were, and we reviewed the power of non-verbal communication, like body language. The message was that if a surveyor asks a question, then everyone should come to the support of one of our nurses. This sends a message of confidence.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

Joanne Duffy, an adjunct professor at Indiana University because she focuses on the quality caring model and relationship-centered care. She believes in taking affirmative action to serve problems rather than identify and report them. I can very much relate to this.

Maureen Scanlan, our SVP and Chief Nurse Executive, is inspiring at Montefiore. Maureen exemplifies nursing theory and practice goals, has a calm demeanor, and is always gracious, supportive, and professional. As I have transitioned to various nursing roles, she has always been there to advise me and ensure I am kept abreast of all nursing-related topics within Montefiore.

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

Help, support, and never be afraid to try new things because success is derived from trying and learning – you never know unless you try.

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

I have loved being a nurse at Montefiore. I have worked hard here, and Montefiore has been excellent and supportive of me. If you want to see and experience a family, community, and well-organized hospital, visit – I will have a hot cup of coffee or tea waiting.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Suzette Porter

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Suzette Porter

Suzette Porter, MBA, BSN, RN, is an elder care nurse manager and adjunct faculty member who has been with Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) for over 25 years.meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-suzette-porter

Porter says she got into healthcare because her great-grandmother raised her and was the Florence Nightingale in their small town in Jamaica. She would take Porter to help the sick, elderly, and needy in their hometown.

Now, as a nurse manager at HUMC, Porter’s great-grandmother’s influence is at work caring for elder care patients and as an adjunct clinical instructor for Muhlenberg Nursing School, part of JFK University Medical Center in Plainfield, N.J.

Through Porter’s leadership as a nurse manager, her unit was awarded the Team Daisy Award in 2021 for teamwork. She’s an American Organization for Nursing Leadership member and an alumna of the University of Arizona School of Business Global campus.

Porter is genuinely beloved by her colleagues and patients and is a proven leader who knows the importance of teamwork.

Suzette Porter 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 Suzette Porter, MBA, BSN, RN, an elder care nurse manager at Hackensack University Medical Center, and an adjunct instructor for JFK Muhlenberg Nursing School.

What is your title, and where do you work? 

I am a Hackensack University Medical Center’s Med-Surg Elder Care nurse manager.

Do you have a Side Gig?

Yes. When I saw that, I smiled because I took on an adjunct instructor for JFK Muhlenberg Nursing School last semester, so this is my second-semester teaching first-year nursing students. They’re first clinical.

What do you love about your role as an adjunct instructor?

It’s so important to give back. So important. I remember taking my first day, first clinical day, and every time they came in, like last semester, they reminded me of their first impression of me. I just made them feel at ease because I was so nervous and overwhelmed, and I didn’t have that person to say, you know what? It’s okay. Put your bags away. Let’s take a breather. It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be a great semester. So that’s what I’ve been doing. So, this semester that ended in December, they sent me texts and emails. They’re like, “Professor, I remember what you said on the first day.”

Tell us about your role in nursing and how long you’ve been at HUMC?

So this is my 10th year. I worked in the institution since 1998 in guest services before returning to nursing school. (Been at HUMC for a total of 26 years)

I have always believed in mentorship, and I have always sought mentors. I had a mentor in nursing school, and when I got into nursing, I knew Raminita from when I was in guest services because she used to walk by. She was a nurse manager on Pavilion, one of the Pavilion floors. And she always walked by and said good morning. Then, one day, when I was on, it was 4 Link, which is where I’m at right now. I was in the hallway waiting to start my clinical rotation, and she saw me and said, “I didn’t know you were in nursing school.”

I said, “Yes.” Because I didn’t tell too many people, and she said, “You know what? When you’re done, just let me know.” And that’s what I did. So I got that position in 5PE, and she always asked, “What are your plans?” Because in guest services, I was a supervisor, so I had a leadership background, and I told her, I said, “You know what? I want to get back into it, but I know I need to get a master’s degree, further my education.” So, at the time, the hospital had, I think we still do because that’s where I graduated from in 2021, Ashford, where you’ll go to school to further your education. I obtained a master’s degree. They changed from Ashford to the University of Arizona. I started in 2019 and graduated in 2021 with my MBA.

So from there, from 5 PE, I went over to 4 St. John in 2017 as a supervisor, which is, in essence, an assistant manager to the nurse manager there. Then COVID hit in 2020, and my manager decided she would retire. Then, I just went right into the role of nurse manager. So on 4 St. John, we moved from 4 St. John last April to 4 Link North and South. So it was one unit with 41 patients, and now we are split in two. So now we are 24 and 24 or 48 patients on 4 Link North and South. So I managed both units with three of my nurses who became assistant nurse managers because they saw me, always asked what it’s like to be a manager, and wanted to do what I do. So, I mentored them. These assistant nurse managers are just so efficient because they were on the floor with me at 4 St. John, and now they’re assistant managers here with me.

Why did you become a nurse?

