Advocating, leading, caring

CHINLE, April 26, 2012

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N ational Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday. The theme for this year's Nurses Week is "Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring."

Now more than ever, registered nurses are positioned to assume leadership roles in health care, implement strategies to improve the quality of care, and play a key role in innovative, patient-centered care delivery models.

The nursing profession plays an essential role in improving patient outcomes, increasing access, coordinating care, and reducing health care costs.

At the Tséhootsooí Medical Center, nurses assume many roles as an advocate, leader, and caring professional.

A definition of advocate is 1) one that pleads the cause of another and 2) one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal.

In nursing, advocacy is a key role and concept. It is used to describe the nurse-patient relationship. As soon as a patient walks into our nursing arena, nurses are there to help from registration to treatment while giving emotional support, educating, and interpreting. This list goes on and on.

Kent Lingafelter, RN, Intensive Care Unit nurse executive, believes that his critical care nurses advocate for patients by "ensuring that their rights and wishes are being protected," and acknowledges that safety is a high priority.

Susan Morgan, RN, resource nurse, Multi-Service Unit, believes that "nurses must speak up for and be compassionate towards the patients so that they get better."

An advocate "protects, represents and seeks what the patient and provider goals are so that the patient's care is enhanced," said JoAnna McCabe, RN.


Nurses have to be leaders. To lead is to guide on a way especially by going in advance or on a specific course or direction. As leaders, nurses need to be professional, visionary, and inspiring while providing the best care for patients.

Our nurses today are challenged by changes in political environments, budgetary restrictions, staffing shortages and technological advances, to name a few. It is important that nurses anticipate and adapt to these challenges.

Asked how his nurses lead, Kent said that his nurses as leaders are impacting health care at TMC by providing evidence-based care through research. Susan added, "Nurses teach, work as a team, and lead by example."

Caring is the third component of the nurses week theme. Caring indicates a feeling or showing care and compassion.

JoAnna considers listening to the patient's concerns and following through with those concerns and being sincere embody the concept of caring.

Kent asserts that his nurses embrace caring, not simply as a task or professional obligation, but as the focus of their own identity as a nurse.

Susan adds that to be caring is to help the patient physically, mentally and spiritually to meet their needs.

Advocating, leading, and caring are basic components of nursing. Nurses advocate for all patients by taking those in need under their care, guiding them in the right path towards health and supporting them through pain, fear, and sometimes the hopelessness of illness and disease.

Nurses do it because of their nature to be nurturing and caring. Nurses are committed to giving quality and compassionate health care at TMC.

During the week of May 6-12, nursing awards and other activities will take place during the celebration. The Navajo Nation is encouraged to give thanks to all our nurses.

We have over 125 RNs employed at TMC in 22 different departments of the hospital. The Navajo Area has approximately 800 RNs, according to the IHS/Navajo website.

By Ruth Kawano
Assistant Chief Nurse Officer
U.S. Public Health Service