Nurses find their niche in today’s world

At 2.9 million strong, nurses represent the largest group of health care workers in America. PEF represents nearly 10,000 nurses in New York state services.

No matter if they work in an emergency room or a school-based clinic, nurses are traditionally recognized for a week beginning with National Nurses Day May 6, and ending May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightengale, the founder of modern nursing.

“The role of the today’s nurse has expanded throughout the centuries,” said Dee Dodson, PEF Region 12 coordinator and chair of the PEF Nurses Committee.

“Individuals are drawn to this profession because of the compassion and dedication they feel toward people. In these times, they need that special commitment knowing their profession may be even more vital during times of pandemic disease or disasters,” Dodson said.

“Nurses today are committed to quality patient care as evidenced through our continuing education efforts, and our determination to improve health care, such as our struggle to get the mandatory overtime law passed in our state.

“Nursing today also offers opportunities to specialize in several areas that are important to an individual, whether it be neonatal intensive care or infection control. Nurses are drawn to where they can do their best,” Dodson said.

Helping others
PEF members Kunnel Varughese and Jesse Joshy found their nursing niches at Creedmore Psychiatric Center.

Both psychiatric nurses said a team effort with doctors, other nurses and therapists is what helps a patient to improve or recover.

But they each have their own special way of nursing.

“Sometimes, the best way to help a patient is just to listen. You can tell when someone is in pain,” Varughese said. “Listening to patients gives them a sense that someone cares and is concerned. It makes them happy and takes away the bad feelings in their minds.”

Joshy said, “Observation is also a critical part of the patient’s care. It’s the little things we notice and relate that can make a difference.

“There are a lot of sacrifices in this profession, but it is personally fulfilling. It is a career within a career, and a noble profession. We deal with perfect strangers at a time when they are most vulnerable. That is when we must show our compassion and earn the patient’s trust,” she said.

Rewarding times
Sometimes, the strangers who enter the lives of a nurse give something back.

Brenda Phillips, a nurse for more than 25 years who works at Helen Hayes Hospital, said two very disabled patients inspired her.

“These women, both quadriplegics, are very motivated to live a normal life, despite their disabilities,” Phillips said.

“One of the women just keeps fighting, even though her disease keeps progressing. I admire her. Instead of getting down or feeling sorry for herself, she fights to live.

And she fights insurance companies. She is trying to have a normal life. She has been a very positive influence.”

Phillips also said nursing is not only a rewarding profession, but one with many opportunities to find your niche.

BEAMING WITH PRIDE — Dozens of nurses from Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn pose for a group shot at a recognition ceremony celebrating their achievement in specialty certification. PEF Region 11 Coordinator Jemma Marie-Hanson was among the group for being one of the first nurses to achieve certification for lactation. Hanson called the event “historical and rewarding.” — Photo by Marcos Linus
Downstate nurses receive ‘certified’ accolades

Feelings of pride, accomplishment and joy filled the Health Science Education Building at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn March 18 when nearly 60 nurses were honored for achieving certification.

It was the first recognition ceremony of this type. According to Dianne Woods, deputy director of nursing, it won’t be the last.

Woods said a specialty certification validates a nurse has achieved a high level of knowledge and skill in a clinical specialty.

“In order to achieve certification, nurses must take a national written exam that is quite difficult, and have worked a certain number of hours in their specialty,” Woods said. “They are both knowledgeable and experienced. That leads to better care for patients and better patient outcomes.”

“This was an important event because it showed the administration is recognizing the importance of valuing nurses who have committed themselves to achieving and maintaining their certification,” said Cheryl Vincent, a PEF member and certified nurse.

“The ceremony was a gesture that went a long way in making the nurses feel appreciated and special. Everyone was beaming with smiles,” Vincent said. “We each received a real red rose corsage.”

The ceremony reflected the dedication of these nurses to becoming the best they can be, despite the time and expense involved with achieving certification. Downstate Medical Center does not pay nurses extra for being specialty certified, so the recognition was “wonderful,” Vincent said.

“More important than the money is the great sense of accomplishment and the pride I feel. I am now recognized as having expertise in my clinical area,” she added.

Vincent works in the neonatal intensive care unit. She said several nurses decided to start a study group as a way of motivating each other. Seven nurses paid and took the exam, and three passed. The ones who did not expressed interest in trying again.

The guest speaker at the event, Dr. Julia Aucoin from the Institute for Credentialing Innovation, encouraged the certified nurses to be mentors and help other nurses achieve certification.

Vincent agreed.

“We are committed to excellence in patient care. To those certified, I congratulate you. I also encourage those who do not have their certification to pursue it. Do it for yourself.

“The process of preparing for the exam may be tedious, but it will greatly sharpen your skills. You will feel more competent in your clinical area. And the best part,” Vincent said, “you will feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment when you put that ‘C’ for certified at the end of your title.

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