It’s always been a dream of mine. My great-grandmother raised me, and I called her the Florence Nightingale of our town in Jamaica because she would take me and visit her older family members. Sometimes, when she would visit them, they would be in deplorable condition, and she just took this on as nothing and just took care of them and cleaned them up. And that inspired me to be a nurse when I was younger. I always wanted to be a nurse, but when I migrated here, my mom and dad had a lot of responsibilities, and I just decided that you know what? I’m going to get a job. And I got a job. But nursing was always in the back of my head. And after I had all of my kids, I said, okay, it’s time for me to go back to school. And I went back to school.

How old were you when you went back to nursing school?

I went back to nursing school when I was 31, when I had my last son. I have 3 boys, and I’ve been married for almost 27 years.

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

Mentorship. I think we have to mentor nurses because when you think about nursing, the future of nursing, and how much this has changed over the years, we have to mentor new nurses because we want to keep some of the core values of nursing that we practiced over the years. We want to ensure that it continues. Mentorship is one for me. Ensure you have a succession plan, especially in my leadership role. I feel so gratified if I’m out on vacation. Last year, unfortunately, I had to be out on disability for a little bit because I had surgery. And to see how my two nurses took charge of the unit and ran it in my absence.

So when I came back, my leader, Dena Egbert, nursing director, told me how great they did. I think that’s very, very important, having succession planning. You have to develop your nurses; develop them. Right now, we have a lot of new grads on our floor and are partnering with our educators or med-surg specialists on the unit to ensure that we’re developing them into nurses. It’s very important to me.

Communications skills. Communicate effectively, making sure that everything that needs to be said is said and how we say it, and how respectful we have to be respectful to each other while we’re communicating.

How did you ascend to this latest role as nurse manager?

In this role as a nurse manager, when my nurse manager at 4 St. John decided to retire, she always talked to me about succession planning, and she would always pull me into things like leadership things that sometimes I feel uncomfortable. I wasn’t confident in it. And she always said, “What happens if I was supposed to be out of here for a little bit or on disability or if I decide to leave?” And she’s like, “You need to know these things. You need to know these things.” So, by the time she decided to retire, I was comfortable and confident enough to say, I can do this. I like working with people, working. I love working with patients. Geriatric is my love. Like I said, my great-grandparents raised me, so geriatric is my first love. So, none of this is a coincidence.

What is the most significant challenge facing nurses or the nursing field today?

The significant challenge we’re having right now, for me, I can talk about because I was just on the floor with the nurses. We had workplace violence in the unit. I noticed an uptick with it because we are working closely with Ramonita and our director, Dena. We have a workplace violence team that comes to the unit to help the staff de-escalate issues and protect themselves in case that happens. That’s one of the challenges we face here in the unit. And I’ve heard of other units, too, but I can only speak for myself. There’s also the situation with exposure. Since COVID, there are many different things that our nurses are exposed to safety-wise, such as viral bacteria.

So those are some of the challenges that we’re facing. But we always have someone to support us. Infection prevention also comes on the unit to help with the new team members, how to protect themselves when going in and out of patient’s rooms, and what to do. So yeah, those are some of the things. And physical demands. Physical demands. I think a lot of our patients they’re heavy. There’s a lot of stuff going on with them. There are a lot of issues. I always encourage my team to practice safely. When rolling in a patient, you’re moving a patient; you’re helping a patient in a bathroom to protect themselves because they’re out often because they got hurt or they have injuries.

As a nursing leader, what do you do to help overcome these challenges?

So what I do with my team is I huddle with them. I huddle with my staff in the morning at the beginning of a shift. Remind them of the important things. Our quality metrics are critical, but at the end of the day, they also need to go home to their family. So I always tell them to practice safe or work smart, not work hard. Work smart. Working smart, I always encourage them to do it. If other issues are going on in the unit, I always partner with med, or I partner with security for safety. I’ll partner with workplace violence to come in and do regular in-services.

Whatever affects us, I always find someone to partner with as my leader. Right now, we have executive sponsors on the floor. I don’t know if you’ve heard about where our executive leaders like Dr. Tank, Jason Kreitner, and Ramonita will adopt the unit, and they will round on the unit on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to improve patients’ experience. So, with that said, if anything is going on in the unit, the team or I can bring it up to them, and they will support us and help us with whatever issues we’re dealing with.

What nursing leader inspires you and why? 

I have a few nurse leaders over the years who have inspired me, but now, Dena Egbert, my director, because I like her leadership style with us as leaders reporting to her and Ramonita Jimenez, CNO. Here’s why I chose both of them. Dena, I appreciate it when leaders give you that autonomy to practice because she always encourages us to lead, and if there’s anything that she can support, we should go to her, and she stays firm with that. It’s always there. If I need anything from Dena, I can go over and knock on her door, and she’s available, or I can text her or, email or call her. She’s always available. I always see Ramonita as that leader who develops you. And I like leaders who, if they see an untapped talent in a nurse, I always go to them and say, “I see you. You like to do this. Let’s talk about ways that you can grow that or develop that.” Ramonita is like that.

