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Hudson Valley, New Jersey nurses share why colleagues inspire them

Tuesday May 1, 2012
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Barbara Misiano, RN
In healthcare facilities, it takes a network of teammates to ensure the optimal health of patients who receive care. The most successful teams are those who acknowledge each otherís strengths and work together accordingly where there are weaknesses, inspiring one another along the way.

In honor of National Nurses Week, we asked nurses in New York and New Jersey to share the many ways in which their colleagues inspire them in their everyday lives to be better nurses, better teammates and better people. On the next few pages, we share their thought-provoking and heartfelt responses with you.

Barbara Misiano, RN, MS, CCRN, staff nurse, ICU, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco, N.Y.

I can say, without any hesitation, that my nursing colleagues enrich my personal and professional life on a daily basis. I have been blessed to work with an excellent team of compassionate and exceptionally competent nurses.

We share knowledge, consult each other on clinical issues and share accountability for patient care. Knowing they are there for me makes me a better nurse. They provide the needed emotional support for me to care for challenging patients and are a sounding board when I need to discuss complex clinical cases.

My nursing colleagues also support me on a personal level. I can share personal issues and know they genuinely care. I am proud to work with such a supportive team of nurses.

This also is apparent in my role in shared governance, where my nurse colleagues include not only staff nurses but also my manager, director and CNO. Nurses from other units are my colleagues as well, and when I work with these amazing individuals on projects and initiatives, I am proud to be part of the nursing profession.


Jennifer Calabrese, RN, right, with Barbara Miller, RN.
Jennifer Calabrese, RN, BS, staff nurse, medical unit, Overlook Medical Center, Summit, N.J.

When I started my first nursing job at Overlook Medical Center, any anxieties I had slowly were allayed by the supportive nurses on the unit who were willing to take time from their busy days to help someone new.

One nurse in particular, Barbara Miller, will drop anything she is doing to help or just listen, no matter how busy. With her bright red hair, Miller is hard to miss on the unit ó nor would you want to miss her. Her kind heart and fun-loving attitude create a great working environment in a place where sometimes that may be hard to achieve.

Itís easy to see how people can become affected by the stress and heavy work on a medical unit. Great nurses like Miller exemplify the importance of the human element. She demonstrates by her actions that you can accomplish what you need to accomplish and still remember the reason why youíre there.

I always will remember my first nursing job, and I always will be indebted to Miller and the women on 10CD who helped me feel like I had it in me to be good at what I do.


Theresa M. Campo, RN
Theresa M. Campo, RN, DNP, APN, NP-C, CEN, assistant professor, Felician College, Lodi, N.J.

There are many nursing colleagues who influence me daily, but one in particular stands out. Her name is Joyce J. Fitzpatrick.

I first met her during a research course while pursuing my DNP at Case Western Reserve University. At first I didnít realize exactly who this professor was, but with time and a little research, I learned about her accomplishments.

Fitzpatrick has a way of getting you to go outside of your comfort level and take on challenges you never would contemplate on your own. She has an innate quality to see the best in people and their potential to succeed. She has an amazing understanding and view of nursing that surpasses anyone I know.

Although she has many accomplishments of her own, she always is proud of and excited about the milestones of others. You canít help but want to become more active in the nursing profession and emulate what she has taught you.

I make every attempt to be a mentor to other nurses as she has been one for me. I take her lessons and share them with others. A true leader is someone who leads by example and plants seeds that grow for an eternity.


Susan Brindisi, RN
Susan Brindisi, CRRN, MS-Ed, MA, CHES, director of education, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, West Orange, N.J.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by nurses every day. First, there is my mentor, Joan Alverzo, CRRN, PhD, the senior CNE at Kessler, who inspired me to become a nurse and with whom I work closely on continuing nursing education programs. Through her leadership, I see why increasing the number of PhD nurses is critical to the nursing profession.

There is my daughter who works as a rehab assistant at Kessler and who is taking her prerequisites for a fast-track BSN degree. Her inquisitiveness and true love of nursing, healing and medicine inspires me.

Finally, I am inspired by the three nurses I work with on weekends as a staff nurse at Beth Israel in New York City. I have become a better nurse by being with them; their patience and lightheartedness are contagious and their clinical expertise in practice is admirable.


Jodi Balch, RN
Jodi Balch, RN, BSN, CWOCN, wound ostomy continence nurse, Orange Regional Medical Center, Middletown, N.Y.

Starting in June 2009, I gained valuable clinical experience working as an RN in the float pool at Orange Regional Medical Center. I noticed I was interested particularly in wound care, primarily because of the enthusiasm and dedication of the hospitalís wound ostomy continence nurse, Jeanne Price.

With her support and guidance, I completed the Cleveland Clinicís R. B. Turnbull Jr. School of Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing and passed the wound care certification in the fall.

In her daily practice, Price shares the knowledge she has gained over the past 15 years and helps me provide competent care to those in need. Price is more than a colleague; she has become my mentor and friend. She always welcomes my questions and never hesitates to offer advice pertaining to assessment and treatment modalities.

