Faces of Care 2022

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FACES of CARE

& Beyond Above

The Impact of Local Nurses

Plus: NURSES WHO WILL HELP SHAPE THE FUTURE @GreatClevNurse • #ImageofNursing •

Greater Cleveland Nurses Association

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FACESof CARE

Nurse

Support System The Greater Cleveland Nurses Association connects and celebrates local nurses. BY MYRA ORENSTEIN

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“The impact of today’s nurses goes beyond the bedside.” be with their loved ones, nurses became the patients’ lifeline, not only physically while striving to keep the patients alive but emotionally and spiritually. Nurses were there to establish communication between patients and families and to support and comfort patients when death was imminent. Nurses show up every day, doing what needs to be done with care and compassion, to meet the needs of patients. Another facet of the pandemic that demonstrated the knowledge and versatility of nursing can be seen among nurse educators. Nurse educators partnered with local health care systems to expedite cross-training of nurses to meet emerging needs. “Promoting these partnerships between hospitals and educators is very much a part of what nurses do,” Sams says. Rolen confirms that “while there is a lot of talk about staffing levels, nurse shortages and concern about meeting the need of patients, nursing schools in northeast Ohio are striving to expand enrollment.” The profession offers a multitude of career pathways, some of which draw the nurse away from direct care. These roles are very important to the health of individuals, families and communities, but we need to find ways to keep nurses at the bedside. “Nurses take great pride in their profession,” Rolen adds. “The impact of today’s nurses goes beyond the bedside. Finding

ways to engage nurses in improving aspects of the role and the work environment may help keep nurses at the bedside and positively impact the nursing shortage.” Post-pandemic, GCNA identified health disparities as its current focus. In March, GCNA collaborated with the Cleveland Council of Black Nurses and the Northeast Region of the Ohio League for Nursing at a joint meeting. A panel presentation on what health disparities are and how to address them concluded with attendees having table discussions to identify issues and potential strategies. The most obvious offshoot of small group conversation was the impact of lead poisoning in low-income housing and the resulting predisposition to disease. In more rural or Amish communities, GCNA hopes to promote the importance of strengthening the public health system and bring equality to the access of quality health care. Working with school nurses and colleges, information about the impact that COVID and other diseases have on the younger population and their families can be disseminated. Nurses brainstorm and share ideas about relevant topics including but not limited to health disparities. There is much momentum and energy within GCNA in addressing issues of importance to nursing and the health of our communities. For more information about the organization, visit clevelandnurse.org.

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The Greater Cleveland Nurses Association (GCNA) has continuously promoted the profession of nursing in Cleveland under various names since its founding on May 28, 1900. Initially, the Graduate Nurses Association of Cleveland provided a registry of trained, private duty nurses, raised professional standards and improved conditions for practicing nurses. Founding member Isabel Hampton Robb chaired the Lakeside Training School, the precursor to Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. Robb was the first president of what is now the American Nurses Association (ANA) and developed educational standards for what has become the National League for Nursing (NLN). Cleveland leadership has strong roots. Since 2009, GCNA has promoted the outstanding work of nurse leaders at the bedside and beyond in the annual Faces of Care features and is proud to honor the diversity of nurses for who they are and what they do to improve health. Last year, GCNA celebrated its 100th anniversary as a local nonprofit and affiliate of the Ohio and American Nurses Associations. GCNA Executive Director Carol Sams, MSN, RN, ANP-BC (retired), describes the event as “exhilarating and inspiring." GCNA President Penni-Lynn Rolen, MSN, RN, APRN-CNS, explains that “the mission of GCNA is to work for the improvement of health care for all people in significant and visible ways, to foster high professional standards and to promote the professional development of nurses.” The association strives to be the voice of nursing for Cuyahoga and Geauga counties. As a district of the Ohio Nurses Association (ONA), nurses in GCNA can be involved in issues affecting nursing and health at the local, state and national levels. In preparation for midterm elections, GCNA is planning a legislative forum in October to provide an opportunity for nurses to meet with local, state and U.S. Congress candidates. The challenges and burden of the COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the critical role of the nurse at the bedside. As families could not


From your exemplary work to your continuous dedication. You reflect our world class care.

Congratulations to the nurses being recognized as the Faces of Care Award recipients. Thank you for the impact you’ve made in the nursing community.

