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.
Our Nurse of the Week is Kayla McMillan, 28, a labor and delivery nurse at the Duke Birthing Center in Durham who has been gifting maternity photo shoots to pregnant mothers on hospital bed rest. She was inspired by her own experience giving birth to her daughter, Emma, at just 25 weeks due to eclampsia.
Emma is now a healthy 1-year old, but McMillan remembers what it was like to have to cancel her baby shower and maternity photo shoot, fun things she had been looking forward to and things that usually accompany a normal pregnancy. McMillan tells InsideEdition.com:
“It was really surreal just because I work in a place where things happen like this all the time. I am a nurse and I never thought something like that would happen to me. It’s humbling because now I can help moms in the same position that I was in.”
McMillan likes to practice photography as a hobby and decided she wanted to give something to mothers at Duke University Hospital who were going through something similar to what she experienced. She teamed up with co-worker Samantha Duncan to create their first maternity photo shoot in April for a mom confined to her hospital bed.
Duncan is in charge of hair and makeup for the women, while McMillan wheels them out into a beautiful courtyard on Duke’s campus for the photo shoots. The duo has since done six photo shoots, giving pregnant mothers on bed rest something to cherish from the difficult experience.
To learn more about McMillan’s career as a labor and delivery nurse and new hobby taking maternity photos for women on her unit, visit here.
Our Nurses of the Week are Sabrina Kopf, ACNP-BC, and her husband and fellow DNP student Scott Kopf, ACNP-BC, who recently graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. They are the first husband-wife team to earn their doctorates simultaneously as part of UAB’s Post-MSN to DNP Pathway program.
Scott and Sabrina share a lot in common. They are both acute care nurse practitioners, both work with transplant patients at UAB hospital (Scott with lung transplant patients and Sabrina with heart transplant patients), and are both adjunct clinical instructors in the school’s Master of Science in Nursing Program, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Specialty Track.
The couple first met in 2007 at UAB Hospital where Scott would bring patients from the Emergency Department to Sabrina on the Trauma and Burn Intensive Care Unit. They eventually started dating in 2009, then married in 2011, and have now graduated together during UAB’s 2017 summer commencement ceremony and doctoral hooding which was held on August 12.
Scott tells UAB.edu, “As nurse practitioners, we both saw the need for the DNP degree because it would give us more skills to improve patient outcomes and help us have more impact on health care as a whole. We thought it would be good to go together because we knew we would have a good support system throughout the DNP program and at home.”
Their built-in buddy system while completing their DNP was beneficial to both, allowing them to provide encouragement, support, and feedback when they needed it. A unique relationship for two nurses following similar career paths, they treasure their bond as husband and wife, and as nurses and students. To learn more about Sabrina and Scott’s shared path to nursing, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is newlywed and new nurse Deanna Pavil who received a big surprise just two days after finding out she was pregnant – she had also been accepted to nursing school at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Pavil was aware of the challenges that would come with juggling pregnancy and a newborn with a rigorous nursing school schedule and didn’t know how to make the right decision. However, her parents encouraged her to follow her dreams and she is now graduated and working as a registered nurse in the outpatient clinics at Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation.
“I enjoyed working in medical records, but knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to do more to help people and make a difference in their lives. The same week I quit my job, I got a phone call about the CNA class.”
Pavil had known she wanted to pursue a career in healthcare since high school when her family traveled to Anchorage for her grandmother’s open-heart surgery. After high school, she worked in medical records at Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital for four years, then started taking classes to become a certified nurse aid (CNA). It was then that she realized her true calling to become a nurse, and later graduated from UAF with an associate of applied science degree in nursing in December 2016.
In an interview with News.UAF.edu, Pavil says, “I enjoyed working in medical records, but knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to do more to help people and make a difference in their lives. The same week I quit my job, I got a phone call about the CNA class.”
Pavil was thankful for her CNA experience which made the transition into nursing school much easier. It gave her the training and academic foundation needed to succeed in a challenging nursing school program, but she also couldn’t have graduated without the help of her husband and parents who took time off to help care for her son Bennett. Now that she is a working nurse, Pavil says the best part of her nursing work is helping people in her community.
Thank you, Deanna, for showing other nurses that it’s possible to pursue personal and professional goals simultaneously if you’re willing to put in the hard work. To learn more about Pavil and her experience tackling nursing school and a new family at the same time, visit here.