Our Nurse of the Week is Maria Elena Valdez, a first-generation community health worker who is preparing to graduate from nursing school at the end of this year and embark on her career as a nurse.
Valdez was born in Eagle Pass, Texas to seasonal immigrant workers from Coahulla, Mexico. She traveled between Mexico and the US with her parents when she was young while her father worked in Wisconsin fields in the summers and then took his family to Mexico each winter when the work season ended. Her parents had a better plan for her future so they eventually settled in San Antonio, which now feels like home to Valdez.
During her junior of high school, Valdez started volunteering for the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Pathway to Health Professions program, which is housed under the Policy Studies Center within the UTSA College of Public Policy. She earned her associate’s degree from Northeast Lakeview College and enrolled at UTSA in fall 2017 where she studied to earn her certification as a community health worker. She can now practice in the field while she works to obtain her bachelor’s degree.
Valdez is currently leveraging her Community Health Worker certification at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio where she counsels emergency room patients so that they leave the hospital with better awareness of the resources available to them at home. She will graduate from UTSA in December with her Bachelor’s of Science in Community Health from the College of Education and Human Development.
Miguel Bedolla, the director of the UTSA Health Career Opportunity Program, tells utsa.edu, “Maria Elena is absolutely committed to serving the population of San Antonio, she has already been certified by the State of Texas as a Community Health Worker through the Pathways to Health Professions Program, she is one of the best students in the program and is unwaveringly committed to be an excellent nursing professional.”
To learn more about Maria Elena Valdez, a first-generation community health worker who is preparing to graduate from nursing school at the end of this year and embark on her career as a nurse, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Karin
Huster, a Seattle-based nurse and field coordinator for Doctors Without Borders.
Huster spends six to 12 weeks at a time away from home, helping the world’s
most vulnerable populations. Most recently she was in the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC) helping battle Ebola outbreaks.
Even though she regularly encounters dying patients, Huster tells seattletimes.com, “It’s the best job in the world. And I don’t mean this lightly…My goal in life is nothing else but to try to improve people’s lives.”
Ebola has killed over 2,000
individuals and sickened almost 3,000 individuals in the DRC since August 2018.
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency
in July 2019 while Huster was on her fourth trip there.
Helping those in need has been
Huster’s dream since she was a child. She grew up on Réunion
Island, a French island in the Indian Ocean, and in 1991 she moved to Seattle
for a job translating English to French for Microsoft. Feeling unfulfilled, she
left her job at Microsoft to enroll in nursing school at the University of
Washington (UW). She spent eight years as a nurse in the intensive care unit at
Harborview Medical Center before going back to UW to earn her master’s degree
in global health. In 2012, Huster went to Lebanon on a trip with UW to work
with Syrian refugees. It was there that she found her passion for traveling to
help the world’s most vulnerable populations.
learn more about Karin
Huster, a Seattle-based nurse and field coordinator for Doctors Without Borders
who considers her job battling Ebola outbreaks in Africa the “best job in the
world,” visit here.
of the Week is Czarina
Cecilio, a 33-year-old registered nurse (RN) at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Multiple Myeloma
Center in New York City. Multiple myeloma (MM) is a type of bone marrow
cancer and in addition to performing her nursing duties, Cecilio is also
responsible for a lot of paperwork because the medication administered to many MM
patients is experiencing a national drug shortage.
Cecilio works 10-hour shifts on a regular basis,
helping keep her patients comfortable in the midst of this drug shortage. Cecilio’s
role at the Multiple Myeloma Center is Clinical Nurse Liaison. She serves as
head RN of the practice and her responsibilities include educating patients on their therapy regimen and helping them get
medication, supervising medical technicians, and keeping the clinic workflow
However, she also spends a lot of
time on the phone with manufacturers and drug providers in an effort to secure
treatment for her patients. Many MM patients are treated with an intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG),
but production for the medication has slowed, causing increased demand.
Cecilio tells businessinsider.com, “With myeloma, it’s an incurable disease, [but] it’s treatable, so that’s why we see these patients all the time. You get to build a relationship with these patients.”
Cecilio didn’t always want to be a nurse. She received
her undergraduate degree in anthropology and then decided to go into medical
research. She eventually ended up in an entry level nursing job as a medical
technician, but found herself unable to answer many of her patients’ questions regarding
their care, so she decided to go to nursing school. Now, she loves her work as
a nurse in the multiple myeloma clinic because it allows her to form bonds with
patients who are typically receiving long-term treatment.