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FACESof CARE

Leading with Compassion

From promoting patient advocacy to combating social injustice, these nurses go above and beyond in their efforts to help those in need. BY MYRA ORENSTEIN

HEATHER M. Rice, PhD, APRN-CNP, PMHS

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or minutes spent at each breast; a growthand-development tracker where milestones are checked off and dated; an appointment calendar; and scoring for depression, anxiety, social support and resilience. The app flags clients with scores outside a normal range so they’re easily visible on a doula’s dashboard. Users can sign up for Birthing Beautiful Communities classes and request rides to appointments on the app, as well. “If you need additional help, there’s a support button,” Rice adds. “You can ask your doula to call you if you need something.” Fathers can view mothers’ appointment calendars and babies’ growth-and-development trackers, too. The app also allows them to track their own measures of stress, anxiety and concerns about issues such as financial literacy and work experiences. “The organization recognized that a lot of their mothers’ stress was related to the fathers’ not being able to secure adequate employment and support their families,” Rice explains. At press time, she was planning to introduce Thrive to Birthing Beautiful Communities clients this summer. She hopes similar organizations throughout Ohio will be able to use the app in their work to decrease maternal and infant mortality. “My work and my goal is to continue to partner with the organizations that are addressing this at the grassroots level and provide the data and the evidence that what they’re doing is what everyone needs to be doing to improve birth outcomes,” Rice says. Clients of the Birthing Beautiful Communities project Rice spearheaded achieved a 99.2% maternal-survival rate. And, 99.8% of their babies survived to celebrate a first birthday.

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offices in Cleveland and Akron, had achieved a 99.2% maternal-survival rate among its clients. And, 99.8% of their babies survived to celebrate a first birthday. “I wanted to be able to use clinical indicators and other standardized tools to essentially capture what’s being done well so that we can continue to expand that success… to the state of Ohio,” she says. Rice explains that the nonprofit offers classes on everything from birth, breastfeeding, newborn care and development to parenting styles, co-parenting and grandparents’ roles. It also pairs each client with a doula, some of whom received project-provided additional training as a community health worker and/or in chronic disease self-management at Cleveland State University. Her team found that doulas reduce maternal stress by improving communication with medical providers (they accompany clients to medical appointments), serving as their advocates in making birthing plans, and providing support through pregnancy, delivery and baby’s first year. “Women that have been supported with midwives and doulas have less C-section rates,” Rice adds. “Their babies tend to make it to full term — that’s something else that impacts African American women — prematurity with their babies.” An evaluation of Birthing Beautiful Communities programs, together with information gathered during client focus groups, was used to develop Thrive, a userfriendly app that tracks various measures for mother and baby. It boasts tools such as a kick counter that monitors baby’s movement in the womb. “There are normal kicks that should be experienced at different times,” Rice explains. The app also features a breastfeeding/ bottle-feeding tool that tracks when the baby eats and how many ounces are taken

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eather M. Rice saw firsthand how clinical care and socioeconomic challenges impacted African American mothers-to-be during her senior year at the Lakeview College of Nursing in Danville, Illinois. More disturbing than what she saw while participating in a project that assisted displaced mothers-to-be at a local housing unit was the knowledge that health outcomes for African American women and their babies did not improve with socioeconomic status like they typically did for other women. “In some cases, it's even worse,” the pediatric nurse practitioner and assistant professor at the Cleveland State University School of Nursing says. “PhD-prepared African American women actually have a higher risk than a Caucasian high-school student. A lot of it is related to the toxic stress that African American women experience.” That stress is the result of systemic racism, assumptions that African American women do not experience pain at the same level as other women, health professionals’ dismissive attitude regarding their concerns, the pressure to assume additional responsibilities and perform each task flawlessly and a lack of support after their babies are born. The experience hit close to home for a woman of childbearing age preparing for a professional career. In 2019, a year after the Cleveland Heights native landed her current position at CSU, Rice received the first of two grants from Ohio Third Frontier to develop a project with Birthing Beautiful Communities that would help mitigate maternal and infant mortality among African American women. “In some neighborhoods, [it’s] three to four times more likely for an African American woman to lose her baby before its first birthday,” she says. Yet the nonprofit, which serves close to 500 African American mothers-to-be and new mothers through its