My life and career as a WOC nurse has been enriched by Priceís devotion and support. Thanks to her, I have found my special niche in nursing.


Maureen Schneider, RN
Maureen Schneider, RN, PhD(c), MSN, MBA, CPHQ, NEA-BC, FACHE, senior vice president of clinical program development and CNO, Somerset Medical Center, Somerville, N.J.

This past year we began an upgrade to the computerized documentation process and medication bar coding at Somerset Medical Center. The project required nurses who were at the bedside, who could speak to process and workflow, and who were able to communicate fluently with their colleagues.

The nurses who were called on for this project and who brought their clinical expertise and superb decision-making skills to the process were Lynn Freeland, RN-C, MSN, IBCLC, CPCE, assistant nurse manager, maternal child health; Christy Heckman, RN, BSN, staff nurse ED; Deb OíConnor, RN-C, staff nurse, med/surg; and Melissa Zimmerman, RN, BSN, staff nurse, critical care, along with support from Julie DeVries, RN, BSN, stroke coordinator and interim clinical informatics leader.

Their year-long work came to fruition March 22 when SMC went live with a new depart/discharge process, medication reconciliation, charting, tracking board in the ED and medication bar coding. During the successful go live, these nurses supported fellow nurses, physicians and one another while communicating problems and suggestions to the SMC IT department.

I commend this group of nurses and the entire nursing, physician and informatics team at SMC for their hard work, commitment, team effort and leadership during this major change process.


Portia Johnson, RN
Portia Johnson, RN, EdD, assistant professor, Seton Hall University, College of Nursing, South Orange, N.J.

One of my favorite teachers as a student nurse at Mercer County Community College was a clinical faculty member who left an indelible impression on me and still is a mentor to me today. In fact, she was the one who encouraged me to get my bachelorís degree in nursing.

Many years later, I found it challenging to make the transition from corporate life to academia. The new role as a faculty member in a college of nursing demanded a whole new skill set that was unfamiliar to me. Another mentor guided me in developing the basic proficiency needed in the faculty role. There was so much to learn, and she supported and encouraged me in developing myself in classroom teaching, student counseling, test and curriculum development, and meeting the criteria for scholarship.

As an assistant professor in the Seton Hall University College of Nursing since 2007, I have been inspired by many nursing colleagues who have assisted me in this transition. I owe most of my career development to Phyllis Hansell, dean of the college, who consistently lends her support by providing opportunities for research and grant writing.

Without the daily inspiration of my nursing colleagues, my path into academia would not have been possible.


Dorothy Cafran, RN
Dorothy Cafran, RN, BSN, CHPN, staff nurse, medical/oncology, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco, N.Y.

As an RN at Northern Westchester Hospital on the medical/oncology unit, I feel especially supported professionally and personally by our nurse educators. I am one of the clinical preceptors; the educatorsí guidance is critical to our success, and their acknowledgement of our strengths is heartwarming.

Tracey Boyd, RN, our assistant director of nursing education, and Sue Vrana-Koski, RN, our clinical practice educator, always are available to listen to our concerns, answer our questions, hear our suggestions and guide us in resolution of any issues. They also have provided us with supplemental educational resources, including inservice programs specific to our unit needs.

Despite the fact that I am old enough to be a mother to some of my nursing colleagues, I never feel like ďjust a staff nurse.Ē I am empowered to be a resource within my own areas of expertise, which is recognized within the clinical ladder program at Northern Westchester Hospital. The new nurses always bring fresh knowledge to our unit, and I am proud to be part of a profession where I still learn something new each and every day.


Anna M. Lane, RN
Anna M. Lane, RNC-NIC, BSN, clinical nurse IV, NICU/newborn services, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco, N.Y.

I am proud to belong to the profession of nurses who are dedicated to improving the quality of life for every individual ó from a personís first cry at birth to their last breath at death. I have witnessed and experienced the delivery of the highest quality of care in the most dignified manner.

As nurses, my colleagues and I know that we are the force to change the future of healthcare delivery. Each day the commitment to best practices is evidenced by the exploration, implementation and evaluation of nurse-driven change.

I have the opportunity to collaborate with nurse clinicians, nurse educators and nurse administrators at NWH and in the region to facilitate improvement in patient care. An unyielding support to strive for the ideal exists in the nursing profession.

My nurse colleagues and I empower each other to pursue practice improvements, benefitting those we care for and those who provide the care. For example, the NWH maternal child health team has launched a successful, innovative program in the use of technology for expressed breast milk identification.

The initiativeís outcomes include secured positive patient identification and improved nurse efficiency. Because of my colleaguesí encouragement, I have had the strength to present locally and nationally and educate other nurses on this accomplishment. The positive influence of my fellow nurses enriches my professional nursing practice.

For more responses, visit www.Nurse.com/Article/NYThankYou.


Janice Petrella Lynch, RN, MSN, and Tracey Boyd are regional reporters. Send letters to editorNY@nurse.com or post a comment below.