To learn more about Czarina Cecilio, a registered
nurse at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Multiple Myeloma Center in New York City,
read Business Insider’s coverage of their day spent shadowing her here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Jennifer Pettis, the associate director of the long-term care program at NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) in the New York University (NYU) College of Nursing. Pettis was recently named an Alzheimer’s Ambassador to Senator Chuck Schumer.
Pettis is an expert on aging and healthcare. As an Alzheimer’s Ambassador, she will attend the annual Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum in Washington, DC, as well as several district meetings with Senator Schumer’s office. She will also lead the activities of her local Alzheimer’s Congressional Team, a group of highly engaged advocates.
Pettis tells nursing.nyu.edu, “There are 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to grow to 7.1 million by 2050. In short, Alzheimer’s disease is a public health crisis, and the time to act is now. Not only do we need to find a cure for this devastating disease, but we also need to support those afflicted by it and their caregivers as we work toward a cure. Additionally, we need to ensure that health systems are prepared to provide person-centered, quality care to individuals living with Alzheimer’s.”
Alzheimer’s Ambassadors are volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, working to develop and advance policies to overcome Alzheimer’s disease through increased investment in research, enhanced care, and improved support. They serve as the main point of contact for specific members of Congress for issues related to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Pettis joined NYU Nursing and NICHE in 2018 and brings over 25 years of healthcare experience as a nurse, nurse researcher, educator, and consultant working to improve healthcare for older adults with her.
To learn more about Jennifer Pettis, the associate director of the long-term care program at NYU Nursing who was recently named an Alzheimer’s Ambassador to Senator Chuck Schumer, visit here.
of the Week is Kayla
Miller, a critical care nurse from Dayton, Ohio who performed CPR
on victims of the shooting that occurred early on the morning of August 4.
Miller was fleeing the Ned Peppers Bar after hearing gunfire ringing out when
she spotted victims who had been shot. Putting her own life in danger, Miller
stopped to perform CPR on the wounded victims on the sidewalk.
Miller was at the Ned Peppers Bar celebrating a friend’s 25th
birthday. As she was attempting to flee the scene for her own safety, she felt
compelled to stop and help in any way she could. According to Miller, chaos
ensued after hundreds of people in the area heard the shots.
Miller tells NBC’s TODAY, “I look down the sidewalk and see just a row of bodies. People shot, some alive, some not. I’m grateful to be able to be alive and talk to my family and friends and tell them I’m OK, but my heart breaks for these families.”
Nine people were killed in the shooting and 27 were injured
after a 24-year-old opened fire outside the Ned Peppers Bar in the city’s
popular Oregon district just after one o’clock in the morning. It was the
second mass shooting in the United States in less than 24 hours, following a
shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas the day before that left 20 people
To learn more
about Kayla Miller, a critical care nurse who performed CPR on victims
of the Dayton, Ohio shooting on August 4, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Martha
Dawson, DNP, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing who has been
elected to serve as president of the National
Black Nurses Association (NBNA), Inc.
Dawson will serve a
two-year term as the organization’s 13th president. She was recently sworn in
during the annual NBNA Institute and Conference in New Orleans in late July.
She is also a member of the Birmingham Black Nurses Association chapter of NBNA.
According to birminghamtimes.com,
the NBNA’s mission is “to serve as the voice for black
nurses and diverse populations ensuring equal access to professional
development, promoting educational opportunities and improving health.”
Dawson’s career in
nursing spans more than 40 years. She is a two-time graduate of the UAB School
of Nursing and a member of the UAB School of Nursing faculty since 2008. She
has led the highly ranked graduate nursing administration specialty track at
UAB and served in a number of roles, including principal investigator for a Health
Resources and Services Administration workforce investment grant.
Dawson tells birminghamtimes.com, “I am prepared, ready and willing to serve and guide NBNA into the future and place the organization on the global stage as knowledgeable, professional nursing leaders. I firmly support NBNA’s commitment to serve African American communities, increase the number of African American nurses, and improve equity, equality and inclusivity in health education, service, practice and research.”
The NBNA was created
by Dr. Lauranne Sams, former dean of the Tuskegee University School of Nursing,
in 1971. It is a nonprofit organization, which represents 150,000 African
American registered nurses, licensed vocational/practical nurses, nursing students, and retired
nurses from the US, Eastern Caribbean, and Africa, with 92 chartered chapters
in 35 states.
To learn more about Martha
Dawson, DNP, an assistant professor at the UAB
School of Nursing who has been elected to serve as president of the National
Black Nurses Association, visit here.