ARIOL Tafa, MSN, RN

Tafa’s volunteer work has diversified exponentially since he drove a young Albanian man to Tri-C to register for classes approximately a half-dozen years ago. He still drives Albanian immigrants to meetings with Tri-C advisers so they can begin enrolling in classes. “Most Albanians hold high school degrees,” he explains. He tutors students taking English-as-a-second-language courses at Tri-C — one, he notes, is studying to become a social worker. To help Albanian immigrants adapt to their new home, he takes them to a family-friendly movie, museum, even a restaurant or Cleveland Orchestra concert. “That’s usually how you start to have a conversation and see how they’re doing,” he says. Up until this year, Tafa was also a test-taking skills tutor to Ursuline College nursing students who’d acquired English as a second language. “The needs are elsewhere right now,” he explains. Some of those needs are, of course, medical in nature. Once Tafa became a nurse, requests for advice and assistance multiplied.

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riol Tafa remembers the challenges he faced after emigrating to the United States from his native Albania in 2004 to further his education. The then-23year-old’s prospects for immediately landing a job that paid a comfortable living wage were slim with a limited command of the English language, high-school education, and no work experience other than waiting tables. But Tafa had an uncle, a factory worker living in Lakewood, who took him into his home and provided the tuition money to earn an associate of arts degree at Cuyahoga Community College. He subsequently enrolled at Ursuline College and got bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, a calling he discovered as a teen while helping care for his mother after she was seriously injured in a firearms accident. His uncle, one of three younger cousins, or a family friend always was available to help navigate a new culture and various processes and procedures such as filling out the annual paperwork required for a foreign student to study at Tri-C. “That gave me that first sense of how important community is for everyone,” Tafa says. A deep and enduring gratitude motivates Tafa to provide the same assistance and emotional support to others, even as he juggles multiple responsibilities as a clinical psychiatric nurse in the medical-psychiatric unit at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center; a clinical nurse at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Administration Medical Center; an adjunct clinical instructor at Ursuline College; a student working on a post-master’s certificate in Ursuline College’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program; and a doctorate in nursing practice from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He’s also a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves. Patricia Sharpnack, dean of Ursuline College’s Breen School of Nursing, has described Tafa as an unsung hero to the Albanian community in Parma and sections of Lakewood. “If I ever do anything nowadays, it’s because I remember those moments when I first moved in here myself,” he says.

In addition to his day-to-day duties, Tafa is dedicated to helping members of the local Albanian community. He refers them to appropriate clinics and health care professionals, drives older adults to medical appointments and helps them stick to care plans.

FAYE Gary, EdD, RN, FAAN

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aye Gary is emphatic in stating the prescription for addressing health disparities: focus on improving access to quality education and quality healthcare. Healthy, well-educated people, she points out, are able to get jobs that pay enough for them to move out of substandard housing in food deserts with limited or no transportation — all factors that contribute to health disparities.

“Before you know it, one call has become 20,” he says good-naturedly. He helps ensure members of the Albanian community receive necessary medical care, which has become particularly important during the age of COVID. “The biggest thing with COVID was making sure that they got vaccinated and that they were properly educated,” he says. And, he helps those with psychiatric issues by developing trusting relationships with them, urging them to seek treatment if they haven’t already done so, making sure they’re taking their medications and following up with their physicians. Many, he notes, believe divulging that they need treatment will reflect poorly on their community. “Sometimes, if they’re isolated, I feel like that makes it worse for them,” Tafa says. “Even just talking, I feel, has helped many of the community, seeing that it’s not as bad, especially if they get a new diagnosis.” Ask Tafa how he finds the time in his hectic schedule to do all this, and he answers with a version of a line often uttered by amazingly productive people. “If you want to make time for something that’s truly important, you can always make time,” he says.

The Ocala, Florida, native knows of what she speaks. She came of age at a time when segregation prevented her from attending the University of Florida, about 40 miles from her family’s farm. Instead, she ended up attending Florida A&M University, a historically Black college and university in Tallahassee. “I wanted to be a nurse,” Gary says. “So, that was pretty much my only choice in the state of Florida.”

