Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence

Portrait of young nurse with senior patient in nursing home

Every May we celebrate National Nurses Week. It begins May 6 and ends May 12—on Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The nursing profession has seen many changes over the years. It is important to be innovative and courageously influence the future of our profession.

As a nurse for 39 years, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the evolution of the profession. For instance, paper nursing care plans have been replaced by electronic health records. Patients are now able to access their health records, and there is a new focus on “whole person care.”

When Dr. Donald Berwick, a former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, announced “the triple aim” of improving the experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing per capita costs of health care, it seemed revolutionary. Soon after this phrase entered the health care lexicon, this concept spread to all corners of the health care system.

Now there’s a “quadruple aim” and the fourth aim is important, too—improving the work life of clinicians and staff. “Whole person care” includes care of nurses.

Recently I connected with Angela Nottage at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Angela is the DSHS Aging and Long-Term Support Administration’s Nursing and Performance Improvement Unit Manager. She oversees the Home and Community Based Services nursing programs and supports nurses in their work with Medicaid consumers—older adults, adults with disabilities, and family caregivers.

Angela reviews state legislation that may affect the health of Washington state consumers. She also attends Washington State Health Care Authority meetings to review population outcomes based on health measures, highlight changes in the aging and disabled population, and strive for improved health and outcomes. We have worked together in developing chronic disease self-management education, to influence consumers to get more involved and proactive in their health and wellness.

Here’s what Angela had to say about nursing:

“How did I get to this point in my nursing career? Since I could remember, I have always wanted to be a nurse, to help and to be a part of an awesome group of professionals. My decision was right on spot. My background includes 35 years of working in hospitals, home health, and nursing education. I have progressed in each area to supervisor or lead nurse and always focus on improvement from the unit to support the nurses. Now I have a community-based nursing policy and procedure writing role. My current role encourages nurses to strive for excellence in whatever their field of nursing may be.”

Thank you for all that you do, Angela!

To all—if you are a nurse, have been a nurse, or work with nurses, like the case managers who work with nurse consultants at Aging and Disability Services, we offer you our thanks and sincere appreciation. You inspire!

Contributor Mary Pat O’Leary, RN is a planner at Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle-King County, who has developed policies and protocols for nurses who consult with case managers and has collaborated in developing self-management plans that support successful care transitions—hospital to home, or skilled nursing facility, or to other settings.

This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of AgeWise King County (click here).