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From the American Nurses Association:

"When ANA Enterprise planned activities and resources for the Year of the Nurse, including expanding Nurses Week to a month-long tribute starting in 2020, we did not expect to be in the grip of a global pandemic. Now, a year later, as we continue to combat COVID-19, it is even more imperative to support and recognize all nurses for their contributions. In these challenging times, we encourage you to practice and promote self-care and to honor nurses and their immense contributions in meaningful ways. While continued social distancing may limit our face-to-face activities, think of creative ways to engage and participate in virtual ways throughout 2021.

Our second observance of Nurses Month in 2021 provides an added opportunity to promote the value of nursing, advocate for the profession, conduct media outreach, and host virtual events. Connect your activities to the official Nurses Month tagline, You Make a Difference, recognizing nurses’ unparalleled impact on health and health care."

Loyola's Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing is celebrating our own faculty, students, alumni, and community with the below highlights.

Lorna Finnegan, Dean

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Q1: Describe the moments/epiphanies that led you into healthcare and nursing. 

When I was a young nurse practicing in acute care, my career focus was not clear to me. When I shifted to primary care and public health in my family nurse practitioner program, all of my clinical rotations were in clinics in underserved communities. I realized this was where I was needed and never looked back.
 
Q2: Share the qualities and adjectives that describe the world's best nurses.

It’s so important to look at people in the context of their community and family to help understand their needs. If you only look at a person when they come in and you expect them to do everything you want them to do, that’s not going to happen. Social determinants such as income, education, employment status, housing, transportation and healthy food, play a much bigger role than individual encounters with health care providers. The best nurses keep that in mind that every time they care for someone. Nurses play a key role in reducing health inequities, and the recently released Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report is focused on how nurse can lead change to advance health for all.
 
Q3: Name times where you changed or saved a patient's life.

The most exciting change for me happened during the early 1990s when we started a school-based clinic in a closet and watched it grow into a federally-qualified health center. We just started by making sure all of the students were immunized. By October of every year, if the students didn’t have their immunizations and physical exams, they would be excluded from school. When we started the clinic, 250 students were excluded from school due to lack of physical exams and inadequate immunizations. Within one year, our outreach tactics decreased the numbers of excluded students to 9. We demonstrated how a nursing model of primary health care made a difference on an entire community.
 
Q4: Reveal some of what it is like to be in the front lines during a pandemic.
 
I was not on the front lines during the pandemic, and I cannot imagine what front-line nurses experienced. I am so proud to be their colleague. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that change is constant. I would like to thank our faculty and staff for their dedication, creativity, and determination in creating meaningful virtual experiences to prepare Loyola nurses during the pandemic. I would also like to thank our clinical partners for welcoming us back while stretched beyond imagination during the pandemic. Their dedication has allowed our students to continue their journey to become Loyola nurses. Finally, I would like to thank our students for choosing the best profession in the world and for their flexibility and persistence.
 
Q5: Tell us what we can do to show you how much we appreciate you!

Caring for the caretaker means investing in nurse well-being. An entire chapter of the Future of Nursing 2020-2030 is dedicated to supporting the health and professional well-being of nurses. I think this quote from that chapter captures the work ahead. "Approaches to supporting nurse well-being must not be simply short-term, discrete initiatives; they must be embedded systematically into every aspect of nursing, from education to retirement, and in every practice setting. COVID-19 has served as an inflection point for giving nurses’ well-being the attention it deserves and for restructuring systems, organizations, and policies to promote their physical, mental, moral, and social health."

Ginger Dean, Student

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Q1: Describe the moments/epiphanies that led you into healthcare and nursing. 

I grew up loving to learn and wanting to push myself to be better each day. Coming from a family of first responders, my passion for learning transformed into passion to care for those around me and there is no better way to do that then nursing!
 
Q2: Share the qualities and adjectives that describe the world's best nurses.

Nurses are strong and relentless in all situations. They are always willing to seek answers if one is not known and never back down from a task. Nurses care for those who need it, even if that individual may not be caring for themselves.
 
Q3: Name times where you changed or saved a patient's life.

The first time was speaking with a family of a elder patient who was struggling in her health journey. Just speaking to them about the next step in their care and things they needed for comfort made a big difference in their journey. The second situation involved a rapid response on a seizing patient. At the time, I was working as a monitor tech, and luckily I was able to recognize the seizure and get him the care he needed.
 
Q4: Reveal some of what it is like to be in the front lines during a pandemic.
 
Working on the frontlines during this pandemic has really pushed many out of their comfort zone. It has been scary, sad, hopeful, and overall just a journey that as nurses (and citizens) we never want to face. However, through the struggles of the 12 hour shifts in full PPE, or not having enough PPE, there was never a sign in quit in anyone on the front lines. I think that is the biggest thing that stuck out to me and inspired me to keep pushing forward as well.
 
