I have worked in nursing since I graduated high school, first as a CNA, then an MA, then a Registered Nurse, and eventually in nursing leadership. I discovered my love of pediatric nursing early on, having worked in pediatrics, PICU, pediatric oncology, and pediatric hospice. Throughout my career, I ventured into adult nursing for a few years, home health, and periodically worked in wound care (I love wounds!). More recently I have specialized in both pediatric and adult hospice (ask me about pediatric hospice, I could talk about it for hours!). But nothing has fulfilled me as much as advocating for my fellow nurses.
Advocating for nurses is something that has always come naturally to me. It was as a new grad nurse, that I first encountered the toxicity that runs rampant throughout the nursing profession. I will never forget the feeling of sitting in my manager's office, just weeks into my first RN job, being told I was a failure and threatened with termination because she hadn't received enough compliment cards about me (HCAHPS scores). I remember being so confused. I'd received nothing but positive feedback from patients and coworkers. How can they discipline me when I've never been in any trouble or even informed there was an issue? The manager had the identical conversation with my close friend, Marlene. Marlene and I went through nursing school together and started this job together. This incident started a downward spiral of depression for Marlene and she eventually took her own life. I knew even then that the nursing profession needed to change. I continued to be confronted with toxic harassment, bullying, vertical violence from management, unsafe working conditions, and gaslighting throughout my career. I am proud to say that I always spoke up against it! Always! Even as a single mom, with everything to lose, I continued to report wrongdoing and advocate for my patients and coworkers. I have paid the price for that advocacy at times and I would do it all again.
I never thought I would go into nursing leadership. Truth be told, I am the least likely nurse to go into leadership. I quickly discovered I could affect change much more in leadership, than I could as a staff nurse. And that's exactly what I did. Then one day, early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, I decided to post a video about being in nursing leadership to TikTok. The rest, as they say, is history. It wasn't long before I co-founded The Last Pizza Party, a grassroots nurse advocacy movement. This ultimately became a challenging journey to navigate and witness colleagues chose different paths. I soon expanded across other social media platforms and as an author. I found my niche in nationwide nurse advocacy and nurse led legislation, dividing my time between legislators, unions, and nurses in need.