Our Nurse of the Week is Chenai Mathabire, a 35-year-old Zimbabwean nurse and epidemiologist who received an International AIDS Society prize for showing that a faster tuberculosis test could be implemented in health centers throughout southeast Africa. Her work is expected to help save the lives of HIV-positive patients who contract tuberculosis.
Mathabire is the first nurse in her family, a career which has exposed her to dire health crises in Africa. After applying for a job at Doctors Without Borders, Mathabire helped diagnose malnourished children with HIV, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and malaria in Zimbabwe. She also supervised workers who were teaching HIV-positive pregnant women how to protect their children from the virus.
Mathabire emphases the importance of nursing educators, telling NPR.org, “Nursing is often looked down upon and people just think you are there to be the maid of the doctor or do the dirty work. But teachers made me realize that nurses have a big role to play.”
In 2015, Mathabire was recruited for her first research assignment at Doctors Without Borders, work that eventually won her the International AIDS Society prize according to NPR.org. She knew tuberculosis was the number one killer of HIV-positive patients, but she didn’t know that a rapid tuberculosis test existed until she read the study protocol. For two years, Mathabire and her team explored how health clinics and hospitals could implement the tuberculosis test for HIV patients who are more susceptible to the life-threatening infection. With a rapid tuberculosis test, sick patients could begin treatment the same day, often in less than an hour.
Mathabire still works for Doctors Without Borders and is considering furthering her research on HIV and tuberculosis. To learn more about Mathabire and her dedication to nursing research, visit here.
Faye Lewis has overcome many challenges to achieve her dream career in nursing. Single motherhood, deaths in the family, and working multiple jobs have made her journey harder but not impossible for Faye who graduated with her BSN degree last year and recently began a doctorate in nursing program through the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing as part of her long-term goal to become a nurse practitioner.
On September 6, Lewis posted a photo to Facebook showing all of the nametags and work IDs she has proudly worn throughout her journey to a successful nursing career while working jobs to support herself and her son, AJ. The post quickly went viral, inspiring more than 100,000 shares and 4,000 comments of encouragement from across the country, almost all of them from strangers.
Lewis, 27, is currently a registered nurse (RN) working full-time on the intermediate-care unit at Memorial Medical Center. She is the youngest child of four in a working-class family from Springfield, IL. Her journey started over 10 years ago when she got her first job as a KFC crew member at 16 years old. She has also held positions as a housekeeper at an assisted-living center, nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, and now registered nurse.
Lewis says she initially posted the photo of her job badges to help encourage herself. She tells the State Journal-Register, “I was having a rough day. It was the second week of grad school. So the response that the post received was very shocking to me.” Looking at all that she overcome gives her the motivation to keep going. Lewis has faced many challenges along the way from becoming a single parent at age 20 to the loss of her father and three other family members in a house fire in 2013.
Through it all, she remembers her lifelong dream to become a nurse and continues to find a way to pursue that passion. After beginning her career as a CNA, Lewis worked her way up through an LPN program, associate’s degree in nursing, and finally her bachelor’s degree in nursing which she completed in 2016 through Benedictine University.
Lewis admits it hasn’t been easy to be an employee, student, and mother at the same time, but she has had much-needed help throughout her journey from family and colleagues. Cathy Steckel, director of nursing operations at Memorial Medical Center, tells SJ-R.com, “Her story certainly speaks to the passion she has for nursing. She’s an integral part of a great nursing team at Memorial.”
Now on a path to becoming a nurse practitioner, Lewis is on track to finish her doctorate degree in nursing in 2021. To learn more about Faye Lewis and her inspiring career journey, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Ashley Apple, a nursing student at the University of Virginia (UVA) who gathered a team of caregivers to travel to Texas and help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Apple, 38, was the owner of a coffee shop in Arkansas when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the people and homes of New Orleans in 2005. Feeling helpless as she watched the news coverage of the storm’s aftermath, she decided to sell her coffee shop, enroll in nursing school, and never feel helpless again while witnessing the tragedy of a natural disaster.
Apple is currently enrolled in her second year of the UVA School of Nursing’s RN to BSN program which offers working nurses a path to a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She also works as a floating emergency nurse for Bon Secours health system, and leaps in to help whenever she can, like in the case of Hurricane Harvey.
Apple tells News.Virginia.edu, “Katrina really sealed the deal for me. Sure, I loved the things that you love about a coffee shop – the art, the music, the people, the connections you make – but in the end, I was still counting cups. I wanted to do more in service to my community.”
As she watched Hurricane Harvey begin to take its toll on Texas, Apple rallied a small group of fellow caregivers, purchased first aid kits and supplies to bring along, and hopped on a flight to Dallas. Her team included her mother (a fellow nurse), a small group of local nursing students, and Bon Secours staff. The group spent five days making rounds to Houston shelters to provide well-being checks, offering care to individuals with chronic medical conditions, and vaccinating first responders against tetanus, diphtheria, and hepatitis.
