Nurses of the Week: Penn Nursing Grads Fundraise Scholarship for Midwives of Color

Nurses of the Week: Penn Nursing Grads Fundraise Scholarship for Midwives of Color

Our Nurses of the Week are the student nurses of the University of Pennsylvania Nurse-Midwifery program who have created a scholarship for midwives of color. Each class of the program delivers a class gift to their professors prior to graduation like artwork or a charity donation, but the Class of 2017 decided to try something unconventional.

The students reported that their inspiration came from looking around their own classroom and realizing that only two students out of the 21 person class were students of color. Nursing graduate Kateryn Nunez, one of the two students of color in her graduating class, tells, “The point of the scholarship is to address the fact that over 95 percent of midwives in the US are white, whereas the people they care for, the majority are people of color, are poor people, are immigrants, LGBTQ.”

Midwives provide a personalized approach to childbirth for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies. This was originally a common practice among black and immigrant populations but a stigma around home births discouraged people from communities of color from going into the field. As the “natural birth” movement gained popularity in recent decades, it created a racial imbalance in the profession that still exists today.

One of the largest barriers to entry for students of color to become midwives is affordability, which is why the 2017 Penn Nurse-Midwife class decided to create their scholarship. They have raised over $11,000 through grassroots fundraising from friends and family but have a total goal of $125,000. If they reach their goal, Penn will contribute an additional $25,000.

These students hope that their efforts will send a message to other universities about the importance of their scholarship. To learn more about Penn’s Nurse-Midwife program, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: Registered Nurse Pamela Assid Donates Portion of Liver to Young Girl with Rare Disease

Nurse of the Week: Registered Nurse Pamela Assid Donates Portion of Liver to Young Girl with Rare Disease

Our Nurse of the Week is Pamela Assid, registered nurse and director of emergency services at Sky Ridge Medical Center, who donated a portion of her liver to a young girl with a rare disease. As a nurse, Assid has devoted her life to helping others, but her dedication reaches far beyond her work.

Assid first learned about 7-year-old Addilyn Hawks’ need for a liver transplant from the girl’s uncle who Assid oversees in the emergency department. Hawks was diagnosed with a rare liver disease at 10 months old and her family knew early on that she would need a transplant in the future. When Hawks’ jaundice came back last year, her doctors realized her liver was failing and placed her on a donor list.

Hawks’ family began exploring the option of a live donor and when the parents were eliminated, they started asking family. Her uncle at Sky Ridge turned out to be the best candidate, which was when Assid discovered that she carried the same blood type and asked if she could be put on the list as a potential donor. The family jumped at the idea and Assid was determined to be the best fit for a liver donor.

Assid tells, “I guess I thought that if that was my daughter, I would want to give her every possible opportunity to have somebody that could potentially be a match…To have the opportunity to change somebody’s life while I’m still living, that’s incredible to me.”

Both patients are now well into recovery and Assid has become an honorary part of their family thanks to her lifesaving donation. To learn more about Assid’s decision to go beyond her normal nursing duties and volunteer to donate a portion of her liver to a young patient, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: Yale School of Nursing Dean Ann Kurth Brings Healthcare to Africa

Nurse of the Week: Yale School of Nursing Dean Ann Kurth Brings Healthcare to Africa

Our Nurse of the Week is Yale University School of Nursing Dean Ann Kurth, PhD, CNM, MPH, FAAN, who wants everyone to understand the vital importance of nurses and midwifes to healthcare systems around the globe, especially in developing regions like sub-Saharan Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 80% of all healthcare worldwide is delivered by nurses and midwives. The National Academy of Medicine also says that in the US, improving the health system will rely on allowing nurses to practice to the full scope of their training.

Kurth tells, “Every day, nursing has a ripple effect in the world, given how critical and central the role is to the health of individuals, families, communities, and entire nations. In a community, there are no sustainable pathways to economic prosperity without health, and there’s no health without nurses and midwives.”

Kurth advocates for a nursing school mission comprised of three parts: furthering education, conducting scientific research, and performing service at the local, national, and international levels. Yale’s work in sub-Saharan Africa embodies this three-legged approach and nursing’s essential role in delivering health care.

According to, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 12% of the world’s population, 23%-26% of its disease burden, but less than 1% of world health expenditures. This is why delivering healthcare and education to this region is so essential, and why Yale School of Nursing faculty and students have worked in Africa in areas including HIV, palliative care, oncology, and reproductive health.

To learn more about the Yale School of Nursing’s impact in sub-Saharan Africa, visit here.

Nurses of the Week: Illinois State University Nursing Students Work in Schools to Inspire Healthy Habits

Nurses of the Week: Illinois State University Nursing Students Work in Schools to Inspire Healthy Habits

Our Nurses of the Week are the undergraduate nursing students in the Illinois State University (ISU) Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) who are working their clinical hours in schools to help improve the lives of young people by inspiring healthy habits at an early age.

These clinical hours are being completed through MCN’s award winning pediatric and public health clinical experience called America’s Promise Schools Project. America’s Promise provides clinical experiences for 90 nursing seniors each fall, sending seven to eight students to each of the 23 sites in six schools districts across three counties in Central Illinois.

