National Nurses Week: What It Means to Tiffany McCauley, MSN, RN
National Nurses Week May 6-12 honors the four million registered nurses in the U.S. with its 2019 theme “4 Million Reasons to Celebrate,” recognizing the vast contributions nurses deliver in improving patient care and transforming healthcare. With a focus on rewards and challenges, we asked several of our outstanding nursing executives to share their journeys and perspectives about the nursing profession.
One of those nurses is Tiffany McCauley, MSN, RN, a nursing executive with Elsevier Clinical Solutions who collaborates with hospitals, healthcare systems and academic centers, seeking ways to reduce unwarranted care variations for improved patient outcomes. To do so, she leverages evidence-based decision support and her background in patient care, education, and nursing leadership. Here, she shares why she chose nursing, how she feels about the future of her profession and what National Nurses Week means to her.
Q: Why did you become a nurse?
A: Most nurses will tell you it was a calling, or that someone in the field inspired them to get into nursing. That’s not my story. I actually had no idea what I wanted to do, but I always liked science. I also wanted complete autonomy, but still had a desire to work collaboratively with a team. I wanted a career where every day would be different, and required a diverse skill set and offered an opportunity to explore multiple facets of the same profession. Most of all, I wanted to make contributions that mattered, doing work that was meaningful and would make a difference in something bigger than myself. I explored many career opportunities, and what I discovered about nursing appealed to me. There is nothing easy about being a nurse. They work long shifts while managing competing priorities, so a nurse must possess an immense amount of emotional intelligence. They are fierce patient and family advocates who plan, deliver and coordinate care. Every day presents different challenges.
Yet while all this was appealing, it wasn’t until I actually became a nurse that I really knew this was the career for me.
My science background was instrumental as I cared for patients with complex health issues, managed equipment and technology, and coordinated the care team’s efforts, including the patient’s family. Understanding the disease process and realizing how the care we provide impacted the outcomes of our patients was more rewarding than I could have imagined. As nurses, we apply our knowledge of science while providing care guided by evidence, compassion and empathy. We continue to learn and grow personally and professionally every day while providing strength, hope and direction to people in their most vulnerable moments.
Nurses are fortunate to be a part of people’s lives in their happiest, saddest and most vulnerable times. Among the chaos, we learn their stories and who they are. We hold their hands and we listen. We offer compassion and empathy. We are our patients’ chief advocates.
I enjoy the unique balance between the art and science of nursing. What we do matters and makes a difference in the lives of the people we care for. I am proud to be a nurse!
Q: What does National Nurses Week mean to you?
A: National Nurses Week is a time when all nurses are elevated and celebrated for their dedication to the health and well-being of humanity. There is much to celebrate. Our profession has come a long way, and we continue to make progress and gain recognition and respect for the impact we have on our patients. Nurses Week also lets us educate our communities about our value and the contributions we make to patients, research, policy and population health.
Q: Where do you see the future of nursing?
A: I am optimistic about the future of nursing and proud of the progress we have made toward our national goals during the past 10 years. The National Academy of Medicine and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation set fairly aggressive goals in 2010, and recent reports indicate we are on the right track.
Year after year, nursing is recognized as the most trusted discipline in healthcare. More nurses are advancing their degrees, taking leadership opportunities at the national level to influence policy and advocate to be heard. But there are tremendous challenges ahead. Our healthcare system is shifting focus from acute illness and injury to the prevention of chronic disease and the management of highly complex care for the chronically ill. It will now be our responsibility to identify factors that influence patient health outcomes out of our sphere of influence, such as living environment, social circle, education, and financial barriers. It will be up to us to engage our colleagues and involve the patient in developing a plan to help overcome the barriers these factors create. This will require an expanded skill set focused on effective communication and collaborative team-based care.
I believe the future holds some challenges, but we will continue to expand our capabilities to promote a culture of health and wellness among our population. As a result, nursing will continue to be recognized as the most trusted discipline in healthcare.
Q: What is one self-care tip for nurses?
A: Reflect on what it means to be the best version of yourself and then take small steps to achieve it. Some examples include getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising and being mindful and present in the moment.