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: 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?

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shada’ Medley

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shada’ Medley

Shada’ Medley joined the University of Maryland Medical Systems to be a change agent for innovative nursing care with a more diverse population.

Medley says her career path is part of God’s plan and cites Denzel Washington and Oprah Winfrey as a source of inspiration.

Shada’ Medley 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 Shada’ Medley, MSN RN, nurse manager in the Ambulatory Service Department. She manages the THRIVE program clinic, known as infectious disease, at the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus.

How long have you worked in the nursing field? 

I have been an RN for 20 years and a medical assistant for five years prior.

Please talk about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

I feel that it was in God’s plan. I started as a MA and had a 5-year plan to be a nurse (5 years is how long the MA/phlebotomy certification lasted). I met my goal. However, just as I was ready to enroll in nursing school, I realized that I could not afford my livelihood and attempted to withdraw. As I withdrew from the day program, CCBC initiated its first evening/ weekend program (God’s blessing). I enrolled in that program and completed it on time as scheduled within five years. My next goal was BSN, so I enrolled in the first nursing partnership cohort with Notre Dame. With the same partnership, CCBC recruited faculty from within the hospital where I was employed. I then duplicated the same situation for MSN.

At the MSN level, l concentrated on nursing education. I started healthcare in ambulatory care as MA. I entered a nursing role in critical care for 14 years. Then, I transitioned to outpatient ambulatory care as an interventional radiology nurse. While working towards my MSN, my current leader transitioned to a more corporate role and inquired how I felt about management. I never thought about management, just education. I am a product of teenage parents. I remember holding flash cards for my mom. I remember organizing my mom’s books. I remember when my mom told me about tutoring adults that couldn’t read and how important it was not to be judgmental. My manager had been teaching and guiding me to function in her absence, and I also attempted to do that with my team. I remember thinking, why would I allow someone new to take over a role I already know I can progress? So I applied for that position and was hired. I branched off to skilled nursing and went from manager to ADON within a year and DON within two years. After skilled nursing, I felt I needed to help patients never reach long-term care or intensive care units. I then returned to ambulatory care with a focus on the PCMH model. I came to UMMS to be a part of a larger organization that would allow me to flourish and be a change agent for innovative nursing care with a more diverse population.

Why did you become a nurse? 

I have always been able to put the needs of others before my own. I have always enjoyed the satisfaction of taking care of others. I became a nurse to help, care for others, and give back to society.

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

The essential attributes are empathy, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Even if it is not your belief, seeing someone’s point of view opens doors for communication, which is always good. Proper communication leads to innovation within the healthcare system.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and how are you making a difference?

Being a nursing leader means someone who inspires passion and motivation in others to believe in advancement and forward movement. A leader ensures their team has the support and tools to achieve their goals professionally and personally and to advocate for professional advancement.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

Access to diverse, equitable healthcare and the lack of available nursing educators.

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

Making short- and long-term goals include maximizing my education to obtain DNP and assuring work-life balance. Also, to actively and continually participate in the academia of licensed and unlicensed healthcare professionals. Also, by encouraging others to set goals for advancement in healthcare.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

I am inspired by all nursing leaders who can lead the profession with their hearts first by balancing equitable patient care and cost-effective care. The nursing leader who truly empathizes with the population’s needs. The nursing leader who supports diversity, equity, and inclusion as a framework in their leadership style. Most of all, I am inspired by the leader who understands they are only as good as their team.

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

Denzel Washington said, “Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.” Everything worth having is worth working for… sometimes our circumstances should be our motivation.

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

As Oprah powerfully stated, “No matter where you are on your journey, that’s exactly where you need to be. The next road is always ahead.” So be kind to yourself and know that you can do it!

Celebrating Black Nursing Leaders: Karen McNulty

Celebrating Black Nursing Leaders: Karen McNulty

Karen McNulty is a registered nurse at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center (BWMC) in Glen Burnie, Maryland.

