Our Nurse of the Week is Lisa Bails Froyd, a psych nurse from Indiana, Pennsylvania, who is no stranger to mental illness. After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she pushed through her personal setbacks to finish nursing school and now uses her experience to help others.
People are often shocked to find out that Froyd is a registered nurse (RN) with a mental illness, but she tells Observer-Reporter.com, “We’re out there like anyone else. We have the same struggles as anyone else.” People are often fearful of mental illness, but Froyd uses her own struggles with mental illness in her role as an RN with Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services.
“I tell people not to be fearful of mental illness. It gives us an ability to see things differently.”
Froyd hasn’t always had a diagnosed mental illness. It wasn’t until a few summers after graduating high school when an abusive relationship left her feeling haunted and unsafe, causing delusions that forced her into psychiatric treatment. However, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and beginning a regimen of medications to manage her mental illness allowed her to start nursing school a couple of years later.
Being exposed to a hospital environment while still in school left Froyd feeling uneasy, but she didn’t let her diagnosis stand in her way and eventually finished school. Letting go of the harmful stigmas surrounding mental illness allowed Froyd to fulfill her potential as a nurse, and she now encourages others with mental illness to pursue their own dreams and passions.
In addition to her role as an RN, Froyd is also involved with her local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Mental Health Association of Washington County. To learn more about her experience with mental illness and how it has positively motivated her nursing career, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Jim Gosnell, a nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, who has donated 16 gallons of blood over the last 30 years. Gosnell knows his blood type is O-negative, the universal blood type, and some of his donations go to the hospitals Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to help save children in need.
As a nurse, Gosnell gets pleasure out of knowing he’s helping someone every time he donates blood. Last Wednesday was World Blood Donor Day and it marked the 136th time Gosnell has donated. Although he’s already donated so much, he has a goal of donating 20 gallons. He says donating blood regularly is easy and it’s a great habit to get into, so he’s not done yet.
Dr. Richard Kaufman who heads the donor operation at Brigham tells Boston CBS, “Less than 5% of people who are eligible to donate actually donate. Any transfusion that’s given has the potential to save one or more lives, and it’s a very nice thing to be able to do for people.”
Gosnell says, “I donate about every 56 days. That’s when I’m eligible to donate.” He also encourages everyone who is able to get out and donate when they can.
Our Nurse of the Week is Kirsty Boden, a 28-year-old nurse who was killed during the London terrorist attack earlier this month as she ran towards danger in an effort to help people on the bridge. Boden was from Australia and had been living and working in London as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital where her colleagues described her as an “outstanding nurse” and a “one in a million” member of staff “who always went the extra mile for the patients in her care,” as reported by NBCNews.com.
“Kirsty was loved and adored by her family, friends and boyfriend. She was the most outgoing, kind and generous person who loved to help people. Helping people was what she loved to do in her job as a nurse and in her daily life.”
Boden was the second victim identified by authorities after three attackers drove a van into pedestrians on the London Bridge before proceeding on a stabbing rampage in Borough Market. Seven people were killed and dozens injured. In a statement to London’s Metropolitan Police, Boden’s family said: “As she ran towards danger, in an effort to help people on the bridge, Kirsty sadly lost her life.”
According to People.com, Danny Mortimer, an executive with the National Health Service, also released a commemorative statement: “It is truly humbling that bright, hard-working people like Kirsty were brave enough to run towards danger in aid of victims lying helpless on the bridge following such a barbaric attack.”
Our Nurse of the Week is Dionne Jaques, a recent graduate of Nightingale College’s associate degree nursing program. Dionne was recognized as the Class of Spring 2017 valedictorian, but that isn’t the only thing that sets her apart from her fellow graduates. Dionne also exceled in her studies despite being told by many that nurses can’t be deaf. Now she is thrilled to help others who think they can’t pursue their passion for nursing because of personal limitations.
“Don’t let your limitations slow you down. You can still do absolutely anything you want to do. Prove them wrong.”
An inspiration to her entire cohort, Dionne’s limitations were only small hiccups along her path to success. Many nursing programs resisted allowing Dionne to join due to the supposed difficulties a deaf student would encounter in a nursing program, but she stayed optimistic and graduated this May with a 4.0 GPA.
Dionne has always been deaf, but it has progressed over time. She relies on lip reading and sign language to communicate, and uses her cochlear implant (a device that replaces the functions of the damaged inner ear) to assist her in understanding sounds and speech. This didn’t stop her from pursuing her passion; it simply fueled her to find other resources like a specialized stethoscope and phone app that allows her to visually analyze sounds.
As valedictorian, Dionne shared her story and emphasized to her graduating cohort that limitations should never slow them down on their road to becoming nurses. Dionne’s message today is simple: “Don’t let your limitations slow you down. You can still do absolutely anything you want to do. Prove them wrong.”