The community health initiative combines engagement and real-world training, allowing schools to receive help in teaching students how to live healthy lifestyles while nursing students gain clinical experience in a public health setting. The many projects that have been initiated across Central Illinois are focused around the core areas of oral health, obesity, and mental health. Past programs have included teaching mindfulness exercises to teach elementary students how to be kinder to each other and assisting rural high schools with their suicide prevention efforts.

MCN understands the importance of clinical hours for nursing students. Assistant Professor Carla Pohl, director of America’s Promise, tells, “Not only are they getting the experience in the school, but they are seeing what community nursing looks like. The project helps the students learn what the reality is. It helps them learn what the community resources are.”

America’s Promise was introduced to local schools in 2011. Last year, the program received the Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), recognizing the outstanding work of AACN schools to re-envision traditional models for nursing education and lead programmatic change.

To learn more about MCN’s America’s Promise Schools Project to inspire healthy habits for children, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: Tennessee Nurse Saman Perera Fights Healthcare Inequality through Doctors Without Borders

Nurse of the Week: Tennessee Nurse Saman Perera Fights Healthcare Inequality through Doctors Without Borders

Our Nurse of the Week is Saman Perera, a Tennessee-native nurse fighting healthcare inequality through Doctors Without Borders. Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Hendersonville, TN, Perera decided to join Doctors Without Borders after graduating from nursing school and is now setting an example for his community on how to get involved in global humanitarian efforts.

After attending the University of Illinois for his bachelor’s degree in nursing and Vanderbilt University for his master’s degree, Perera embarked on his first mission to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake to help with the cholera outbreak there. His missions have also taken him to work in primary care in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to the frontlines of Chad treating war-wounded victims.

However, Perera was most recently stationed on a two-month medical mission in Bentiu, South Sudan, working in a refugee camp hospital made up of 130,000 residents. The camp was created as a result of a civil war breakout in the area. Although his missions often take him to volatile, war-torn environments lacking housing and running water, Perera says the toughest aspect of his job is managing the emotions involved. Perera has found that the best way to cope with the emotions of treating victims of war is to focus on task-oriented jobs like training local nurses.

For Perera, his work with Doctors Without Borders goes beyond just nursing and medicine. He tells, “I realized that medicine, for me, is a Band-Aid to something a lot bigger; we’re talking wars, huge injustices, malnutrition in countries like Congo. For me, my presence there and the presence of Doctors Without Borders is more than medicine, it’s a way of saying injustice is not okay.”

Perera recently moved to Knoxville, TN after returning from his two-month mission in South Sudan. He plans to work as a hospital nurse practitioner while he prepares for another Doctors Without Borders mission trip. In his spare time, Perera encourages other current and future healthcare workers to get involved in global aid and serve those in need.

To learn more about Perera’s time as a medical mission nurse for Doctors Without Borders, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: From Associate’s Degree to DNP, Illinois State Nursing Alum Michael Gnidovec Reaches Higher

Nurse of the Week: From Associate’s Degree to DNP, Illinois State Nursing Alum Michael Gnidovec Reaches Higher

Our Nurse of the Week is Michael Gnidovec, born and raised near Peru, Illinois, who began his nursing journey at Illinois Valley Community College. After finishing his two-year associate’s degree in nursing, Gnidovec joined the nursing workforce before going on to pursue his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, continuing to reach higher after achieving each new goal.

While working two jobs as a nurse at a nearby hospital and part-time school nurse, Gnidovec decided he wanted to do more with his nursing career and began exploring RN to BSN programs. Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing stood out to him because you can complete the online RN to BSN program in as little as one year.

Gnidovec tells, “I was working two jobs, actually. I worked full-time at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Spring Valley as a medical-surgical and pediatric nurse, and I also worked part-time as a school nurse for Peru Public Schools. I was lucky — in that area of Illinois, because it is small, most employers don’t require bachelor’s degrees.”

Thanks to help and support from his professors, Gnidovec was able to work two jobs while going to school full time. Gnidovec found that the things he was learning applied directly to the work he was doing, allowing him to put his clinical work as a nurse into context. The public health course work was particularly impactful for Gnidovec as a lot of associate’s degree programs lack exposure in that area.

After completing his BSN, Gnidovec went on to earn his master’s degree in nursing with a clinical nurse leader focus from Rush University. He also recently started St. Francis Medical Center College of Nursing’s post-master’s certificate in adult gerontology clinical nurse specialist. However, he’s not stopping there. Gnidovec is now exploring Doctor of Nursing Practice programs and thinking about returning to Mennonite College of Nursing for their online DNP program.

Thankful for everything his nursing education has given him, Gnidovec tells, “Having a bachelor’s degree made me marketable. The skills I learned in the RN to BSN program at Illinois State allow me to be an effective leader. I can navigate policy changes and understand the reasons behind them. I can see things from the perspective of both upper management and my peers. I appreciate evidence-based practice.”

With his master’s degree under his belt, Gnidovec currently works at Mayo Clinic as a charge nurse. To learn more about Gnidovec’s path to nursing, visit here.

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