1. Freda, Margaret Comerford EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN

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Sometimes you don't have a choice, and I had no choice about being hospitalized. We all know that being a patient in a hospital is necessary sometimes, but never fun. You lose your freedom and your sense of control while simultaneously being sick and somewhat helpless. And that's not even mentioning the loss of privacy. But we also know that the saving grace in any hospitalization is the staff nurses. I was recently an inpatient, and it gave me the opportunity to watch staff nurses work, up close and personal. I always assume that nurses will be knowledgeable and professional, but even I was touched and amazed at how skilled and concerned my nurses were. They were almost all young women (just a few young men), and they were universally competent and caring. As I watched and listened to them work, I saw and heard what a difference they made in the lives of their patients every single day, and every single night. As I became less ill, I engaged many of them in conversations about their profession and their future in it. Most had plans to go on to graduate school, and clear plans for their futures. Some newer nurses were still finding their way, deciding whether staff nursing was their future, and what specialty they truly loved. Some wanted to become nurse practitioners, some were interested in management, some in becoming educators. Most were planning to become certified if they weren't certified already. I wondered whether this large group of staff nurses was somehow different from those on other units, but then I realized that I was in a magnet hospital, and I knew what that meant. The nursing leadership there was superior, and being a patient there really drove that point home. The nursing leadership at Huntington Hospital expected that the nurses would become certified and attain an advanced degree, and made it clear that education for the nurses was a top priority. I have always believed that when the nursing leaders expect greatness, they are more likely to get it. What I saw in action during my hospitalization was nursing leadership letting the nurses know they are valued for how much they know now, and also for what they will learn in the future, for they know that the patients are the recipients of excellent care when these values are emphasized.


I believe strongly that leadership such as this is key to the future of nursing. When much is expected of us, we will produce. I'm so proud of all the nurses who took care of me because they demonstrated all the values needed in a nurse. It would take this entire space to name all the wonderful nurses who cared for me during my time in the hospital, so I won't try to do it. I'll just say that the nurses were superior. And it was not just the staff nurses on 3 North who excelled. When I found myself in interventional radiology in a difficult situation in which I felt I wasn't being heard, two incredible people swept into the room and I immediately knew that they were nurses. They came right to me, assessed the problem, and fixed it. Of course they did. They were nurses.


I'd also read about a generational difference in how nurses delivered care, (Lavoie-Tremblay et al., 2010), with some suggesting that younger nurses are somehow less dedicated to or connected to their patients. I saw none of that. The nurses on 3 North at Huntington Hospital are great team of nurses, and I'm sure are representative of the larger world of productive, hardworking, knowledgeable nurses who connect with, and focus on their patients. If given the choice about how to check in on the practice of staff nurses in 2010, I wouldn't have chosen hospitalization, but since the hospitalization happened, I feel privileged to have seen up close and personal the incredible work that staff nurses do every day, and what a difference they make in the lives of their patients. Thank you, 3 North nurses. I'm so proud to be in the same profession with you.




Lavoie-Tremblay, M., Paquet, M., Duchesne, M. A., Santo, A., Gavrancic, A., Courcy, F., & Gagnon, S. (2010). Retaining nurses and other hospital workers: An intergenerational perspective of the work climate. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 42(4):414-422. doi:10.1111/j.1547-5069.2010.01370.x [Context Link]