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NAME: Patricia Anne O'Malley, PhD, RN, CNS

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CURRENT POSITION: Nurse Researcher, Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Nurse Faculty


CURRENT AFFILIATION(S): Miami Valley Hospital-Dayton, OH, Center of Nursing Excellence Indiana University East School of Nursing


AREA(S) OF SPECIALIZATION: Palliative and Critical Care


PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION: BSN, College of Mt. Saint Joseph; MS and PhD in Nursing, The Ohio State University




Patricia O'Malley, PhD, RN, CNS, CCRN (emeritus), nurse researcher at the Center of Nursing Excellence and clinical nurse specialist in Palliative Care Services at the Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton, Ohio, was awarded the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialist (NACNS) Sue B. Davidson Service Award. This award recognizes an individual for extraordinary service to NACNS. It was established in honor of Dr Sue Davidson, a founding member who served 2 terms as president and, for many years, chaired the NACNS Research Committee. The award is given by the NACNS Board of Directors.


Dr O'Malley is an exemplary model for volunteer service, having made many contributions to the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) community. Most notably, she has been serving as editor for the Pharmacology Column in Clinical Nurse Specialist-The International Journal for Advanced Nursing Practice since 2002, capturing the attention of NACNS members, other healthcare providers, and the media. Her columns probe the use of pharmacologic agents as therapy along with unintended consequences in the ethical, economic, and civic impact realms. For example, columns on bath salts and caffeinated energy drinks brought comments from readers who looked anew at agents considered unimportant and insignificant. A recent column reviewed the emerging practice of using intravenous acetaminophen, whereas another addressed the question "Why do patients fail to take prescribed medications?" Dr O'Malley's column has become a highlight of each journal issue and a reflection of her scholarship.


Describe why service at the professional level is important to you. What motivated you to commit to these particular aspects of service for which you were recognized?

Service is the best path to express gratitude. Service allows me to give back to the profession that has brought much joy and meaning to my life. Imagine! All of us are a part of a discipline dedicated to the prevention and relief of suffering. Every day is an opportunity to make some difference in a patient, family, peer, or a student's life! Service is also a lovely way to say thanks to all the mentors, teachers, colleagues and patients that have helped shape my nursing journey. Where would I be without them! In addition to volunteer works, writing is a service path I hope helps another CNS on their nursing journey and the people they care for. When I write a paper for publication in Clinical Nurse Specialist, I begin by reflecting on the CNS who might read the words and how the topic may help CNS practice. When CNSs around the world (and other disciplines too!) e-mail me about how a paper was helpful for practice or teaching or counseling, this service of writing is even more meaningful!


What first motivated you to become a clinical nurse specialist?

The CNS role was just beginning to obtain wide acceptance when I began my pursuit. I am so grateful to the role models I observed who had such passion and vision for advanced practice. Particularly influential was Mary MacVicar PhD, RN, graduate faculty for the CNS program at The Ohio State University in the 1980s. Retired now from teaching, I still keep in contact with this wonderful mentor who brought many CNSs to advanced practice endowed with incredible skills and tools for the emerging CNS identity in nursing.


What, if any, professional or career issues did you face early in your career as a CNS?

First was overcoming the assumptions and suspicions regarding the CNS role by the medical staff, clinical nurses, and nurse leaders. These barriers gradually disappeared with discretion, patience, listening, keeping promises, and collaboration. I tried to mentor as I had been mentored-with acceptance and respect. All of this helped build meaningful outcomes for staff, patients, and the organization I served. In the process, I grew as a CNS and as a person. It was an exciting and unforgettable journey.


What do you perceive are the key areas of service for clinical nurse specialist today in regards to patients? To other clinical nurse specialists? To the nursing profession in general?

I think CNS advocacy, education, and leadership services should really focus on nurses entering the profession now to change patient and nursing outcomes. There are many creative ways to advocate, educate, and lead, such as guest lecturing, community education and celebrations, weekend or evening coffee houses with contact hours, or creating written guides or Web pages. Making time for CNS meeting, sharing, and planning also makes a huge difference over a career. Of course, being a member of NACNS is a huge part of service. Publishing in Clinical Nurse Specialist about your program or idea or evidence based practices would be awesome too!


To date, what do you perceive as your greatest accomplishments as a clinical nurse specialist?

I would have to say there would be 3 together rather than just 1. First, mentoring others into the CNS role and watching them bloom in advanced practice! Second, mentoring the CNS through the research process to the successful thesis or dissertation defense and celebrating with them their wonderful contributions to the discipline of nursing. Third, the opportunity afforded to me to write for Clinical Nurse Specialist journal. I am very blessed.


What do you enjoy or value most about the role of a clinical nurse specialist?

I cherish the relationships I have made through the years and the opportunities I have to make a difference for nurses, patients, and families.


What advice would you give a new clinical nurse specialist starting out in this role?

To answer this question, I would offer the following 10 commandments for the new (and seasoned) CNS.


10 commandments for the new (and seasoned) CNS:


1. Before beginning each day, write down 1 thing you are grateful for in a small book or in your calendar. Reflect on all that you wrote every few months or so. This will help you keep perspective on the journey.


2. Every clinical issue has visible and invisible aspects. Never act on any issue until you uncover the invisible. Account for what has NOT been said before you act.


3. Stop talking. Take time to listen to everyone involved before you act.


4. Never build a project without an evaluation plan-otherwise you will soon be lost.


5. Give yourself a break. Some projects just fail despite good planning. Use the ashes to build the next project.


6. Never promise what you cannot fulfill. Otherwise, you will never be trusted.


7. Be careful of the literature, evidence, and experts. Critical evaluation before implementation is required for safe CNS practice.


8. Sometimes, you will have to let a project go for a better time. Don't lose heart! Put the project away-in a safe place till the timing is right for success.


9. Stay very close to bedside nurses. They will tell you everything you need to know to make a difference. They will also tell you a lot about who you are as a CNS.


10. Everyone needs appreciation and encouragement. Tell someone every day how wonderful they are, or the great job they did, or how they make a difference.