Nurses share their vision and impact

May 26, 2023  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees, ,

Approximately a 5-minute read.

Key takeaways:

  • We are nearing the end of Nurses Month, and Headlines recently caught up with nurses across U-M Health to learn how the organization’s vision applies to their daily work.
  • Whether working in the hospital, in patients’ homes or out in the community, nurses recognize that their work transforms lives.
  • Thank you to our nurses for all you do every day – you make a difference!

We couldn’t let Nurses Month end without talking with a few of our nurses about their experiences here and how our vision – “Our discoveries change care. Our care changes lives.” – relates to the work they do every day.

Not surprisingly, we found that while everyone could connect in some way to our vision, they all had their own unique ways of interpreting what it meant to them. That is because our nurses and the work they do is as diverse as our care, our patients and the communities we serve.

At the heart of care

One common sentiment we heard was that nursing is at the heart of health care, as Chief Nurse Executive and U-M Health enterprise triad member Nancy May explained:

“As a nurse, what resonates with me most about our vision is that caring is at the center,” May said. “Caring is fundamental to, and at the heart of, nursing practice. Our vision sets the stage for our bright future – evidenced based, integrated, equitable and accessible care. Care that is provided in a collaborative and inclusive environment that will result in individual and team flourishing. Most importantly, our nursing care is transformative – it changes lives.”

Amy Allen, a medical/surgical unit nurse supervisor in UH 5B agreed.

“Because we are on the front line, advancements in medicine and in our profession are applied in the way we care for our patients,” Allen said. “We are the essential glue for the health system.”  

“We know firsthand the quality care we give to our patients and in our community, the impact it has and the positive feeling we receive from being a part of that care,” added Marisa Streelman, strategic advisor in the Office of the Chief Nurse Executive.

Expanding nursing careers

For some nurses, Michigan Medicine’s opportunity to provide professional development allows new opportunities for growth. No one understands that better than Maria L. Bobo, director of nursing professional development and education and Magnet Recognition Program.

“I provide professional development and other vital resources to our staff nurses so that they are ready and able to support and compassionately care for our patients,” Bobo said. “In other words, I care for the staff so they can care for the patients, and this is how I relate our vision to the work I do every day.”

Allison Palkowski, a registered nurse in general pediatrics at East Ann Arbor Health Center, shared her story of how professional development, and her leaders’ support, helped her renew her nursing career.

“After 25 years of working part-time as a pediatric RN at a local hospital, I decided it was time to make the switch to Michigan Medicine,” Palkowski said. “From the start, I was taken aback by the vast opportunities offered to me to improve my professional practice. Nursing leadership encouraged me to get my ambulatory care board certification and participate in committees and initiatives focusing on improving patient care. Professional development is encouraged because with dedicated, empowered nurses, our patients will win. Michigan Medicine has fostered my professional growth while simultaneously giving me the freedom to practice the compassionate nursing care I am called to do… changing patient lives for the better as a result.” 

Advancing the practice

Nurses also expand their knowledge and expertise by becoming advance practice practitioners (APPs) as nurse practitioners (NPs).

According to Emily Marlow, the chief of advanced practice nursing, NPs have a strong connection to the vision.

“A nurse practitioner is someone who sees the bigger picture and is well positioned to lead profound changes in delivering and managing health and wellbeing for the Michigan community,” she said.

“Nurse practitioners are well equipped to optimize the care of those who are most vulnerable,” added Andrea Kline, an NP and APP director and clinical Instructor in the U-M School of Nursing.

Touching patients’ lives

For Lauren Brabbs, a primary care RN at the Brighton Health Center, it’s all about the patients.

“I know the care we provide to our patients really does impact their lives in ways that are both big and small. It is a privilege to be a part of an institution that is a leader in making discoveries that change care, but also a team that has a common goal to improve the health of the patients we are serving.”

Shannon Johnson, an RN and clinical care coordinator at the Brighton Center for Specialty Care, also feels that special connection with her patients.

“I have been fortunate to attend several pediatric urology conferences and worked with colleagues to bring back ideas and new technology that helped to expand my care,” Johnson said. “I’ve also witnessed how our multidisciplinary approach to reviewing complex cases has helped many patients. However, working day to day as a nurse, I often feel like it is my patients and their parents who have changed my life and have taught me so much about how to care for them.

“I have learned that every child is different and the parents of children with chronic needs know their child best,” she added. “Through them, I have learned to listen to what they are telling me about their child. I’ve also been fortunate to work with fantastic nurses and Child Life team members. That’s important because it’s made it easy to reach out and ask questions and have a complete understanding of the care I’m providing.”

Bringing care to patients’ homes

“To me, the vision resonates in the home care world as we strive to provide care and necessary supplies to patients in their own homes,” said Kari Delvecchio, B.S.N., R.N., of HomeMed Post Acute Care. “Once a medical care plan is established in the hospital, and a patient is stable to go home, HomeMed specialty pharmacy provides intravenous and enteral supplies. Patients are taught to infuse antibiotics, TPN, hydration and tube feeds while in their own space versus the hospital. I know our nursing group makes a difference by providing education, care coordination and follow up on our patients.”

Other nurses support patients in their homes through the Hospital Care at Home (HCAH) Program. 

“Our vision is a powerful statement that highlights the transformative impact of Michigan Medicine’s work in health care,” said Douglas Gorges, R.N., M.S.N., of the HCAH program. “It signifies our commitment to advancing medical knowledge and translating that knowledge into improving the lives of patients and their families. Hospital Care at Home has enhanced the vision and the patient experience by offering medical care and treatment in the comfort of their home.”

Bringing care to the community

Nurses also bring our care directly to the community.

“I have been in clinical practice in school-based health centers for 22 years and I love working alongside other APPs and our amazing colleagues including our MAs, MDs, and social workers to support the Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools and Community Health Services,” said Nicole Speck, N.P., adjunct clinical instructor in nursing with the Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools.

“I feel privileged to practice in an area where my heart belongs. I am able to make an impact and can enhance access to care for patients and families in need. Being a part of Community Health Services, and a health system that supports this mission, aligns my personal values and beliefs: building our BASE and bridging the gap to quality health care.”

To all our nurses at Michigan Medicine – thank you for all you do!  You make a difference!