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2024 National Nurses Week: Four LeanTaaS RNs share their stories

  • Staff Writer
    Staff Writer

National Nurses Week is May 6-12, 2024, celebrating the invaluable contributions of nurses. At LeanTaaS, we celebrate and appreciate all the nurses in our lives — our colleagues and leaders, those who’ve made a difference to us and our loved ones personally, as well as the customers we partner with to support their high-quality caregiving throughout hospitals, cancer centers, and ORs.

As one LeanTaaS RN put it: “To those nurses that have been chosen by your profession, we’re so thankful to you. Amidst all that you have to endure, when you put your patients front and center, you are NOT invisible. Your work DOES matter immensely. Many nurses feel a reap of reward daily, knowing that their efforts improved the lives, or in some cases the deaths, of those entrusted to their care. National Nurses Week to many is mere icing on the cake but a recognition so well deserved.”

Four LeanTaaS RNs recently shared their experiences as nurses and recognized those who’ve made an impact on them personally and professionally. 

What inspired you to become a nurse, and how does that passion continue to drive you in your daily work?

Justin Kelley, MSN, RN, Solutions Executive – Infusion: I was inspired to become a nurse in high school! We had a year-end project and we had to research, shadow, and report on certain careers that interested us. I chose nursing because of a few family members who were nurses. My eyes were opened by learning about what they did and their daily impact on their patients. I felt like I got to step into their shoes and I was hooked. That started my journey and it’s been awesome ever since. A special thank you to my high school and family members who really helped me understand what it meant to be a nurse!

Jenny Desir, MBA, BSN, RN, Manager, Client Success – OR: I’ve had an affinity for healthcare since an early age, and I pursued nursing when I discovered I had a deep-seated urge to help others and contribute positively to their lives. The nurses that I met at different phases of my life strengthened my purpose and mission behind making this my career.

Amy Steele, BSN, RN, CNOR, Senior Manager, Client Success – OR: I always knew that I wanted to help people. During nursing school, we spent a total of two days observing procedures in an operating room. Immediately, I knew that I had found my “home” in surgery. Patients are at their most vulnerable whenever they are in surgery. They have no means to give information, ask questions, or advocate for themselves. It becomes the role of the nurse to ensure that everything is done in a manner that keeps our patients safe and protected.  

Nancy Mann, BSN, RN, Senior Manager, Client Success – OR: Growing up, I had several family members who battled illnesses, requiring frequent hospital visits. When I accompanied my loved ones to the hospital, I found myself drawn to the compassionate care provided by the nursing staff. I observed firsthand the dedication, empathy, and unwavering commitment they showed to their patients. It was inspiring to see how they made a difference in the lives of those they cared for, providing comfort and support during challenging times. 

These nurses left a mark on me and became pivotal in shaping my own path. I wanted a career where I could make a meaningful impact; helping people came naturally to me and nursing seemed to be the perfect fit. The values instilled in me by my family, coupled with my innate desire to serve others, propelled me towards this fulfilling profession. 

Can you share a memorable experience where your role as a nurse made a significant impact on a patient’s life or well-being?

JK: Some of my most memorable moments were in Palliative Care at Mt. Sinai in New York.  A special tradition that we had as a care team was always trying to find ways to treat patients to something unexpected. Once during an election cycle, we had a patient who had spent her life getting people registered to vote, volunteering at polling locations, and going door-to-door to turn out the vote. She fought for her civic responsibility and hadn’t missed a single election since women were allowed to vote. The care team spent a lot of time making sure she didn’t miss this one either! We coordinated with her family and local government to ensure her mail-in ballot got delivered to the hospital. It was a really inspiring experience to take that energy to all our patients and make every wish, however big or small, a reality. 

AS: When you work in surgery, the ones that are “beyond the norm” always stick with you the most. I think of my patients who were right on the edge, where literally every second counted — pregnant mothers in crisis, babies in distress, and patients with severe internal bleeding. Seeing a patient teetering between life and death, giving them your all physically and mentally, and then witnessing their smile the next day in the hospital room — those moments affirm the difference you’ve made.

Reflecting on your journey as a nurse, what brought you to your current role at LeanTaaS?

