November 16, 2023

Random acts of kindness and team building put pediatric nurse anesthetist Caroline Campbell in the spotlight with Credo Award

“When people are feeling down, I want to do something to make everyone feel better.”

Caroline “Carrie” Campbell, CRNA, pediatric anesthesia. Photo by Erin O. Smith.

When the pediatric anesthesia team at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt needed a little pick-me-up, Caroline “Carrie” Campbell, CRNA, brought a chess board into the break room.

Campbell knew her colleagues had worked so hard through the pandemic, and the team had experienced a few staff departures and retirements.

“When people are feeling down, I want to do something to make everyone feel better,” she said. “At first, I created a little locker and filled it with random necessities – floss, M&Ms, Tylenol, etc. Then, I brought in a chess board and made a couple of teams. It was something to take everyone’s mind off the negative.”

Why a chess board?

“Like anything in life, when you take something one step at a time, it’s doable. Chess is the same — you take it one piece at a time,” she said.

For her team-building efforts, dedication to colleagues and patients, and problem-solving skills, Campbell was recognized with a Credo Award during the August virtual Leadership Assembly held Aug. 23.

One nominator wrote about Campbell, “So many of us barely knew how to play (chess), but that only made it more enjoyable! Here we were messaging over the weekend while the call CRNAs made the highly anticipated moves! I know I speak for all of us when I say that we have really revived our excitement to be together, and it feels closer than ever! It’s not just the game. It’s her joy that she spreads. Carries Credo behavior ‘Check (mates)’ all the boxes in my opinion.”

Formerly an adult intensive care unit nurse in Alabama, and then in Michigan, Campbell knew she wanted to eventually go to anesthesia school.

She arrived at Monroe Carell in 2018, when she was doing her rotations at Vanderbilt for anesthesia, and she fell in love with pediatrics. “I wanted to take really good care of kids. I instantly fell in love with the people who worked there, the place, and the way the whole team treats each other,” she said. “Everyone has the same goal, which is doing what’s right for kids.”

The anesthesia team at Monroe Carell surprised Campbell with the Credo award announcement during one of the group’s Wednesday morning meetings. They also gave her a giant Rubik’s Cube — a game another staff member brought in after her introduction of chess. Campbell awarded badge buddies for those who could solve the cube. HINT: the internet holds the clue to solving one. But in the end, she says, she’s no more deserving than any other person on the anesthesia team.

“I am not doing anything heroic. When we all work together to take ownership of our break room, our group, it makes it a better place to be. It’s been a stressful couple of years,” Campbell said. “Since I brought the chess game, having fun and being positive in the break room has been contagious. Everyone comes together to work on making work a positive place.”

Games and goodies were only a part of what makes Campbell special, her nominators say. When an information board in the operating room was on the fritz, Campbell took charge and made a single phone call and got it fixed after others had tried.

“You have already read one story about Carrie-the-nice. Now read one about Carrie-the-doer-of-things-impossible…Several other CRNAs had called to follow up with no success…until Carrie called. I’ll never quite know what was said, but they showed up that same day to fix the board,” a nominator wrote.

Still not taking credit, Campbell attributes her caring spirit to the people that surround her. “I am surrounded by the best people, and they inspire me to do better, have fun and take good care of kids,” she said.

Outside of work, Campbell spends time as mom to three boys ages 2, 4 and 8. Her husband, Ian, also works in adult health care as a hospitalist for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

View Carrie Campbell’s video from the Leadership Assembly here.

If you are a VUMC employee, you can nominate a colleague for an Elevate Credo Award, Five Pillar Leader Award, or Team Award. Visit the Elevate website to fill out a nomination form. Employees demonstrate credo behaviors when: they make those they serve the highest priority; respect privacy and confidentiality; communicate effectively; conduct themselves professionally; have a sense of ownership; and are committed to their colleagues. Elevate award nominations are accepted year-round. If a nomination is received after the cut off for an award selection period, the nomination will be considered for the next period. VUMC VOICE will post stories on each of the award winners in the weeks following their announcement.