National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, British nurse, statistician, scientist and social reformer who was the foundational philosopher of modern nursing. These permanent dates were established in 1993 by the American Nurses Association.
As we celebrate National Nurses Week 2017 throughout the week of May 8, I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on my 8-year tenure as Chief Nursing Officer at Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC). I would like to share those reflections.
I began my journey at SVHC in 2009, at a time when the organization was undergoing a great deal of challenge and change. As I contemplated relocating from the Boston area, I was impressed by what I was reading about the organization in spite of the challenges. In particular, I will never forgot the full-page advertisement that the nursing staff placed in the Banner, stating, essentially, that “We are here for our community,” in spite of the turbulence going on. That advertisement and meeting the nursing staff sealed my decision to move to Vermont.
The organization recovered and exceeded my expectations for accomplishing stability, high quality, safe care and exceptional patient and employee satisfaction. This is evidenced in the achievement of its third (2010) and fourth (2015) consecutive Magnet re-designation for nursing excellence. It is also evidenced by being named one of Best Places to Work in Vermont for 3 consecutive years and as Becker’s Hospital Review’s 150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare 2017. These are just a few of the exceptional outcomes for patients, employees, and the community that SVHC demonstrates.
Transformational, visionary leadership is essential to achieve these kinds of results, but the “secret sauce” to exceptional outcomes in patient care is the front line staff who render the care to every patient, every time, every day. The staff at SVHC are a committed group of clinicians and non-clinicians who live the mission “to provide exceptional care and comfort to the people we serve” every day.
It has been my honor to lead the nursing staff at SVHC through these last 8 years. These nurses are compassionate, innovative, resilient, and dedicated to their patients, residents and community. Please join me in celebrating the nursing staff at SVHC.
Carol Conroy, DNP, CENP, Southwestern Vermont Health Care’s chief nursing officer and vice president of Operations.