While nurses across the globe speak out about staffing shortages, unsafe work conditions, and employers more interested in the bottom line than their staff, one Missouri nurse resident bucked the trend with an essay about her supportive healthcare system.
Monette Chiarolanza, RN
“Not many nurses can say positive things about their hospital leadership right now,” Monette Chiarolanza, RN, a nurse-in-training at University Health in Kansas City, Missouri, told Medscape Medical News.
Her essay about what makes her health system a unique place to work won the first Strive to Thrive Award from HOLLIBLU, an app that helps connect and support nurses. The winning entry, among 20 submitted to the contest, also earned a Zoom call from entertainer Michael Bublé. A past recipient of the HOLLIBLU Hero Award, resulting from his support of frontline workers during the pandemic, Bublé recognized the nurse resident for her service.
“I thank you on behalf of every human being you’ve rescued or helped, every person who has gone through tough times or is going to go through tough times. Your selflessness has changed the world…and you inspire us to be better people,” the singer told Chiarolanza.
Chiarolanza said she was touched by Zoom call from Bublé. What she didn’t tell him at the time was how his song, “Feeling Good,” helped her through a tough period being a single mom with two children after leaving an abusive marriage.
In her winning essay, Chiarolanza cited the “amazing support” nurses receive from their executives, who have been known to help hospital staff “pick up the slack when we are overwhelmed,” from pulling linens to recording vital signs and blood sugars. “A lot of CEOs wouldn’t engage in this way,” Chiarolanza told Medscape Medical News.
She also listed as examples of support the health system’s nurse resident program, of which she is a part, its mentorship, uncompensated care, and emotional support for veteran nurses feeling burned out. Leadership shows it values staff by providing such amenities as free massages, rejuvenation rooms with healthy snacks, “and a space for nurses to write encouraging notes to one another,” Chiarolanza continued.
Chiarolanza backed up her claims of employer support in her essay with quotes from nurses, ranging from new graduates to veteran staffers.
“We are being offered critical pay incentives, and leadership is prioritizing its communication to ensure nurses know the quality and compassionate care is appreciated,” she wrote.
She admits her health system may be short staffed like others worldwide, “but they do everything they can to have safe ratios. The leaders get out on the floor and listen to us.” They also realize that ensuring staff are “mentally healthy” will help employers retain workers and provide better patient care, Chiarolanza said.
Despite the positive environment she and she and her co-workers enjoy, she recognizes it’s not easy to be a nurse elsewhere. “Nurses are upset and angry. It can become a very dark and frustrating place to be.”
Chiarolanza and HOLLIBLU hope the Strive to Thrive Award will encourage other hospitals and health systems to follow University Health’s lead. “The award is important to highlight hospitals that are doing it right,” Chiarolanza said. “Every nurse deserves to feel like we feel about our hospital.”
Cara Lunsford, HOLLIBLU founder and CEO, said that in her 15 years as a nurse, she had never heard about the type of supportive environment Chiarolanza depicted in her essay. The deciding factor in the essay selection was Chiarolanza’s statement about how the CEO and CNO helped with weekly rounds and patient care, Lunsford told Medscape. “I don’t think we have ever heard of C-suite [execs] who come down and get into the trenches with their staff.”