Our Nurse of the Week is Yaneli Arizmendi, a University of Pennsylvania (Penn) nursing senior who is spearheading an after-school program for Latino high school students in South Philadelphia intended to drive improved academic success and build self-efficacy. The project titled Lanzando Lideres (Launching Leaders) will be funded via Penn’s Engagement and Innovation Prize program. Yaneli was one of eight undergraduate students to receive the honor following her internship with Puentes de Salud as part of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation’s Nursing Internship Program.
Yaneli will work with Alexa Salas and Camilo Toro, seniors in the College of Arts & Sciences, under mentorship from Toni Villarruel, the Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing. These students want to position Latino high school students to reach their personal, educational, and professional goals through an experiential, bilingual, and culturally-inclusive curriculum which will serve as the touchstone for the Lanzando Lideres program.
To learn more about Yaneli’s leadership on the Lanzando Lideres project and her background in nursing, read our full interview with her here:
What made you decide to pursue a nursing degree?
I’m very hands-on, so I’ve always wanted to pursue a career that requires physical engagement and practical application. My experience at Puentes de Salud – through the Independence Blue Cross Foundation’s Nursing Internship Program – cemented my desire to pursue a career in nursing. At the clinic, I worked with the triage nurse to initiate the visits for the walk-in patients. The clinic was always full because of the demand for patient care services, so the wait times were long. After learning the structure of the clinic, I started to begin triage for the provider and gather information about the chief complaint to determine whether the patient needed to be seen and, in certain cases, prepare the patient to see a doctor.
Tell me about your involvement with the after-school program for Latino high school students in Philadelphia.
Right now, we are still in the early stages of collaboration with our partner, Puentes de Salud, a south Philadelphia-based nonprofit that promotes the health and wellness of the rapidly growing Latino immigrant population through high-quality health care, innovative educational programs, and community building. Our program will be rooted in three principles: education, enrichment, and engagement.
We plan to launch the program in September, so our first priority is to develop an experiential, bilingual, and culturally inclusive curriculum that will serve as the touchstone of our program. Eventually, we will disseminate our curriculum and resources through an interactive website for students, tutors, and a larger community of Latino youth worldwide.
Ultimately, we hope to create a culturally grounded, community-based program that helps drive improved academic performance and builds self-efficacy, so students are positioned to reach their personal, educational, and professional goals.
What is the mission or goal of the program?
The program’s mission is to continuously improve the long-term health and prosperity of the South Philadelphia Latino immigrant community by actively addressing social and systematic inequities.
Was your internship at Puentes de Salud your inspiration for the after-school project?
The internship was an inspiration for the after-school program because it exposed me to the need in the community and the strategies to address health disparities. The relationship between community work, education, and health has a lot of potential when addressing the social inequities. Currently, the education program only serves elementary school students, but it does not serve high-school students, and my team and I hope to expand the mission of Puentes de Salud.
How do you think your internship and involvement with the after-school program will benefit and impact your nursing career in the future?
My internship and involvement with the after-school program have enriched my nursing career. I hope to continue to work with this population and serve the community holistically. I want to address the social determinants of health in my community and remain an advocate.
What are your future plans for a career in nursing?
In the short-term, I will continue my education via the University of Pennsylvania’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program.
Our Nurses of the Week are the three generations of Harms women who have all worked as obstetrics nurses. Christina Harms is a labor and delivery nurse at Spectrum Health Medical Center in Grand Rapids, MI where her mother, Sue Hoekstra, 56, works on the same floor. Christina’s grandmother, Mary Lou Wilkins, 86, was also a nurse at the same hospital. The three women estimate that they’ve helped care for over 10,000 babies over the course of their careers.
“It is so incredible that all three of us have helped build so many families and we have such a passion for these moms and their babies. We love taking care of them.”
Harms fondly tells People.com, “It just goes from generation to generation.” As the mother of two little boys, Harms didn’t always plan on following in her family’s footsteps. She went to college for a music degree but later realized that she had the same passion as her mother and grandmother. She decided to go back to school to become a nurse and has been working in obstetrics for the past four years.
After working night shifts in the labor and delivery unit, Harms often passes off patients to her mom who works day shifts in postpartum. Wilkins, who retired in 1991, says she also shared several patients with Hoekstra over the years. Now Wilkins watches her grandchildren during the day when Harms gets home from working night shifts.
Wilkins knows what it’s like to be a mother and nurse after juggling raising three kids while she worked night shifts at the hospital early on in her career. She became a nurse in 1962 and spent 28 years helping moms deliver their babies. She still remembers how special each individual case was.
All three of these women share in the knowledge of knowing how special it is they all fell in love with the same career path, caring for mothers and babies. When Hoekstra and Wilkins flew to Colorado for Harms’ graduation, they both said they couldn’t have been prouder. Harms shares in the pride, telling ABCNews.com, “It is so incredible that all three of us have helped build so many families and we have such a passion for these moms and their babies. We love taking care of them.”