The Medical Mutual of Ohio Kent W. Clapp chair and distinguished university professor at the Case Western Reserve University Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing (who also holds a secondary appointment as professor in the CWRU School of Medicine’s department of psychiatry) has spent her career working to eliminate those disparities through her teaching, research, writings and textbook editing. Gary has also served on numerous local, state, national and international boards, committees and councils. At the national level, she has served on the boards of Mental CLEVELANDMAGAZINE.COM

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FACESof CARE “The volunteer and paid work sort of meld together,” she says. Perhaps the greatest example of that statement is CWRU’s Provost Scholars Program, which Gary founded in 2013. It brings East Cleveland schoolchildren, along with students at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Ginn Academy, to campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. each week during the academic year. “We pick them up in 8th grade,” Gary says of the participants, which number from 31 to 35 at any one time. “They stay with us until they graduate.” On Tuesdays, participants meet with their faculty mentors. On Thursdays, they are tutored by CWRU students.

Students also attend a seminar on topics such as career planning and skill development. Day trips take them to destinations ranging from CWRU’s University Farm in Hunting Valley to Niagara Falls, from the Ohio Statehouse and The Ohio State University in Columbus to Wayne State University in Detroit. The experiences can be transformative. One of Gary’s first mentees is a graduate student at Ohio State. Another former participant is in law school, and one earned a bachelor’s degree from Spellman College and scored a fellowship at Wake Forest University. “She’s going to be an economic analyst,” Gary says proudly. Gary is also very active in the Plymouth United Church of Christ in Shaker Heights. She belongs to a group that’s exploring how the church can get more involved in social-injustice issues such as gerrymandering of voting districts. And, she’s preparing a lecture on the origins of redlining and its impact on the neighborhoods it created. “There’s just so much to do,” she says. “I guess it’s hard for me to let go. I grew up in the country where I’ve been working ever since I can remember, doing something — gathering eggs, sweeping the floor, closing the gate behind the cows, something. So, work is a very integral part of my being. And being a nurse, boy, I’ve seen so much human suffering. Any time that I can alleviate anything, I will do that.”

IMPACT

Health America, the National Institute of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Her 100-plus published journal articles address topics such as mistrust of black women in the health professions, as well as mental health among children and adolescents. Her most recent efforts include writing five chapters for a textbook on population health and health disparities she’s co-editing with fellow 2022 Faces of Care honoree Lynn Lotas. Those outside the walls of educational and medical institutions, however, know Gary for the work she’s done in the community since a former nursing school dean lured her from the University of Florida to CWRU with an endowed chair in 2003.

LYNN Lotas, PhD, RN, FAAN

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that CWRU nursing undergraduates would be collecting and evaluating data. “No one had mentioned that to me before,” she says. “I did mention it to the director of nursing in the school district, that I was surprised to see that. And she said, ‘I know. They asked me who would do it, and I knew you wouldn’t mind.’ She volunteered me.” Over the next five years, CWRU nursing undergraduates participated in a project that screened approximately 15,000 fifth graders, a significant number of whom were found to be hypertensive — a condition that might have gone unidentified because many children simply didn’t have blood-pressure checks. “By the time they do, they have end-stage organ damage,” Lotas says.

High poverty levels and an aging housing stock, along with low test scores, subsequently contributed to her concern about the children’s potential exposure to lead. “Seventy-nine percent of the housing in Cleveland was built before 1970, when we started having laws prohibiting leaded paint [and] … leaded pipes,” she says. In 2018, she secured funding from the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Foundation for a project that screens Cleveland school district children aged 3 to 6. In many cases, children had lead levels well above the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reportable level. “There is no safe level of lead,” she stresses. “They have found cognitive changes with very low levels of lead, levels below the reportable level. The reportable level for many years has been 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood. In March [2021], the CDC dropped it to 3.5 micrograms.”

DAVID SCHWARTZ

ynn Lotas’s contribution to improving the health of children in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District resulted from an incident that still makes her smile. In 2004, four years after she arrived at the Case Western Reserve University Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing as director of its undergraduate program, she met with the district’s director of nursing. Lotas had learned that 41 to 44 percent of Cleveland children lived in poverty, and she wanted to explore how the nursing school might address some of their health issues. One morning after that meeting, she read a Plain Dealer article about an American Heart Association hypertension-screening project in the Cleveland schools, part of a project to improve overall fitness among students. It stated

Gary founded CWRU’s Provost Scholars Program, which gives local students the opportunity to attend skill-building seminars and receive tutoring in important subjects such as math, writing, science and critical thinking.