Q5: Tell us what we can do to show you how much we appreciate you!

There is no better way to show appreciation than just saying thank you! However, being patient, providing resources for nurses who are experiencing burnout during this pandemic, and everyone doing their part to keep themselves and others healthy is a great way to show nurses and other frontline workers appreciation.

Mirella Torres, Alum

 
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Q1: Describe the moments/epiphanies that led you into healthcare and nursing. 
 
I had a couple of positive experiences as a teenager where I observed providers provide care that made me think I could pursue the medical field. However, what made choose nursing as a profession was listening to my mom tell me her story about how impactful her labor nurse was when I was born. This nurse was compassionate, supportive, and caring to a young non-english speaking woman, alone in a foreign country having her first child. I knew that I wanted to be able to provide that type of care to others in their most vulnerable moment.
 
Q2: Share the qualities and adjectives that describe the world's best nurses.

The qualities that best describe a nurse: the ability to be non/judgmental and neutral about a patient’s situation. Having this character trait allows an RN to provide thoughtful, meaningful care which allows the patient in turn focus on their healing. Empathy: this characteristic is all encompassing. It allows a nurse to displace her own views and adopt the patient’s experience to be able to carry out care in a wholistic approach.
 
Q3: Name times where you changed or saved a patient's life.

I listened to a patient’s friend who said the newborn looked funny- the patient was having a respiratory arrest and successful Resuscitation was performed. An unregistered patient screamed as she was undressing in OB triage and come to find a tiny hand sticking out of her vagina; she immediately underwent an emergent c-section in under 8 minutes from when she walked in and hearing her newborn cry.
 
Q4: Reveal some of what it is like to be in the front lines during a pandemic.
 
It has been mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. However, the comradeship amongst the nurses and other health care staff, have revealed the true human need to help others in there worst moment.
 
Q5: Tell us what we can do to show you how much we appreciate you!

Promote work life balance during nursing school. Continue to educate nurses on navigating the business world of healthcare to maintain patient health as the priority.

Lauri John, Alum 1978

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Q1: Describe the moments/epiphanies that led you into healthcare and nursing. 

I decided to become a nurse when I realized that it would provide wonderful opportunities to integrate my love of science, particularly physiology, with working with people. I have never been disappointed in that decision. In nursing, your opportunities are only limited by your imagination.
 
Q2: Share the qualities and adjectives that describe the world's best nurses.

The best nurses are able to balance their knowledge, experience, critical thinking, and caring.
 
Q3: Name times where you changed or saved a patient's life.

I worked in clinical practice as an oncology CNS before entering academia. In oncology clinical practice, I was able to hep people make hard decisions about their care while promoting their quality of life. As an educator who has worked with students in BSN, MSN, PhD, and DNP programs, I have tried to help them learn to have positive impacts on the ives of their patients and their students.
 
Q4: Reveal some of what it is like to be in the front lines during a pandemic.
 
I was not in clinical practice during the pandemic, so I don’t think of myself as having been on the front lines. Because my students in the MSN and DNP programs were on the front lines, my role was to support them by being as flexible as possible with due dates ad assignments.

Anna Breshnahan, Alum

 
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Q1: Describe the moments/epiphanies that led you into healthcare and nursing. 
 
I wanted to be a part of the healing process.
 
Q2: Share the qualities and adjectives that describe the world's best nurses.

A good nurse is able to juggle hundreds of tasks, whilst weighing the importance of each one. A good nurse can find common ground with people of all cultures, backgrounds and languages. A good nurse can carry the weight of diagnosis’s, diseases and distrust and remain neutral. A good nurse fights for inequality and injustice for patients, colleagues and oneself.
 
Q3: Name times where you changed or saved a patient's life.

I once described a patient’s last sunrise as she quietly died. I thought it was important she know that the world was a beautiful place, even from that hospital room. I sat with a COVID patient, quietly while he slept. He was too nervous to sleep, worried he would get worse without realizing it.
 
Q4: Reveal some of what it is like to be in the front lines during a pandemic.
 
Unimaginable. Scary. Constant.
 
Q5: Tell us what we can do to show you how much we appreciate you!

Check up on us. Send cookies!

James Dao, Student

Q1: Describe the moments/epiphanies that led you into healthcare and nursing. 

I realized that I was passionate about people, and wanted a job where I could directly work with people in times of need. Realizing that healthcare needs good providers, I knew that I could make the greatest impact on the world through nursing.
 
Q2: Share the qualities and adjectives that describe the world's best nurses.