With almost 23 years in the field of nursing, McNulty has been able to help other nurses, both novice and experienced, to evolve into their roles on the busy medical-surgical/telemetry unit, now transitioning to step-down.

She serves as a nurse preceptor and charge nurse and was awarded “Preceptor of the Year” by her facility in 2021.

McNulty is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as we celebrate Black History Month with the Black Nursing Leaders Series 2023.

In February, we’ll highlight healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.

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Meet Karen McNulty, a registered nurse at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center

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

I started my nursing career at Johns Hopkins Hospital and did agency work a few years later. I was able to experience a lot of different things while working on a variety of nursing units throughout the years, and I loved it. Then I found BWMC, and that changed a lot for me. I saw a close-knit community hospital with many friendly people I knew and didn’t know and the opportunity for a lot of growth. Before I knew it, my nurse manager asked me to precept recent grads and nurses new to the hospital. As for charge nurse, I initially kept turning down that role when asked because I was afraid and didn’t want to leave my comfort zone. Then one day, the charge nurse for that day called out sick, and I was the only one able to run charge. After some orientation and being assigned to more charge shifts, my fear subsided, and I began to love this role as much as I love precepting.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

Ever since I was little, I was always fascinated with the medical field. I would sit for hours reading and looking through pictures in my parents’ medical dictionaries. Then my Mom got sick and died from breast cancer when I was 15 years old, and I believe my passion for wanting to help people grew even stronger from that point on.

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

The most important attributes are effective communication, critical thinking, innovation, and respect. Listening to staff, understanding what’s going on, and deciding how to handle certain situations are very important for a nurse leader. You also need to be innovative. Many changes take place in healthcare, and nursing leaders must help their staff adapt effectively. This also promotes growth and empowers nurses with new ideas and skills. As for respect, everybody deserves to be treated equally, no matter what title you hold. Creating a climate of respect and appreciation is highly regarded in nursing and creates a much better and happier work environment.

What does it mean to you to be a nursing leader, and how are you making a difference?

Being a nursing leader means setting a good example for others to follow and helping others become great leaders. I’m making a difference by simply teaching what I already know, learning new things from others and acknowledging this, being accountable, and staying patient. When I get positive feedback from a team member about how I’ve helped them, it says a lot and means a lot to me.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

There are quite a few challenges, but a huge one is nurse retention. This has been an ongoing issue across the board, and we have experienced much of this in the unit I work on.  

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

As a nurse leader, I’m trying to overcome this challenge by showing nurses coming in and nurses already here that our hospital and medical system are exceptional and that we have to work as a team when changes are needed. Sure, there are multiple factors to consider when trying to keep nurses, and many do not have the solutions. Therefore, I share my personal experiences that I’ve had with this facility as well as the opportunities that are offered.

What nursing leader inspires you the most?

I’ve had multiple nurse leaders influence or inspire me in some way. However, the one that stands out the most to me is my nurse manager, Devika Kandhai. She’s been my manager for the majority of the time that I’ve been at BWMC, and she is an exemplar of a nurse leader. Her knowledge, leadership skills, dedication, and advocacy for our staff and patients are very high. She’s always had faith in me when I didn’t have confidence in myself to do certain things, such as taking on the charge nurse role. She’s encouraged me to go into leadership roles and take on responsibilities that promote my growth as a nurse leader, and I am incredibly grateful for that.

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

There will be many challenges you’ll face throughout your nursing career, both positive and negative. Set goals, lead by example, and be patient with yourself. Each nurse is unique and accomplishes different goals at different times throughout their career. Believe in yourself, and if you want to achieve something, never allow yourself or anyone else to tell you that you can’t.

Celebrating Black Nursing Leaders: Patricia Cummings

Celebrating Black Nursing Leaders: Patricia Cummings

Patricia Cummings, RN, is a clinical nurse manager at Howard University Hospital. She holds the distinction of inoculating Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband with their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Cummings has been a nurse for more than 15 years and is passionate about health promotion and education. She was born in Guyana and moved to the U.S. about 20 years ago.