IMPACT The damage it does to the brain and nervous system is permanent, affecting cognitive ability and impulse control. According to the most recent state reports to the CDC, only 20 to 24 percent of Ohio children ages 6 and under have been tested for lead exposure. “So, the percentage we have is probably underrepresenting the lead problem,” Lotas says. The project first secured consent from parents for their children to be tested, an effort Lotas says resulted in 70 to 90 percent agreeing to

Thanks to Lotas’s efforts, more young children in Cleveland are being tested for lead. When high levels are detected, families are provided referrals for environmental testing, mitigation and special education support.

do so. Then, undergraduate nursing students from CWRU, Ursuline College and Notre Dame College were deployed to the classrooms to take blood samples with a finger stick. A high test was confirmed by a traditional blood draw by an experienced CWRU graduate nursing student or physician’s assistant student supervised by nursing faculty at the child’s school. A team consisting of a community member and a health care professional called families of children with high tests to offer education about the dangers of lead.

“While you can’t undo the damage, you can start working with the child to minimize the effect on their behavior,” Lotas says. “They may learn differently, but they can learn.” Lotas’s interest in improving children’s health, particularly preterm infants’ health, is rooted in her own childhood. “I had twin brothers who were born very, very prematurely,” she explains, adding that one was extensively disabled due to an intracranial bleed. Her accomplishments prior to arriving at CWRU include establishing advanced-practice nursing programs in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, one of the poorest and medically underserved areas of the country, as director of a neonatal practitioner program at the University of Texas in the early to mid 1990s. “I followed my preemies to the school district,” she says of her career track. Lotas relinquished her responsibilities as the lead screening program’s director when she retired in June 2020. But she serves on the adjunct faculty and maintains a seat on the editorial board of Neonatal Network: The Journal of Neonatal Nursing. At press time, she was co-editing a textbook about population health and health disparities scheduled to be published in October with fellow 2022 Faces of Care honoree Faye Gary.

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Future

Leaders

The next generation of Northeast Ohio nurses shares what inspired them to pursue direct care and their hopes for the future. BY KRISTEN HAMPSHIRE AND MYRA ORENSTEIN

Kaitlyn Perry

Cleveland State University Caring and constant opportunities for growth are what drew Kaitlyn Perry into nursing school. “I’ve always had a passion for caring for others around me,” says Perry, who graduated in May from Cleveland State University with a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

Perry balances school with her role at MetroHealth Medical Center as a nurse intern in the trauma intensive care unit. “That has been my biggest learning experience so far,” she says. “I see critical care patients, and that really tests you to use your skills. You have to act immediately.” Through nursing school, Perry has learned a lot about herself — including gaining confidence to manage the most demanding medical situations in the ICU. She’s directing those skills straight into the workforce and accepted a position as a registered nurse in the department.

Breanay Clemons Ursuline College

From a young age, Breanay Clemons knew she wanted to become a nurse. Her commitment to that path has been reinforced over the years. Once, at an obstetrician’s office visit with her then-pregnant cousin, Clemons witnessed the role of a midwife, whose knowledge and professionalism she found impressive and inspiring. “I knew immediately I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse,” Clemons says.

In high school, she participated in the Aspire Nursing program at Cleveland Clinic. Now, as she graduates from Ursuline College, Clemons has a lot on her plate. After graduation, she will fulfill her goal and begin working as a labor and delivery nurse at the MetroHealth system. In addition, she will pursue a dual degree from Georgetown University’s midwifery and women’s health nurse practitioner master’s program. “A nurse told me this is a new generation of nurses. We know what we want to do and never change our minds,” Clemons says.

Sheila O’Connor

Baldwin Wallace University After 15 years working as a music teacher, Sheila O’Connor pivoted when she realized she wanted to learn how to better care for her parents, who were both battling cancer. She had the people skills — the teaching and learning experience from nurturing classrooms of children. Rather than pursuing a master’s in music education, she enrolled in a 15-month nursing program to earn her Bachelor of Science in

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nursing and RN at Baldwin Wallace and will complete her degree in December. “Nursing school has taught me to be humble as I learn new things after working in a previous career,” says O’Connor. So far, O’Connor has finished rotations at Fairview Hospital in the obstetrics department, University Hospitals main campus and Rainbow Babies & Children’s pediatric pulmonary unit, University Hospitals St. John Medical Center and Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital.