And that’s what I like about Ramonita. Over the years, when she used to see me on 5PE, now in a different role as a bedside RN, she knows me from downstairs, a supervisor in guest services. But now, as a role, she asked me, “What do you plan on doing later in your career?” And I said to her, “I think I probably just want to stay in leadership, but I want to see how it is first.” And she did stay on top of me with that. She did stay on top of me with that over the years.

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

I look back at myself and always say this to new nurses. Even the new batch that I had. I have four at night, and I have four new nurses during the day shift. I always tell them to approach every patient as their family, as someone you know. I said it would take some of the anxieties because they often have anxieties, especially the newer nurses. Approach your patients as if they are family, and also practice humility. Humility is a virtue that many people do not have but practice. Practice humility because when you do that, you can sit there or stand there and talk to your patient, and it’s just like you’re having a conversation with anyone. Also, listen. We have to listen to our patients because we often miss stuff if we don’t listen to our patients.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shauna Johnson

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shauna Johnson

Shauna Johnson is a registered nurse at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center (LHAAMC) in Annapolis, Maryland, and exemplifies the meaning of resilience.

She worked as a tech for LHAAMC more than ten years ago, but then life got in the way. After her mom died of breast cancer, she had to take care of her two brothers (who were 7 and 13 at the time). Eventually, Johnson went to nursing school and got her degree in May 2022. During her last semester, she gave birth and got COVID. At nursing school, Johnson fell in love with working with geriatric patients; now, she works in Luminis Health’s Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit.

Someone at school believed in Johnson so much that they privately funded her education.

She credits Christine Frost, the chief nursing officer at Luminis Health, for being a significant influence in her life. When Johnson first worked at LHAAMC 11 years ago, Frost was her supervisor, providing Johnson with guidance and mentorship.

Shauna Johnson is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her 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.

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Meet Shauna Johnson, a Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center (LHAAMC) registered nurse.

Talk about your role in nursing.

As a registered nurse at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center, I provide optimal care to patients and the community. I love advocating for patients and helping them feel comfortable with their care. As a nurse, I am responsible for assessing, observing, and communicating well with patients. I collaborate with a team of medical professionals to ensure every patient receives the care they deserve.

How long have you worked in the nursing field?

I have worked in the nursing field for 15 years. I started as a patient care technician for 14 years and then earned my BSN and RN.

Why did you become a nurse? 

My inspiration to become a nurse started with a nurse who cared for my mom during her last hours of life. It was such a difficult time in my life that I can’t remember much except for this nurse who had so much compassion, love, and dedication. It showed in everything that he did. When I was only 19, I knew I wanted to be the same for others. I made it my mission to be a great nurse to patients, families, and the community.

What sparked your love for working with geriatric patients?

My love for geriatric patients came from my first job in the nursing field as a geriatric nursing assistant. From then on, I respected geriatric patients more and more. Geriatric patients demonstrate incredible strength on a daily basis. Despite a complex medical history, they never give up. Their will and determination to thrive in life are inspiring, and as a nurse, I want to assist in making life worth every moment.

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

Flexibility, love, passion, dedication, and resilience.

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

It means being a role model to other nurses and the community, even when off-duty. Despite my challenges, I am proud that I pushed through and achieved my goal of becoming a nurse. I demonstrate my passion for nursing every single day.

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

My first year in nursing was as a nursing assistant in a rehabilitation facility. After that, I worked as a patient care technician (PCT) in the Medical Surgical Unit for ten years. Then, I shifted from working with just adults to the Mother/Baby unit as a PCT, where I remained throughout nursing school. After graduating with my BSN, I wanted to work with adults again, specifically geriatric patients. I never gave up and never wanted to be a PCT forever. I kept pushing myself to grow and achieve my goals.

I chose to work at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center (LHAAMC) because it is home. Everyone is supportive, loving and caring. The care that Luminis Health provides to the community is outstanding, and this team of caregivers truly exemplifies our mission of enhancing the health of the people and communities we serve.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

The most significant challenge in nursing today is maintaining a healthy work environment. Focusing on mental health and preventing nurse burnout is essential. Our country experienced a historic pandemic, and healthcare workers are still experiencing the residual effects of COVID and how it impacted nursing care. As nurses, we must take care of ourselves to ensure that we can provide optimal care to others.

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

Mindfulness is key! That means being mindful, recognizing the importance of self-care, and creating a work environment where others can open up about hardships and mental health issues.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

My former Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Christine Frost, was my supervisor for seven years and a source of inspiration for 14 years. I watched her ascend to her new role as CNO at LHAAMC and remain passionate about nursing and its core values.

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Shauna Johnson with the nursing leader that inspires her the most – Christine Frost, the chief nursing officer at Luminis Health

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

The next generation of nurses should focus on showing passion and empathy rather than mastering every skill. Creating a safe environment for patients to open up and communicate with you about their health gives you so much knowledge on helping to develop the best treatment plan. Listen and assess!

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

Nursing is not just a career but a lifestyle. I am constantly thinking and performing as a nurse. There are many avenues in nursing and plenty of room for everyone with a heart. Nursing ROCKS!

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