Celebrating Nurses Week

4 Million Nurses Lighting Paths to
Healthcare Transformation

Stephan DavisBy Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, CNE, FACHE

Nearly twelve years ago, I sat for the National Council Licensure Examination and officially became a registered nurse on June 21, which is the summer solstice. As you are likely aware, the June solstice is the first day of summer, when the sun reaches its highest point and, therefore, we enjoy the longest day of the year. As a lover of summer and sunshine, I am always excited for the beginning of my favorite season, but this solstice was extremely special for me as I entered the most trusted profession in America. As I reflect on this day, I believe that it is so fitting that I became a nurse on the summer solstice as it represents the infinite light the nursing profession has brought to my life. 

Over the past decade, I have had the opportunity to work in unique and diverse roles in healthcare leadership and education. Throughout this journey, I have encountered some of the most extraordinary nurses who have inspired, guided and supported me. As I reflect on nurses I have witnessed advancing professional practice and clinical care delivery, I recall my first chief nursing officer, Dr. Lisa Rowen, who translated her vision of transforming care delivery at the University of Maryland Medical Center and achieving Magnet designation into reality. I think of a team of nurse scientists I worked with as a graduate assistant at Georgetown who developed a capacity building intervention to increase the skills of nurses in Africa who were providing autonomous care within countries most devastated by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I think of Jill Case-Wirth, the chief nurse executive for WellStar Health System, who has led the organization to create innovative care models that include clinical nurse leaders and clinical nurse specialists at a time when many health systems either do not utilize or underutilize these important roles. I also think of Laurie Fugitt, a nurse who successfully advocated for a law to be passed in Georgia so that naloxone could be administered in the community without a provider prescription in order to prevent overdose. These are just a few examples of nurse colleagues who have inspired me through their unrelenting desire to advance health and professional nursing practice. 

When I reflect on nurses who are contributing to healthcare transformation in the realm of entrepreneurship and innovation as well as regional and national leadership, I think of Joe Novello, the founder of NurseGrid, a mobile application that is changing how nurses in direct care roles communicate with each other and their unit leaders. I think of Dr. Michelle Nelson, president of two Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) associations, who had the vision to start a movement to unify nurses in all areas of practice. Last year, she led the development of the inaugural Unity Conference for Nursing Excellence, which featured clinicians, legislators, educators, scholars and executives across the state of Georgia as well as national leaders, including Dr. Ernest Grant, the first man to become president of the American Nurses Association (ANA). And I think of Dr. Ken White, renowned educator, executive and author, who led the charge with the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) to create an ACHE member group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) healthcare executives and allies to advance diversity and inclusion for the LGBT patient population as well as members of the workforce. This year, Dr. White became the first openly gay man to receive ACHE’s Gold Medal Award, the highest honor in the field of healthcare management.

I could go on and on about the exceptional nurse leaders, educators, researchers and clinicians who have helped me keep my fire burning brightly for our profession. What gives me hope about transforming the healthcare system is that there are millions more nurses who are just as extraordinary as my friends and colleagues and are working diligently to advance health for patients and populations here and abroad. Just as Florence Nightingale, affectionately referred to as “the lady with the lamp,” lit the way forward for our profession, each of you are charting new paths that will ultimately lead to the reformation of the healthcare system and the actualization of reimagined care delivery. Not only during National Nurses Week, but every day, let us celebrate the unique contributions of the 4 million nurses who are lighting paths to healthcare transformation. Keep shining brilliantly! 

Original Publish Date: May 2, 2019

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