Kara Marie Tatum Notre Dame College

Leadership has come naturally to Kara Marie Tatum, a graduate of Notre Dame College’s School of Nursing. “The dean of Nursing told me that she was very impressed with my growth and leadership. She encouraged me to stand up for what I believe in,” Tatum says. Tatum took the advice to heart. During her time at Notre Dame College, she was an advocate for students and their beliefs, using her leadership

skills to discuss concerns with the nursing division to ensure students' wishes were respected. Because of her self-confidence and ability to lead, Tatum has received awards for outstanding leadership from Notre Dame College and the Greater Cleveland Nurses Association. “In middle school and high school, I worked at the Martin Luther King Health Center and the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center,” she adds. “That exposure solidified my decision [to enter the nursing field].” Tatum is currently working on the Trauma Intensive Care unit at University Hospitals as a nurse tech.

Chesaria Reffner

Chamberlain College of Nursing Chamberlain College of Nursing Graduate Chesaria Reffner chose nursing because of the many career paths it affords her. “I love all aspects of care, from holistic nursing at the bedside to patient advocacy, education and so much more,” she says. Reffner first wants to get a foundation in bedside nursing, knowing she will pursue an

advanced degree to become either a certified nurse anesthetist or nurse practitioner. She looks up to her great-grandmother, a former nurse who she calls a “wonderful, super caring, warm person,” — characteristics Reffner says a nurse should embody. For the past six months, Reffner has been working at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center. She’ll continue there post-graduation in its surgical ICU stepdown floor. During her three years at Chamberlain, she has been a student ambassador for the Cleveland campus, was involved with new student orientation, delivered talks about leadership, provided success tips to students and worked at the Center of Academic Success, providing free tutoring.

Bryanna Drabek

Kent State University A fractured spine following an accident after high school graduation didn’t stop Bryanna Drabek from pursuing a degree from the College of Nursing at Kent State University. Doctors warned her about being careful after her injury. Many believed she could not accomplish her dream of becoming a nurse. “I made a promise to my great-grandmother before she passed that I would become a nurse,” Drabek says.

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FACESof CARE After working in nursing homes for 10 years and as an aide at Cleveland Clinic for five years, Drabek is now graduating from Kent. “I am doing this, in part, to be a role model for my daughter [age 14] and to show her that anything is possible,” Drabek explains. Most recently, Drabek had been working in the COVID Unit at South Pointe Hospital and is continuing there now that it has returned to a regular floor. After graduation, she will become an ICU nurse at Hillcrest Hospital while simultaneously pursuing a doctoral degree to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Bridget McCoy

Cuyahoga Community College Bridget McCoy’s first hands-on clinical experience was at Cleveland Clinic main campus with a patient working through chemotherapy. It was then that she knew her decision to pursue nursing was absolutely the right choice. “You can really change someone’s day and hospital stay,” says McCoy. McCoy earned a degree in health services administration from Ohio University and always

knew she’d pursue healthcare, having been exposed to the field by her mother. Before graduating, she interned at Cleveland Clinic in human resources for international operations. “I have always enjoyed working with people — and sitting at a desk all day long is not my speed,” she relates. Now, McCoy is completing her RN degree at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) and works at Fairview Hospital as a nurse’s aide in the obstetrics and gynecology department. McCoy is president of Tri-C’s Student Nurses Association and accepted a position at Fairview Hospital’s intensive care unit. “In the ICU, you are really investigating the patient and understanding, ‘Why did this happen?’” she says.

“I’m working in the coronary care ICU at the Cleveland Clinic and love the pace, that my mind is always occupied and that it’s necessary to critically think of the patient’s history and the impact the care will have on that person’s future,” she says. Although working in the medical field has appealed to her since she was young, making a direct connection with patients became the deciding factor between becoming a doctor or a nurse. It was a summer externship at Cleveland Clinic that solidified her decision. “It was my first hospital experience working as a nurse rather than a nursing student. It helped me to understand hospital care plans and assignments," she says. Clements has held leadership roles in the Undergraduate Student Nurses Association (USNA) since her sophomore year at Case Western. During her junior year, as president of the association, she expanded her understanding of policies, seeing things from both student and faculty perspectives. She became a senior representative her senior year, helping to make connections between the students and USNA.

Aleah Clements

Case Western Reserve University After graduation from Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, Aleah Clements will pursue her dream of being a critical care nurse in a New York City hospital.

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