This past weekend we highlighted the presentation of the American Nurses Foundation, which honored the work of Jacqueline Collavo, MA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, of Allegheny Health Network’s West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa., as the Honor A Nurse 2015 Nurse of the Year. Collavo took the time to chat with us about receiving the honor, and what it’s like working in her profession.
TravelNurseSource: What’s it like to receive an honor like this?
Jackie Collavo: Well, it’s a true honor, and I’m very humbled. I tend to try to fly under the radar around here and like to recognize others for the amazing things they do. It’s been such an amazing experience being able to interact with colleagues across the nation, to share best practices, and to continue to make our facility even better.
TNS: I noticed you actually have a degree in journalism and communications. What came first? Your passion for nursing or your passion for communications?
JC: Well, it really depends on which part of my life you look at. I’ve always had a passion for photography and other creative outlets, and after becoming a nurse I realized that we all had great stories to tell. I eventually became a member of the Professional Development Council and wrote and published our Education Newsletters, and worked collaboratively with others to do writing and communications for other hospital projects. People don’t realize how many opportunities nursing provides. I was able to assist with obtaining press coverage, recognize other nurses, and publish success stories. When I started to apply for the writing-intensive Magnet Recognition Program I decided to go back and get a degree in writing and communications. Today I continue to write our newsletters, annual reports, and Magnet exemplars.
TNS: How do nursing and communications go hand in hand?
JC: Communication will make or break any situation. If done correctly, it’s the key to success in any scenario. I always tell my nurses to take the “just do it” approach, no matter what, we’ll work as a team and just get it done.
TNS: In your opinion, what makes a good nurse and what advice would you give them?
JC: I think they should be someone that’s compassionate, caring, and kind. They should be able to work well with others through communication and hard work. As for advice, there’s nothing a nurse cannot do. There’s so much room to move up in the field but the biggest thing to remember is that the patient always comes first. Whether I’m on the floor or in a meeting, the patient is always the number one priority and the focus of all we do.
TNS: What are some improvements you’d like to see within the health care field? I know things like short staffing, mandatory overtime, and job safety are just a few of the issues that arise.
JC: Staffing to me will always be one of the biggest challenges because healthcare has become a business. As we mentor nurses, especially managers, we explain to them they are essentially the CEO of their designated “unit.” If all of our “units” are successful, then we will be successful as a whole. We try to stay as visible and accessible as possible and strive that teamwork will lead to success.
TNS: Anything else you would like to add?
JC: Just that I am honored and humbled in what I do. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to help my nurses and I wouldn’t shy away from taking on any challenge with them. Working together in our profession is key.