The world’s best nurses are thoughtful, empathetic, passionate, emotionally intelligent and incredibly intellectual.
 
Q3: Name times where you changed or saved a patient's life.

I worked with Veterans at the VA as a nursing fellow and provided outpatient care throughout the pandemic. I travelled to rural villages in Nicaragua to aid in providing healthcare to people who could not access it.
 
Q4: Reveal some of what it is like to be in the front lines during a pandemic.
 
As mentioned, I spent my last summer working in outpatient care at Hines VA as a nursing fellow. In a time where people where scared and the world still didnt really know what it was dealing with, i was able to provide comfort and care to a particularly at-risk subpopulation of society.
 
Q5: Tell us what we can do to show you how much we appreciate you!

Just keep up all the great work that you have been doing!

Lise Hauser, Faculty

 
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Q1: Describe the moments/epiphanies that led you into healthcare and nursing. 

I knew since I was very young that teaching/service to others was my calling. Women's health fascinated me, and during my first undergraduate degree, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the mandatory year of biology classes. I became a nurse, then a certified nurse-midwife, and now I have the joy of teaching undergraduate nursing students.
 
Q2: Share the qualities and adjectives that describe the world's best nurses.

The world's best nurses are intelligent, dedicated, and humble enough to learn from their own mistakes. They know their limits, and honor them, and in doing so, make the world safer for all of us. The world's best nurses know that we are always teaching.
 
Q3: Name times where you changed or saved a patient's life.

I delivered nearly 900 babies in my clinical career as a certified nurse-midwife. I cared for pregnant adolescents, refugees, immigrants, and women who survived sex trafficking and interpersonal violence. I believe that any other competent provider could've stopped the bleeding, delivered the baby, etc. But I am convinced that the compassion and humility taught to me by my mentors is what truly changed, and perhaps even saved some lives.
 
Q4: Reveal some of what it is like to be in the front lines during a pandemic.
 
I was not on the clinical front line, but I was on the academic front line, teaching students who put their bodies on the line every day in clinical. We worked so hard to give the students the time, energy, and quality education they deserve. It is exhausting, exhilarating, and rewarding.
 
Q5: Tell us what we can do to show you how much we appreciate you!

Work with us to solve the problems we uncover in this completely new frontier. Talk to the teachers 1:1 and find out what problems we've identified, what frustrates us and breaks our hearts, the solutions we've thought of. That's what I care about. Of course I appreciate praise, and we (faculty) know you (admin team) are battling things out at your level, too! Please understand my appreciation for the work you do.

Daria Ruffolo, Faculty & NP

 2021 Papa New Guinea Map for Nurses Month MQ 300w.jpg
 
Q1: Describe the moments/epiphanies that led you into healthcare and nursing. 

It would seem that I always wanted to be a nurse. I loved science, I am by nature a "caregiver" and once I had my first CNA job I was certain!
 
Q2: Share the qualities and adjectives that describe the world's best nurses.

There has to be compassion to care for the entire person, mind, body and spirit, you have to realize the work will be hard but the rewards immeasurable. There has to be a mindset of lifelong learning.
 
Q3: Name times where you changed or saved a patient's life.

I have had the opportunity to not only work with some of the very sickest patients in the trauma ICU but also in areas of the world like Papua New Guinea where I lived solo in villages with the people for months on end, caring for those that had never seen healthcare. I think one of the places I most feel the impact is when I can nurse, guide or educate a family member of someone I have a dear relationship. It brings that relationship to full measure.
 
Q4: Reveal some of what it is like to be in the front lines during a pandemic.
 
I did not personally care for patients with Covid though I saw many that were mildly symptomatic and had to determine if they were stable for surgery. A new clinical challenge.
 
Q5: Tell us what we can do to show you how much we appreciate you!

Providing time and places to recharge, pray, sing, close your eyes. I have done this in patient's BRs in the past. Incentives in the form of educational resources. Seminars on self-care.

"The Bath," a Short Story by Alum Michelle Jordan, 2019

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I walked into the patient’s room on a Sunday afternoon, my favorite day of the week to be at the hospital. There usually is a sense of ease and a kind of reprieve from most of the testing. With the newspaper scattered on her bed, Kathy looked up, smiled, and began to take stock of me. I felt as if I was now on her turf. Most patients in the CCU are too vulnerable and too medically compromised to extend the kind of energy that Kathy generated. I thought she would be an easy patient and would leave me enough time to deal with whatever else came up.