AS: I worked as the Manager for both the Operating Room and Post Anesthesia Care Unit during COVID, and it was beyond difficult. Inpatient units were re-purposed, entire sections of hospitals were transitioned for use as negative pressure (used for patients on airborne/droplet precautions), all elective surgeries were canceled, and staff had to work on floors in roles that they may not have performed in 20+ years.  

At the start of the pandemic, our contributions were recognized and nurses were hailed as “healthcare heroes”. But as the pandemic continued, patients and their families were understandably frustrated and distressed with treatment plans, capacity issues, and even safety policies and procedures. Bearing the brunt of this frustration while working long hours and putting ourselves at risk all led to severe burnout. Many healthcare workers started searching for an alternative to bedside care, and I was one of them. LeanTaaS offered me a way to apply my industry knowledge and years of perioperative experience to have a positive impact on the surgical experience, all while allowing my own mental health to recover.   

JD: Early in my career as a nurse, when I received my MBA, the most essential question I asked myself was “how can I still make a difference as a nurse in a non-clinical role?” I have learned that every touchpoint or interaction I had with a patient as an OR nurse can be translated into data. Data is a powerful instrument that can be leveraged for efficacy, improvement, and many other things in healthcare. Being able to work with our clients and witness the operational changes we’re empowering them to make through actionable data is invaluable. To see that I can still make a positive impact in a non-clinical role is indeed special. 

NM: My experience as a nurse means that I can bridge the gap between technology and clinical practice, ensuring that our solutions at LeanTaaS are not only effective but also practical and user-friendly for frontline staff. I’m no longer at the bedside, but I’m helping my nursing colleagues and healthcare staff in a new and really important way. By leveraging data analytics and predictive modeling, they can make informed decisions that improve patient care, maximize resource utilization, and drive operational excellence — and lighten their load as well. 

As a nurse, you play a crucial role in patient care and have a first-hand understanding of how complex managing hospital operations can be – how has that unique perspective informed your work at LeanTaaS?

JK: As nurses, we’re not afraid to dive in so we get to the root quicker. That’s been a real game-changer for me. I’m not afraid to talk process or admit when I don’t understand an answer. Not understanding and not speaking up is how patients get in harm and I’m not going to let my pride dictate patient safety. 

AS: My 20 years in Surgical Services allows me to consider the entire surgical experience when developing and suggesting workflows, including how our application may function in the future. I’ve found that my experiences are not only valued but really complemented by the variety of perspectives at LeanTaaS, all of which help us understand and serve our customers better.  

NM: I worked as a bedside nurse, charge nurse, and quality analyst for almost 15 years prior to joining LeanTaaS. I have a deep understanding of clinical workflows and the critical role technology plays in streamlining processes. This means I can deeply empathize with the daily struggles faced by healthcare leaders in the operating room. Whether it’s optimizing surgical scheduling, managing resources like robots more efficiently, or ensuring timely access to care, I have been there and know how important solutions are! 

Can you share an example of how more efficient scheduling and operations significantly improved patient experience?

​​JK: Efficient scheduling in infusion involves juggling various factors like staffing, add-ons, cancellations, and pharmacy, among others. It’s hard to keep all of this in your head and manually make a good schedule. When these factors are considered ahead of time because of data integration, I know I can confidently pick the right slot and patients don’t feel the impact of decision-making. Without a good workflow, patients may face longer waits, uncoordinated appointments, or compromised safety because of nurse bandwidth. Patient safety is a big concern for me and I’m glad we treat safety with the respect it deserves. 

Why are solutions focused on empowering nurses and streamlining operations particularly important right now?

JK: The biggest reason: If you’re not getting a nurse involved, expect a solution that doesn’t work for a nurse. Our voices are needed at the table because without it, people who don’t understand exactly what we do every day are going to make some broad assumptions about our workflow, our capacity, or our superhuman abilities. I’m sure us nurses could take a pretty good guess on how to improve a dentist’s workflow, but wouldn’t it be better coming from them? 

AS: Years ago, we identified an oncoming nursing shortage. COVID drove many healthcare workers from the bedside, multiplying that shortage and speeding up the timeline. With baby boomers aging and requiring more healthcare, it’s imperative to streamline operations and make the most efficient use of those who are working in the hospital space.  

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