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.
My network of team leaders helped me transition into nursing after 16 years as a paramedic. I didn’t get to be part of patients’ follow-up care or journey back to independence while working as a paramedic.
As part of MJHS Home Care, I see patients one-on-one, but with the support I get from my special colleagues, I’ve never felt alone. Most important, my team leaders have taught me that at the end of the day, it’s all about our patients.
When I was a high school volunteer in the ICU of a community hospital in Brooklyn, I watched the nurses care for patients and knew I wanted to be a nurse. As a nurse for more than three decades, I continue to be inspired by nurses every day, individually and collectively.
Individually, I see nurses work tirelessly to provide excellent care during difficult financial times, and I am determined to make sure they have the resources they need to provide safe care. I am inspired when I see younger nurses become leaders on their units and I know I have made a difference.
Several nurses have mentored and provided a springboard for me to elevate my practice and expand my scope of influence. They did so by recognizing potential in me that was hidden from myself. They helped me gain entry into higher levels of practice and a peer group that role-modeled leadership.
When I am having one of those days when I ask myself, “Why do I do this?,” I think of those nurses and the patients we care for and remember that I am privileged to be touched by others and to touch others’ lives every day.
The nurse who remains with me as the most inspiring is Patricia Liang. We worked side by side in the postanesthesia care unit for decades.
She was the go-to resource because she seemed to know what to do in every situation and could impart the information to staff in a kind and supportive way.
Liang was tiny in stature but relayed an enormous, quiet power, always in a respectful way. The new residents got away with nothing when Liang was around. She not only had a seemingly bottomless wealth of knowledge, but she also had an unfailing moral compass. When there was an ethical issue that needed to be resolved, we knew to ask Liang.
She was not a talkative person — she was usually focused on coordinating care — but you somehow felt her support and appreciation for your efforts. I always will remember her for not just being an outstanding nurse, but for also being an outstanding person.
It is hard to single out one particular person because I truly can say my professional life has been enriched and my work ethics validated by each of the nurses with whom I work. I feel empowered and energized in my daily work because of my colleagues.
Nearly every morning for the past 10 years, I have been fortunate to have a chat with Marilyn Liota, RN, as we start our day around 7 a.m. Nearly every conversation begins with Liota saying: “Tell me what is good.” From there, we have gone off in many directions. What a way to open a conversation, and what a way to start the day.
I consider myself fortunate to have known Liota, worked under her leadership and guidance, and been a part of the special and historic “Marilyn Liota” years at VNSNY. Liota recently retired and I’m truly happy for her, yet underneath it all, I feel a touch of sadness, too. I will miss her so much.
So typical of a giving soul like hers, Liota’s next steps involve giving generously of herself to help others as a volunteer working with new immigrants for a nonprofit organization called “Literacy Nassau.”
Her style of leadership motivates and inspires all who know her to be successful in their careers. She gets out and circulates among the troops. No matter how dark the day, I always can count on her to make it a learning experience without being punitive.
We share the same vision and passion for nursing. There is never a day when she won’t sit and have coffee, share a story, sing a song or just listen. “Every patient, every time” is the mantra she taught me and her staff. I am a better person professionally and spiritually because of this special outstanding woman.
Compassion, honesty, fairness and loyalty are what I have taken from this extraordinary nurse who, throughout my career, has been my role model. Everyone should have someone like Mele in their life. I thank God for her every day.
I was 21 years old when I was a new RN on a med/surg floor. On that unit there was no such thing as being alone as a nurse — we worked together as a team. It was scary, overwhelming and exciting at the same time.
Lisa Williams, my first nurse manager, did more than just her job. If there was a sick call, she would take a section of patients. If we needed some extra hands, she would give bed baths. Williams exemplified confidence, leadership and teamwork with a touch of color and a twist of enthusiasm that would radiate to her staff.
The quality that amazed me most was her compassion for people. It wasn’t just about your abilities as a nurse; it was about tapping into the kind of person you were and helping you grow. She could sense if something was wrong, take you to the side and support you through the challenge.
Williams’ specialty was to identify a nurse’s potential and mentor her to be a better nurse and a better person. She encouraged me to be the charge nurse and join committees when I didn’t think I was ready, but she assured me I was. Now I am a critical care RN and even host a CCRN review class. I volunteer for many committees. I am a better person and nurse because of Williams, my first nurse manager, mentor and friend.
I was a new graduate nurse when I started working on the labor and delivery unit at White Plains Hospital. In nursing school, we heard that nurses eat their young, so the support, camaraderie and familylike atmosphere I felt on the unit was something I never expected.
My colleagues took me under their wings and enthusiastically shared their knowledge and individual experiences, most of which were things I had not learned in school. When observing my colleagues in action, I learned how to make a patient and his or her family feel comfortable, calm and welcome; how to complete an efficient history and physical while admitting a woman in labor; and how to make the delivery of every baby special despite the paperwork and nursing tasks.
This shared knowledge from my colleagues continues to enrich my professional life and has shaped me into the nurse I am today. My colleagues also have supported me in my personal life through many important moments, such as relationships, break-ups, moves, graduate school, marriage and the birth of my daughter. I am thankful for the positive influences of my strong, intelligent and caring colleagues.
For more responses, visit www.Nurse.com/Article/NJThankYou.