I did my assessment of Kathy. She was 48 years old. She had metastatic pancreatic cancer, but she was in the CCU to rule out cardiac complications. I noted that she was an attractive woman with large blue eyes, chiseled features, and with an attentive husband often at the bedside. He had just brought her a shepherd’s pie for dinner. As I interviewed her, she clearly wanted to convey strength and independence. She spoke clearly and forthrightly. She was not on oxygen and was strong enough to feed herself. She wanted to show me how well she could do her spirometry. She knew how serious her condition was, but her whole demeanor was that of a woman intent on beating the odds and getting back home.

Nurses Month 2021 Short Story PullQuotes 1

After I left the room to care for my other patient who needed complete help with most of her care, Kathy pressed the call button and asked me for assistance. She wanted to take a walk with her husband. I had been able to satisfy my other patient’s needs so I returned and helped Kathy get out of bed, positioned her walker and watched as she held on and straightened up. I took note that she moved at a normal pace and took a longer walk than most of our patients.

Later that evening, around 9:30 p.m., Kathy called again. This time she asked for a bath. I wanted to call on the care tech to give the bath, but she was busy. I decided to find the pre-warmed ready washcloths and give her a quick bath in the bed. Kathy had other ideas--she was intent on a having more of a real bath. She spoke in a voice like something between a direction and an appeal. “I want a washcloth and a basin. Please help me into the bathroom.” I started thinking, how are we going to do this and be done in time for the shift change at 10:45 pm. And what if another patient comes in and, as charge nurse, I have to assign a nurse and assist in settling a new patient. But the night had been manageable up to this point, and Kathy had her heart set on the bath, so I agreed.

First, I disconnected the EKG and BP cables. We walked into the bathroom. I had a chair ready at the sink. I helped her sit down and turned on the warm water. At that moment, the phone in my pocket rang. I took the call and learned that a cardiac arrest patient who needed the hypothermia protocol was due to arrive shortly. I felt a sense of urgency and conflict. Kathy’s bath had been interrupted. I explained the situation to her gently as a clue that we need to move along. Even as I tried to hurry, she was conveying to me how much she loved the feel of the warm water running over her hands. She smiled as she worked right along with me washing her face and arms while I washed her back and legs. I put a fresh gown on her and we were ready to go back. She was more energetic and did not need the walker this time. She smiled as she said, “I feel ready for the new week ahead.” I returned the smile and wished her a “Good night.” Her happiness transferred to me and gave me the energy I needed to handle the complications and challenges that came with the new patient.

I was off the next day and when I arrived on Tuesday, I learned from our nurse manager that Kathy was asking for me. She was now in Neuro ICU. She had a stroke the morning after the bath. Tuesday was very busy and by the time I finished, it was too late to see Kathy. The next day during my dinner break I found her. As I walked into her room, her husband left immediately. I walked up to her and saw her gaze to the right, with a puffy left arm placed on a pillow. I said her name, “Kathy.” Her voice sounded urgent when she whispered, “Where have you been?” She told me she was not allowed to eat the food she wanted or to get up anymore. Her voice sounded scared. She complained, “ I have to wait to be tested.” She pleaded with me to intervene on her behalf. “Please tell them who I am. You know me. I remember the call you got when you were helping me with the bath, about a patient who would be coming in.”  She was remembering the conversation she heard me have about the incoming patient. “What happened to that lady? Please give some of my flowers to her.” She then picked up her spirometer and started to use it. I could feel her determination. For a moment she stopped and was able to turn her head so now her eyes met mine. “I am still here. Please tell them what I can do.” I gently leaned in and reassured her of how strong and determined I found her to be.

Nurses Month 2021 Short Story PullQuotes 2

I walked out into the hallway. Kathy’s husband told me that he saw something, a special connection happen between Kathy and me that evening in the CCU. He said this was something Kathy was holding onto now. I told him that I was struck by how clearly she remembered details surrounding her bath. I found Kathy’s nurse, and tried to convey to him what Kathy wanted her caregivers to understand about her. He politely acknowledged my input but my story seemed to fall flat-- maybe what occurred loses its power in translation. Of course Kathy was different after the stroke, but her mind was intact and she could talk. More importantly, she was still determined and intent on being the strong woman she had always been. As I walked away, her husband had flowers in his hands and called out to me, “Kathy wants you to give these to the patient who was crying out.” I took the flowers and walked back to my unit to deliver the flowers.

I keep thinking about the bath that I almost didn’t give Kathy. It is easy to focus on our technological prowess and dismiss something as supposedly simple as a bath, but it was the bath that was proving itself most meaningful to Kathy. The bath was over, but it still provided her hope that whatever medical interventions lay before her, those who will care for her will see beyond the technology or the treatment and will try to connect with the suffering woman who still felt intact in a very personal way.

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I do not know how Kathy progressed after her stroke. We lose track of our patients, but they remember how they felt with us, their nurses, long after our time together.