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State of Nursing address reviews challenges and resiliency

May. 26, 2022, 5:05 PM

by Matt Batcheldor

In her 2022 State of Nursing Address, Executive Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, NE-BC, looked back on another extraordinary year marked by multiple surges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resilient nurses who continued to respond.

Executive Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, NE-BC, delivers the 2022 State of Nursing Address in Light Hall on Tuesday. (photo by Erin O. Smith)

The address, which was live streamed on May 24, was part of VUMC’s ongoing recognition of National Nurses Week, which honors the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale. C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Officer, offered introductory remarks.

“We could not have predicted what was to be expected of us as a health care system this past year, yet we have weathered this storm well,” he said. “As nurses, you have served as invaluable members of the health care team, with your expert knowledge, emotional investment and dedication.”

Throughout her address, Dubree highlighted many examples of how nurses led new initiatives to benefit patients and families, amid the uncertainty and added workload of the pandemic. It was a year in which VUMC rolled out COVID-19 vaccines to children and reoriented the health system to respond to the surges driven by the delta and omicron variants.

“We know that this has been an extraordinary time, and perhaps more importantly, we know that it has been filled with extraordinary nurses,” Dubree said.

Nurses resumed community outreach efforts that were paused by the pandemic. For example, the Vanderbilt University Hospital float pool team served at the Nashville Rescue Mission, and Emergency Department nurses collected clothes for the homeless. Nurses at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt created a mobile flu fighter van to provide vaccines to neighborhoods with lower vaccination rates.

“We also had the opportunity to implement evidence-based practice in more and different ways,” Dubree said. Twenty-one VUMC nurses joined with faculty from the Helene Fuld Institute for Evidence-Based Practice from The Ohio State University. The Institute focuses on developing tactics and strategies for the use of evidence-based practice.

“That investment led to not only learning more, but nursing leaders and staff being able to take that forward and expand our knowledge of how to improve care throughout the health system,” Dubree said.

Vanderbilt nurses are once again attending and presenting at national conferences, in addition to publishing research. “I’m so proud of the work that you do and the commitment to share it with others,” Dubree said.

One of VUMC’s core commitments is patient-and-family-centered care, and the Medical Center continued to distinguish itself in this area. “Our focus on serving patients and families has shown strongly this year through patient engagement scores and feedback.”

Promoting diversity, equity and inclusion was another important nursing strategy in the last year. Mamie Williams, MPH, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, was named senior director of Nursing Diversity & Inclusion, and has been working to facilitate recruitment and retention of nurses and team members of diverse backgrounds.

Vanderbilt continues to adapt to recruit and retain the best nurses, launching a loan repayment program that helps nurses retire $500 of their student loans each month. The Vanderbilt Nurse Residency program continues to expand, welcoming nearly 600 new nurses this year. Also, associate degree nurse graduates were added to candidates accepted to the nurse residency program.

Dubree acknowledged the sacrifices of Vanderbilt nurses during the continuing pandemic and encouraged self-care and checking in with other team members to ensure their well-being.

“I am so impressed with what you do,” she said. “I see it every day. I’ve stood with family and friends in our hospitals. I’ve listened in staff meetings and in town halls. I am so impressed with how you have led, the work accomplished and how you have represented Vanderbilt Nursing. I am extraordinarily proud of that, and I want to tell you how much I thank you for everything that you do every day and how much you bring to the work that we all love.”

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