She was inspired to become a nurse after hearing stories from her aunt, who worked in the field and graduated from Walden University’s PhD in Nursing Program.

Cummings is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as we celebrate Black History Month with the Black Nursing Leaders Series 2023.

In February, we’ll highlight healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.

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Meet Patricia Cummings, a clinical nurse manager at Howard University Hospital

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

I have never envisioned myself being a nurse leader. I wanted to be a nurse when I was 16 years old. I was privileged to live with a family member who was a registered nurse. She would come home and tell about their stories and her experiences. And I was very intrigued and always wanted to help people in whatever capacity, so she influenced me into the world of nursing. When I graduated from nursing school, I went through the typical bedside med surg nursing, and I did that for about eight years. And after I decided I wanted to try different areas. That’s one of the great things about nursing. It is very versatile and allows you to venture off into other areas. So I did some home care consulting for the first few years and case management for a few years. And then, the opportunity presented itself for me to acquire a nursing leadership position. And I was recommended by someone I knew who saw something in me and thought I would probably do well in nursing leadership. And so I started, and over the past five to six years, I’ve grown to love nursing leadership, which is my passion. And I can’t envision myself doing anything else.

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

Today’s nurse leader has to evolve in several ways, especially in light of the COVID pandemic. We’ve had to become creative and tweak some of how we lead. So the nurse leader of today has to be a great communicator. There are persons, whether it’s the staff we’re privileged to lead or the patients we care for, with issues and heightened anxiety just because of everything that’s happening. And so, a nurse leader must listen intently and respond appropriately, be empathetic, and be compassionate. Servant leadership, which I strive for, is one of the best leadership styles needed today. A servant leader who serves offers in whatever capacity to assist and make sure that the job gets done and is very humble has to have a high degree of humility. And that helps to earn your team’s trust and gain buy-in for them to do and see the vision and get it done. And a nurse leader also up to date needs to be innovative, conducting research and keeping up-to-date with current technologies, etc., things that will help make work more efficient. Those are the main attributes a nurse leader needs to have in today’s nursing world.

What does it mean to you to be a nursing leader, and how are you making a difference?

Nursing leadership means I get to influence others. I’ve been a nurse leader for about six years now. And when I was thinking about going back to school for my graduate degree, I did my research. And when I came upon Walden University and looked at their curriculum for the nurse executive leadership program, I was very impressed. And as I mentioned, my aunt is also an alumnus. So she influenced me as far as my choice, but just going back to school and having my degree and everything I received through my education has equipped me and allowed me to influence the people I am privileged to lead. 

One of my favorite authors, John C. Maxwell, is a leadership guru. Not just nursing leadership, he has a quote, “He who thinks he’s a leader and has no followers is simply taking a walk.” I love that quote because it says if you’re unable to influence others and have them follow your vision and see what you’re trying to establish or accomplish, you’re not fulfilling that purpose. As a nurse leader, I get to influence others. I get to have new nurses fresh out of nursing school come to me. I get to be a role model. I get to influence and contribute to their nursing career. And beyond the nurses, the patients who we get to touch. One of the things I love about my job as a nurse manager is that as much as I am in a leadership position, I still get to interact with my patients. So I am around daily with every patient on my unit to assess their satisfaction, etc. And so I love all of it. So influence is my biggest reward as a nurse leader.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

One of the most difficult challenges facing nursing today, nationally and globally, is the nursing shortage. There has always existed a nursing shortage to a degree. However, the COVID pandemic added to a more significant shortage. A lot of middle-aged and older nurses retired. But the bottom line is that there is a shortage of nurses, which has impacted organizations. Several hospitals around the country have closed down or have decreased their capacity because they cannot afford or not afford to do you’re not able to recruit nurses. And that impacts patient care. So the short has a ripple effect.

