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.”
Our Nurse of the Week is Bill Smith, a former US Navy welder who pursued a career in nursing following his return from the military and found his calling in the cardiac-cath lab. A veteran for 25 years, Smith used the GI Bill to help him return to school and become a nurse, a field that piqued his interested over two decades ago. Now he works as a shift supervisor and team player in the cardiac-cath lab at Jackson Hospital in Montgomery, AL.
Smith started out his nursing career as a student at Troy State (now Troy University). Following his graduation, he took his first job on a heart floor where he found his passion for cardiac nursing. He has since worked at hospitals all over the state and country, but he prefers his home at Jackson.
As a shift supervisor in the cardiac-cath lab, Smith works with patients who have a cardiac component like chest pains, shortness of breath, or excess fatigue. Smith tells the MontgomeryAdvertiser.com, “We can take a heart attack and stop it midstream. It’s very gratifying to put a heart attack out right in front of you. It’s very gratifying work that we do in the cath lab.”
While returning to civilian life, Smith says the hardest part of his adjustment in leaving the military was going back to school. It was hard work and he found it intimidating at first, but he adjusted quickly and found that he had a talent for it. Smith isn’t big on individual attention, but his hard work has earned attention anyway. He was a recent recipient of the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses and one of the first recipients at Jackson Hospital to receive the award. Discussing his career in nursing, Smith says:
“I’ve learned a lot about myself in that I have more patience than I thought I did, or compassion, toward my fellow man. I did not know before I got into nursing that I could do this role, that I could be as compassionate or patient with mankind, with other people, as I’ve developed over time.”
We want to thank our Nurse of the Week, Bill Smith, for his service over the years in both the Navy and as a dedicated nurse. To learn more about Smith’s experience as a cardiac-cath lab nurse, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Lauren Wirwille, bride-to-be, who was driving to her own bridal shower with her mom in the front seat when she noticed a minivan stopped in front of her. She decided to honk, prompting the car to start moving again, but after Wirwille turned at the intersection her mom saw the van veer off the road. Realizing that the man had looked slumped over, Wirwille pulled over and ran toward the man’s car where she found him unconscious.
As an emergency room nurse for St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Green Oak Township, MI, Wirwille knew exactly what to do to help the man who had gone blue in the face. She was already running late to her bridal shower but couldn’t help pulling over to help a stranger, and she quickly realized it was a good thing she had followed her instincts.
After instructing her mother to call 911, Wirwille began trying to find the man’s pulse. At the same time, another driver pulled over and offered to help get the man out of his vehicle. Then Wirwille immediately started CPR. She recalled the event to ABCNews.go.com, explaining that, “Not a lot of people know how to do chest compressions. After a little while, you do get tired, and you need to not be tired, so I had my mom start chest compressions. She did great. I was so proud of her.”
Shortly after starting CPR, Fire Chief Kevin Gentry arrived on the scene and assisted in performing chest compressions. The EMS crew was able to revive the man and transport him to Providence Hospital where they believe the man was recovering but weren’t able to retrieve any details.
Wirwille ended up being an hour late to her bridal shower, but she was welcomed with open arms and applauded for her heroic actions. She didn’t regret being late to her shower; she was simply humbled by the experience and happy she was able to help somebody through an emergency situation.
Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, previously appointed by the Obama administration, was asked to resign on Friday following instructions from the Trump administration. Murthy was replaced by his deputy, Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, PhD, RN, FAAN, one of the first nurses to be appointed surgeon general and the first non-physician to be appointed.
While Trent-Adams is the first non-physician surgeon general, Dr. Richard Carmona who served under the Bush administration was both a nurse and physician, as reported by NYTimes.com. According to SurgeonGeneral.gov, “The Surgeon General provides Americans with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury.” It has not been made clear why Dr. Murthy was asked to step down, but he commended the appointment of Dr. Trent-Adams with a Facebook post stating:
“The new Acting Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, is the right person to step into this role. She has dedicated the past 30 years to our nation serving in the Army and in the US Public Health Service. Her deep wealth of experience is matched only by the immense size of her heart. I know she will serve with distinction.”
Before stepping into her role as surgeon general, Trent-Adams previously served as CNO of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and before that as deputy associate administrator for the HIV/AIDS bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, as reported by Becker’s Hospital Review. Trent-Adams also served as a nurse officer in the US Army and a research nurse at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where she earned her PhD.
To learn more about the appointment of Acting Surgeon General Sylvia Trent-Adams, visit here.
Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (JHSON) Professor Cheryl Dennison Himmelfarb, PhD, RN, ANP, FAAN, FAHA, FPCNA, has been accepted for induction to the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame. STTI’s Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame acknowledges nurses of national and international recognition whose research has improved lives and the profession.
Himmelfarb tells Newswise.com, “This is a gratifying and humbling moment in my career. I am thankful to the mentors, colleagues, and funders that have guided and collaborated with me in this most rewarding work. I am proud to be inducted among so many distinguished nurses and esteemed colleagues.”
With research focusing on cardiovascular risk, chronic illness management, and patient safety, Himmelfarb has closely examined the social and cultural determinants of cardiovascular risk, particularly among resource-limited populations.
After serving with the National Institutes of Health and American Heart Association, Himmelfarb helped develop national clinical guidelines to reduce health disparities and improve cardiovascular care. She is deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translation Research, helping enhance and promote best practices in research participant recruitment and community engagement.
Himmelfarb is director of the Helene Fuld Leadership Program for the Advancement of Patient Safety and Quality in the JHSON, mentoring the next generation of nurses interested in quality and safety of health care. She also directs the Office for Science and Innovation, facilitating faculty and student research. Outside JHSON, Himmelfarb is the current president of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing among other associations.
Dr. Himmelfarb will be inducted to the Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame at STTI’s 28th International Nursing Research Congress in July. To learn more about her research and impact in the field of nursing, visit here.
Lori A. Spies, PhD, RN, assistant professor in the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) recently received a 2017-18 Fulbright Global Scholar Award. Spies’ work specializes in global health and building capacity in health care providers. Her colleagues at Baylor are immensely proud of her prestigious recognition and the research and global health contributions she makes to the university. Spies tells Baylor.edu:
“I am thrilled to have been selected to receive the Global Fulbright. The award will allow me the amazing opportunity to teach and implement research in three countries. I look forward to collaborating with health care providers in India, Vietnam, and Zambia to research best education practices in noncommunicable diseases.”
With a background in teaching global health and international clinical courses to graduate students for over a decade, Spies’ Fulbright award is well deserved. Spies is the co-founder of the North Texas African Health Initiative, a past president of the North Texas Nurse Practitioners, and she serves on the practice committee for the International Council of Nurses Advanced Practice Nursing Network. Her international work includes travel to Uganda to build nurse leadership and research capacity; participation in faculty and nurse development in Ethiopia, India, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia; and refugee outreach in Myanmar.
The Fulbright Program is a government international educational exchange program sponsored by the US Department of State. Since its founding in 1946, over 370,000 award recipients from 180 countries have been given the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.