During Hurricane Harvey, Apple no longer felt like a helpless bystander the way she had during Katrina. She says, “The most amazing part for me was feeling useful.” Apple loves the work she does, and she is proud to show her two children, ages 3 and 5, how nurses can be of help at the bedside, at the disaster site, and in front of the classroom inspiring new learners. After finishing her BSN, Apple plans to work toward her master’s degree then Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. She has grown to love academia in her time at UVA, and she has a passion for teaching that she is excited to put to use in the future.
To learn more about Ashley Apple and her unique path to a career in nursing, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Calvin Kennedy, a Nurse Team Leader in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) Post-Anesthesia Care Unit. As a two-time kidney transplant recipient, Kennedy joined Team Mountain in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to showcase the power of organ donation.
Kennedy joined Team Mountain to help raise awareness for kidney disease and the power of living, proving that deceased-donation gives recipients a second chance at life. He made the trip to Tanzania, Africa over the summer with 11 other members of Team Mountain who were motivated to bring awareness to organ donation.
Unfortunately, Kennedy was an hour and a half into the last climb when his body wouldn’t let him climb any further. Suffering from torn ligaments in one of his knees and intestinal parasites he acquired while climbing, Kennedy was exhausted and in excruciating pain at 17,000 feet above sea level with only three miles left to go. Disappointed but aware that he would be endangering his teammates by continuing, Kennedy knew it was time to turn around, and that reaching the summit was not the ultimate message he was trying to send. He tells UAB.edu:
“I wanted to show people that, when you do get a transplant, you can live and live well and do things – do great things. And if you donate an organ as a living donor or a deceased donor, you can help someone live a productive and exciting life. I think this accomplished that. I hope I did.”
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. 35,000 tourists attempt the climb every year, but only about half of them make it to the peak. Kennedy is proud of his teammates who did make it to the summit and the entire team’s efforts to prove the power of organ donation.
To learn more about Kennedy’s experience climbing Mount Kilimanjaro alongside Team Mountain, visit here.
A recent encounter between Nurse Alex Wubbels and a police officer who arrested Wubbels for refusing to let the officer draw blood from an unconscious crash victim led the Utah hospital to make changes to their protocol. According to The New York Times, nurses at the hospital will no longer deal directly with law enforcement officers as part of the new policy. Officers will be asked to check in at the front desk and interact with a supervisor who is trained in law and hospital policy.
“What I can say is that I stood my ground. I stood for what was right, which was to protect the patient. As a nurse, any nurse, I think, would have done exactly what I did.”
Wubbels was the charge nurse on the burn unit at the University of Utah Hospital where the unconscious crash victim was being treated. The man was not a suspect in the wreck which killed another driver, but police asked for his blood to be drawn. Hospital policy states that police need a judge’s order or the patient’s consent, or the patient must be under arrest before obtaining a blood sample. After citing hospital policy and refusing to allow police to draw blood from the patient, Detective Jeff Payne handcuffed Wubbels and placed her in a police car. Wubbels was later released without charge.
The arrest was captured on body-cam video and has prompted apologies from the Salt Lake City mayor and police department. The new hospital protocol regarding nurse interactions with law enforcement was announced this week by Margaret Pearce, chief nursing officer at the hospital, hospital leadership, and the university’s police chief. Pearce tells MSN.com, “I need to make sure this never, ever, ever happens to another one of our care providers again.”
The change in hospital policy will allow nurses to focus on caring for their patients, and 2,500 nurses have since been trained on the new protocol. University of Utah Hospital CEO Gordon Crabtree praised Wubbels for acting with integrity and professionalism while risking her own safety to ensure the privacy of her patient. Discussing the incident with MSN.com, Wubbels recalls: “What I can say is that I stood my ground. I stood for what was right, which was to protect the patient. As a nurse, any nurse, I think, would have done exactly what I did.”
To learn more about the hospital’s decision to change their protocol following Wubbels’ arrest, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Elaine Larson, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAPIC, associate dean for research at Columbia Nursing, who was one of five nurse leaders recently named a ‘Living Legend’ by the American Academy of Nursing (AAN). The Living Legend designation is awarded to nurses who have led exceptionally accomplished careers as trailblazers in nursing and health care.
Dr. Larson is the first member of Columbia Nursing to receive the prestigious Living Legend distinction. Her career has focused on infection prevention, antimicrobial resistance, and hand hygiene, and her contributions have emphasized the importance of infection prevention and hand hygiene for all health care professionals. Academy President and Dean of Columbia University School of Nursing Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, tells Nursing.Columbia.edu:
“As Dean of Columbia University School of Nursing, it is an honor to see this distinction bestowed upon Elaine Larson. Dr. Larson has dedicated her professional career to fostering nursing research as well as to mentoring our future nurse scientists. Her contributions to our profession are felt far and wide, particularly in the fields of infection prevention, antimicrobial resistance, and hand hygiene. She exemplifies leadership.”
To be eligible for the Living Legend distinction, recipients must have been an Academy Fellow for at least 15 years and have demonstrated sustained contributions to nursing and health care. Larson will officially receive the honor at AAN’s annual policy conference in October. To learn more about Dr. Larson and the other 2017 Living Legend recipients, visit here.