Five nurses were honored through the Professional Nursing Advancement Program (PNAP) at December’s Nursing Day Conference.
PNAP encourages nurses to advance in their profession, rewarding education and certification, clinical skills, research, and leadership—among other accomplishments. It’s a tiered system: tier 4 is the highest level a nurse can attain. Awardees were recognized in the tier 1 and 3 categories this winter.
Congratulations to the PNAP honorees! Read more about them below.
- Laura Crupi, RN, BSN, ECT Service: Tier 3
- Sheridan Armstrong, ADN, RN, Dissociative Disorders and Trauma Inpatient Program: Tier 1
- Alex Dunham, BSN, Dissociative Disorders and Trauma Inpatient Program: Tier 1
- Victoria Maxwell, BSN, Short Term Unit South: Tier 1
- Megan Sly, BSN, RN, Short Term Unit: Tier 1
Crupi said her philosophy of nursing has evolved over her 33 years of practice, but a core tenet has remained constant: that care must be centered around “compassion, empathy, and clinical expertise.”
As a young teenager, she worked as a receptionist in her psychiatrist father’s office and learned a lot from witnessing how he interacted with his patients.
“They trusted him and relied on him for reassurance and guidance. I saw their facial expressions change after their session as compared to when they walked in,” she wrote.
Crupi believes that in order to provide top-quality care, nurses must consider every aspect of a patient’s life. And clinical expertise is critical. “Oftentimes it is the nurse’s role to provide education to both patients and their families, and it is therefore crucial that nurses remain up to date in their specialty.”
T is a childhood friend of Crupi’s, who had her first psychotic episode at age 13. Her parents sought care at McLean, where she spent the next year. T eventually found a medication regimen that stabilized her, and she graduated from high school and then college. Crupi stayed in touch with her over the years.
Fast forward 40 years. Crupi received a call from T’s sister saying that T was hospitalized with severe psychosis and catatonia. Crupi helped get her transferred to McLean’s psychotic disorders program, where she received excellent care. T eventually began receiving ECT at McLean and Crupi had the opportunity to care for her.
“When she came to the clinic escorted by staff, she, although quite psychotic, would ask for me,” Crupi wrote. “When she saw me, she smiled, her fear and anxiety lifted. I held her hand and reassured her that she was safe. She trusted me.”
“It has been nothing short of an honor to have had the opportunity to take care of her in her time of need.”
For Armstrong, providing quality patient care requires having a deep devotion to helping others and viewing patients in a holistic way—taking into account their emotional, mental, and physical well-being—since psychiatric illnesses often co-occur with physical symptoms and disorders.
“Therapeutic communication and building rapport are fundamental pieces in caring for others,” wrote Armstrong. She added that taking into account patients’ race, ethnicity, cultural background, and religion and personal beliefs is necessary in order to provide culturally competent care.
It’s also the nurse’s job to help patients “regain a sense of self, autonomy, and hope for the future,” she wrote.
Finally, life-long learning assures that nurses are up to date on the latest evidence-based treatment. “No one is ever finished learning,” wrote Armstrong.
The patient had a history of trauma, including sex trafficking, and had made multiple suicidal gestures on the unit. That day, she had pulled her blanket over her neck and head so it was impossible for staff to ensure she was safe.
Simply pulling the blanket off would have been re-traumatizing, given the patient’s troubled history with sleeping and being in bed.
“As the charge nurse, I had to make the decision to remove the blanket and decide how to do so without causing unnecessary distress,” wrote Armstrong. She asked the male staff member to step away, then asked the patient why she was struggling to show her neck and face. She replied that she was experiencing migraines and flashbacks. Armstrong offered her pain medication for the migraine and another medication to help her with the flashbacks.
The patient eventually agreed to remove the blanket and talk to Armstrong in a different room. There they reviewed some dialectical behavior therapy skills to help quell her distress and agitation. The patient thanked Armstrong for her gentleness and her consideration of her history.
“I was glad to have avoided negative outcomes for the patient and to be able to show her that even if she is struggling, she can reach out to staff for help and doesn’t need to struggle alone,” Armstrong wrote. “As a leader, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my therapeutic communication, sharpen my assessment skills, and try to learn the best way to teach my patients.”