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Address highlights crucial contributions of nursing workforce

Jun. 1, 2023, 10:01 AM

Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, NE-BC, delivered last week’s State of Nursing Address.
Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, NE-BC, delivered last week’s State of Nursing Address. (photo by Donn Jones)

by Matt Batcheldor

In her 2023 State of Nursing Address, Executive Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, NE-BC, looked back on another extraordinary year as nearly 9,000 Vanderbilt nurses cared for patients and families and the health system continued to grow to meet the needs of patients and families.

Dubree’s May 23 address to nurses throughout the enterprise in person and online was part of VUMC’s ongoing recognition of National Nurses Month, which honors the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of modern nursing. C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Officer, offered introductory remarks.

“Celebrate and reflect on the incredible work that you do,” Dubree told the nurses. “In the face of the ever-evolving health care landscape, nurses have consistently been at the forefront, providing the vital care, support and comfort to those in need. From the patient side to the community, nurses serve as the heart and soul of the health care system.”

In her address, Dubree was frank about the challenges facing nursing and health care today, but said nurses have always met them.

“This year has been a testament to the qualities which make a Vanderbilt nurse — compassion, competency, resilience, and a steadfast commitment to excellence,” she said.

Since the onset of COVID-19 three years ago, nurses have faced patient care challenges as well as personal impacts of the pandemic. They’ve done this despite a national shortage of nurses and other team members. They’ve adapted to new tools and new technologies to care for the patients we serve.

In the meantime, Nashville and Middle Tennessee continue significant growth, and Vanderbilt continues to expand its physical footprint to care for those patients.

To meet these challenges for nurses, Vanderbilt has partnered with community organizations, academic institutions, and is reaching out to high schools to cultivate interest in health care and nursing. Scholarships, tuition reimbursement programs, targeted recruitment incentives and a nursing tuition reimbursement program are in place to reduce the burdens of student debt for nurses.

“We’ve evolved our comprehensive orientation programs, preceptor initiatives and our mentorship opportunities that will provide guidance, support and a nurturing environment for growth,” she said.

Dubree said VUMC is at the forefront of designing new care delivery models, collaborative teams and advancing shared governance models that empower nurses.

“Each team member plays a vital role in providing comprehensive and patient-centered care,” she said. “Every individual brings their unique skills and their expertise to our work, and they must be able to work to the top of their license and education to bring the best of that to our patients.”

Another important initiative is enhancing the safety and well-being of nurses.

“We must work diligently every day to make sure that we make this environment as safe as possible for those who are called to do this work,” she said. “We recognize that nurses are at the front line of care, often facing physical and emotional demands that can and do impact their overall well-being. We are committed to creating a culture of safety, providing the necessary resources, support and systems that ensure our nurses feel protected.”

Dubree acknowledged one of Vanderbilt Nursing’s major accomplishments in the last year, attaining the fourth Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialling Center (ANCC). Magnet is the highest honor an organization can receive for the provision of nursing care and interprofessional collaboration.

The address included a recorded tribute from Pete Weber, sportscaster for the Nashville Predators, saluting nurses who cared for him. Weber credits his nurses for doing the diagnostic tests that pinpointed his condition, leading to two surgeries, the most recent one to place a shunt into his brain, restoring his balance and ability to walk.

“The nurses were there when I had difficulty, and I could lean on them. They gave an extra hand when I needed it. They were very vigilant watching me so very carefully, and I’m so grateful,” Weber said.

“We’re so grateful to Pete for sharing his story and his experience,” Dubree said. “His affirmation of Vanderbilt Nursing resonates for me for so many reasons.

“I’m so grateful to you and have confidence in the work that you will do in the future; thank you so much for joining us today.”

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