Our Nurse of the Week is Yolanda Nelson, an alumna and nursing professor at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) who created a proven system to keep black nursing students in school. Her program Moving Forward Together was launched as a mentorship program to help black nursing students overcome barriers to entry in the nursing profession.
The US is rapidly growing more diverse, making the care provided by nurses of color especially valuable. According to Nelson, people of color often seek medical care with providers who are of the same race or ethnic background.
The number of black nurses is low at most healthcare facilities and black students comprise a small portion of nursing students nationwide. This is largely due to barriers to entry including inadequate academic preparation in high school and a lack of diverse faculty in the field.
Nelson tells news.tcnj.edu, “As a student at TCNJ, I didn’t have any role models who looked like me. It would have helped if I had a mentor to encourage me.”
Nelson has thrived as a case manager and practicing clinician and served in leadership roles at several hospitals in New Jersey throughout her career. She has personally witnessed a lack of mentoring as another road block to increasing diversity in nursing and healthcare.
To help address this issue, Nelson launched Moving Forward Together when she joined TCNJ’s faculty in 2017. Moving Forward Together is a mentorship program that matches TCNJ’s black nursing students with working black nurse mentors, some of whom are alumni. Mentors are “someone they can lean on” in dealing with a professor, developing study skills, or finding their first job. So far, Nelson has matched 30 students with mentors and has seen six participants graduate.
To learn more about olanda Nelson, an alumna and nursing professor at The College of New Jersey who created a proven system to keep black nursing students in school, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Tara
Fankhauser, a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta who crochets Halloween
costumes for the NICU babies in her care. This is the fourth year in a row that
she’s spent months crocheting costumes for the hospital’s tiniest patients.
Fankhauser is a mom of three in
addition to being a NICU nurse. She takes time every year to make the Halloween
costumes herself. According to her coworker Alanna Gardner, Fankhauser uses
Pinterest and the baby’s different personalities to decide on the perfect
costume for them. She usually begins designing the costumes in the Spring and
ends on Halloween day.
Fankhauser never repeats a costume. The
costumes take anywhere from a few hours to a full day to make. The costumes are
gifts; families are able to take them home as keepsakes of their child’s first Halloween.
Holidays can be particularly hard for families with children in the NICU, which
is why Fankhauser goes to the effort of bringing the Halloween spirit to the
hospital’s tiniest patients.
Gardner tells fox5atlanta.com, “What started out as a hobby has quickly become a hospital tradition that brings joy to our families and staff.”
To learn more about Tara Fankhauser, a
neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
who crochets Halloween costumes for the hospital’s tiniest patients, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Annie Dyke, a school nurse at Madison County Central School who helped save an eighth-grade boy after his heart stopped during gym class.
M.J. Crumity was in the middle of a game of dodgeball in gym class when his pacemaker quit working. He collapsed on the floor and went into cardiac arrest. The coach first called the school’s resource officer, Sgt. Joey Knight, for help.
When Knight arrived, Crumity was lying unresponsive on the gym floor. Knight is a trained emergency medical technician, so he immediately began CPR until Nurse Annie arrived with an automatic external defibrillator.
They applied the defibrillator while Knight continued compressions. Once Crumity was responsive again, he was taken to the hospital and further treated there.
Crumity has a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which the heart muscle is too thick and makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood. He underwent open heart surgery at three years old to install a pacemaker. For some reason his pacemaker didn’t work on this day during gyn class though, and without the quick response of Knight and Dyke, he may not have survived.
Dyke tells cnn.com, “[Crumity is] a walking miracle. He is here for a reason and I hope whatever he wants, that his dreams come true.”
To learn more about Annie Dyke, a school nurse at Madison County Central School who helped save an eighth-grade boy after his heart stopped during gym class, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Sharon Fickley, a Labor and Delivery nurse at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital who recently delivered three of her own grandchildren over the course of 36 hours. Fickley has been delivering babies for over 25 years, but delivering her own grandchildren was a truly special experience.
Fickley began her nursing career at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital and her coworkers have since become like family to her. Their bond was put to the test when Fickley’s grandchildren were born at the same hospital over a 36 hour period.
Nurse Samantha Spiker, who helped with the delivery, tells nbc29.com, “As soon as the babies were born she had turned around and started crying – we all started crying because it was just one of those moments.”
Fickley says she and her family weren’t sure when the babies would be born. They knew their births would all be close but had no idea they would be as close as 36 hours apart. The three babies included two twin boys and one girl who were all born healthy. Fickley now has 8 grandchildren.
To learn more about Sharon Fickley, a Labor and Delivery nurse at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital who recently delivered three of her own grandchildren over the course of 36 hours, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Sara
Croley, a University of Tennessee (UT) College of Nursing alumna who
recently gave a $7.5 million donation to the university, making it the largest
donation in the college’s history. Croley hopes her donation will go toward ‘investing
in the future of nursing,’ ultimately helping to decrease the burden of current
nationwide nursing shortages. The donation was made in partnership with Croley’s
husband, Ross Croley.
to UT officials, $5.5 million of the donation will support the College of
Nursing’s building renovations, and $2 million will establish the Sara
Rosenbalm Croley Endowed Dean’s Chair. The $60 million renovation project will
allow the college to increase enrollment. The college has had to turn away
qualified applicants in the past due to a lack of space and resources.
Croley tells WBIR.com, “Having worked as a nurse for many years, I have cared for people during some of their most difficult moments. Nurses play such an important role in people’s lives. Ross and I are investing in the future of nursing in Tennessee. We hope this gift opens a door of opportunity for many more amazing nurses to enter the workforce.”
US Bureau of Labor predicts a nationwide shortage of 1.2 million registered
nurses between 2014 and 2022. According to UT, the majority of Bachelor of
Science in Nursing students work in Tennessee after graduation, with an
estimated 45 to 60 percent remaining in the Knoxville area specifically. Pending approval from the UT Board of Trustees, the
renovated nursing building will be named the Croley Nursing Building. It’s
projected to be about 100,000 square feet, more than twice the size of the
To learn more about Sara Croley, a University of Tennessee College
of Nursing alumna who recently gave a $7.5 million donation to the university to ‘invest in the future of nursing,’ visit here.
Nurse of the Week is Mady
Howard, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at Intermountain Healthcare’s
Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah, who says the unpredictable
nature of working in the ICU helped her train to be on ‘American
advanced to the ‘American Ninja Warrior’ finals in Las Vegas during filming in
August, and competed to win the $1 million grand prize. The final four episodes
aired throughout September, and although Howard didn’t win, she says she will
be back for more in the future.
collegiate career as a gymnast helped Howard prepare physically, but she says
the intensity of being an ICU nurse has prepared her mentally for the challenge
of competing on a reality competition show. Contestants aren’t allowed to
practice on the ninja warrior course so their first time on the course is in
front of an audience as they make split-second decisions in high-pressure
situations on an unfamiliar course. To Howard, it feels much like her day-to-day
job in the ICU.
Howard tells modernhealthcare.com, “Life can change so quickly and it motivated me to not stand still and be grateful for every moment I have.”
Finding a passion outside of her demanding 12-hour shifts in the
ICU has also helped Howard become a better healthcare provider. She finds fulfillment
in the training and it makes her a more confident provider for her vulnerable
To learn more about Mady Howard, an ICU nurse who says the
unpredictable nature of working in the ICU helped her train to be on ‘American
Ninja Warrior,’ visit here.