By: Brennan Nardi
How do you find the best nurses in Madison, the ones who go above and beyond the duties of their profession every single day? You ask their patients, colleagues, families and friends who can never say enough about the successful, smart and, of course, compassionate nurses in their lives. After Madison Magazine and WISC-TV3 asked the community to help us find and recognize their favorite nurses in all areas of health care, seven winners emerged from a pool of more than a hundred remarkable and qualified candidates practicing in a wide variety of health care environments and in a diversity of roles within the profession. To be chosen for this honor, Madison’s Favorite Nurses must have been trained in a formal nursing program, and all were vetted by the state Department of Regulation & Licensing. This year, we asked our nurses to tell us, in their own words, what it’s like to work on the frontlines of health care in Madison, Wisconsin. Here are their stories.
Nurse Clinician, American Family Children’s Hospital
What’s the best day you’ve ever had?
There have been many good days that run smoothly and where patients have good outcomes with their procedures. Working side by side with my daughters, who also became surgical nurses, in the operating room stands out as one of the most memorable days in my career.
What I love most about my job ...
I work with doctors who tirelessly strive to improve their care for the precious lives of their patients. The surgeons, anesthesiologists and other professionals inspire me to do the best job I can. Every day presents itself as an opportunity to learn something. My most important role is to care for and support each patient with compassion, as though they were a member of my family.
Nurses are often described as especially compassionate, even angelic. Do you agree?
Patients have a natural fear of surgery, fear of the unknown, or fear of possible disfigurement or even death. And having an anesthetic places a patient in a position of vulnerability. Supporting and connecting with a patient at this vulnerable time is so rewarding, and having a patient tell you that you were their angel is humbling.
Are there common misperceptions about your work?
Some may think operating room nurses are not registered nurses, but we simply have chosen a career path where we care for the patient during surgery. We act as a patient advocate during this scary part of their treatment. We see the whole picture, assisting our team members. And, of course, we communicate with family members as they anxiously await news and updates.
Would you recommend a career in nursing to others?
I would encourage anyone interested in becoming a nurse to spend some time talking to one. Talk to a mentor. Nursing is not just a job; it is a passion. It is a part of who you are. It is a career to be proud of.
“Denise makes the operating room run smoothly, and on a constant basis. During emergent situations, she is calm, thinks logically and is able to perform her duties under extreme pressure. She is able to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. She performs her duties with skill and grace.”
Assistant Professor, Edgewood College & Nurse Clinician, American Family Children’s Hospital
Describe your path to nursing.
I am master plumber in the state of Wisconsin and have held the license for thirty years. While a plumber and volunteer EMT in a small northern Wisconsin community, I started taking high school students to South America on medical projects. From this I fell in love with nursing. At the age of forty-five I went to college for the first time in my life.
What’s the best day you’ve ever had?
I believe that my best days are when I am walking out to my car and I marvel at what I have learned through the action of a child. When many of these children face what seem like insurmountable odds, they smile. Their attitude and courage to find the best in everything and to set such an important example for a nurse to follow are the small things in my job that mean so much.
How do you decompress from a hard day’s work?
I ride my Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The freedom of the road and the wind in my hair allow me to put the daily stress in proper prospective.
Who are your mentors?
In nursing I have two mentors that I value very much. One is a nurse educator; I can ask her anything about work and I value her opinion. She has guided my professional development and advancement. The other I met after hearing her lecture and describe her service-learning trips and it turned into a life of volunteering and coordinating health care missions to Cambodia for me.
“Claude’s ability to connect with children is unique. He communicates with endless compassion, poise and patience, and he strives to deliver the best care to all his patients. Claude cares for the sickest of the sick. The families under his care need constant communication, reassurance and trust in Claude to do everything in his power to help pull their child through whatever health challenge they may be facing. Claude exceeds these expectations.”
Click here to see the rest of Madison's Favorite Nurses.