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

One of the things I tried to do is to keep up-to-date with other nurse leaders and get a sense of what we, as nurse leaders, are doing as a group. One of the things I learned while at Walden University is that, as a nurse leader, you have to keep up with research and what is trending because, very likely, whatever challenges you’re facing individually, it tends to be regionally, nationally, globally, so get intel on what other organizations are doing. 

So one of the things that are critical right now is effective recruitment. And that entails screening candidates and becoming creative in where we look for candidates. So I work very closely with my recruitment team. I check in with them every other day to ensure we’re utilizing every possible medium to recruit candidates. At Howard University Hospital, we have very robust nurse residency programs to recruit new grads and provide them with a very efficient experience where they can work alongside experienced nurses and the confidence and skills they need to function. At the end of the residency program, we’ve had a great success rate where most of these candidates are desirous of remaining and staying within the organization. I have encouraged many of my ancillary staff, like CNAs and patient care technicians, to return to school because they know that their team will be willing to help them succeed in their nursing journey. And just word of mouth, I have volunteered to go to various nursing schools, for example, Trinity Nursing and the University of the District of Columbia are some of the colleges were are affiliated with, and speak with nursing students about their career paths and the advocating for them to come to our institution. And as simple as it may seem, I am very involved with the community where I reside and advocating for or spreading the word about nursing. For example, I have two children. One is in high school. One is in middle school, and every career day I attend. I talk with students about nursing, why it is important that they pursue nursing, why we need nurses, and the importance of nurses, etc. And so those are some ways I got the word out about nursing and the fact that we need nurses and with recruitment.

How were you chosen to inoculate Vice President Harris with the COVID vaccine?

The universe allowed it to happen because of me. I couldn’t say that I had too much to do with it. I positioned myself because when the vaccines became available at the hospital where I worked, they allotted vaccines and opened up a clinic. The volume of people that came into our clinic differed from what we anticipated. They needed more nurses to administer the vaccine. As a nurse manager, I offered to assist for a few hours. And incidentally, on the first day that I volunteered, I had the opportunity to vaccinate our CEO, CMO, and the entire C-suite. Once they received word that Vice President Harris was interested in coming to that particular organization, they had confidence in my ability. Everything aligned itself, and I’m so grateful I was chosen.

What nursing leader inspires you the most?

My auntie. But presently, the person I have just been able to connect with and who I communicate with is Sandra Lindsay. She is the RN who is the person who received the very first COVID vaccine in the entire country. I had the pleasure and honor of meeting her a few short months ago, so I’ve connected with her. And I admire who she is as a leader. She’s a nurse and has her doctoral degree, but she exemplified servant leadership. So it’s best in its best form when she volunteered to be not a guinea pig but to be that person to be inoculated first in front of the entire country. And so beyond that, she is a nurse leader. She’s a director, and I just dialogued with her about some of her strategies, and I’m so impressed. She is a great mentor and model for me.

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

To nurses, you are needed. As a nurse and person, the world of nursing needs you. You can relate to a particular group of patients. Sometimes, I’ve had experiences where a patient’s preference for a nurse of the same race can relate to that. And so I would say to Black nurses, specifically, you are valuable where you’re needed. You make a difference. The pandemic showed that those patients who were in need, who were on good to where, you know, transitioning, just wanted a person to be there to hold their hand as they took their last breath when family members were unable to be present at the time. And nurses were the only ones at the bedside. Those patients did not have a preference for color or any other defining characteristic. They just wanted a nurse or a person to be there with them. And so I, again, you are needed. You’re valuable. We don’t have enough nurses in hospitals, and so I aspire to do and to be and to be committed to the profession of nursing. It is a noble rewarding profession. And it’s fulfilling. I encourage those who are nursing students to remain committed to nursing school is not easy. But the rewards, in the end, will be fulfilling. And that would be my message that they stay committed to the profession because you are necessary. I advise all nurses to ensure they are aware of themselves and engage in self-care. Because for us to administer care to others, we must be mindful of our needs. The pandemic taught us that we must regularly check our mental health.

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