Hear from Leslie, Executive Director on NPR

Hawaii Public Radio Catherine Interview with Leslie, Executive Director Hawaii Nurses CE

Catherine, “As we close out the year, we also look ahead at 2020. The New Year will be celebrated as the year of the nurse. A key part of keeping nurses on the job is taking care of them and making sure they keep up with your continuing education as part of an added requirement for licensure. Now the theme of an upcoming workshop is Nursing: Body Mind Spirit. Leslie Sullivan sat down with us yesterday afternoon to talk about the acknowledgment of the work that nurses do.”

Leslie, “2020 was designated the year of the nurse, this is so amazing, by the World Health Organization which as you know Catherine is the health branch of the United Nations, so this is really a global thing. They chose 2020 it might sound a little silly but it’s Florence Nightingale’s 200 birthday. Florence Nightingale was the woman who established nursing as a profession because nursing was housework like cooking, sewing, and caring for children. Florence really established the profession by inaugurating education and skill set for nurses. It’s kind of interesting to me because I was never in history student, but when I was young I learned about the history of nursing and I want to think about it as good coming out of evil obviously nursing is a great good. It grew out of the evolution of technology and warfare. That was demonstrated in the Crimean war with Florence Nightengale. In the American Civil War in the United States we had Dotrhy Adicks and Clara Barton and those were two nurses called upon by the army’s of the north and south.  Actually two women, I shouldn’t say nurses because there was no such thing as a nurse, it was like a home cook. But the army’s of the north and south sent out calls to women to come and help care for the wounded because the evolution of military technology was such that the Corman in the army could no longer care for the patients.  So women were asked to come forward and they did and they brought all their skills with them and to us it’s basic skills like hygiene and nutrition but at the time it saved thousands and thousands and thousands of lives. When the soldiers returned home they were so grateful to have for the nursing care in to the people who provided they actually set aside funding for nursing schools. I’m from Boston and we had the first nursing schools. Yea very exciting! For me I think as the profession becomes more highly regarded and because we are more visible then more and more men are joining us, and it’s a wonderful thing. It is still predominantly female that’s true we have about six nurses per thousand residents in the United States but only 1.9 nurses per thousand residents in Hawaii so there is a nursing shortage.”

Catherine, “ And talk about that because I know we’ve done stories where we’ve had the traveling nurses specialized fields that we just don’t have the man power.”

Leslie, “So nursing technology evolves as healthcare technology evolves nursing is becoming more and more specialized and nurses have individual skill sets.  In my younger days a nurse, was a nurse, was a nurse, and go into the hospital and work on essentially on any unit we didn’t and we just begun telemetry very basic and the operating room was very basic and one nurse could fill in for another and but now we have so many specialties in such such diverse body of knowledge we have nurses to work in the cardiac catheterization lab, we have nurses to take care of mothers and babies, we have nurses in the community, we have nurses who help people be the best they can be across all sub-specialities that’s one of our theory’s is we want people to be the best they can be and meet them where they are. Kids in the third grade we teach them how to brush their teeth, teenagers we teach them to stay away from alcohol and drugs, and then all the problems that come along with aging we take care of patients that are on the heart and lung pump; obviously you know ventilators so every skill set is different and a nurse, is not a nurse, is not a nurse. In Hawaii you know is geographically very separate from the mainland and I think it’s difficult for mainland nurses to up root themselves and move to Hawaii.”

Catherine, “We’ve got a situation to where the nurses have to keep up their education and you’ve got a big conference coming up.”

Leslie, “So that’s really where I live I’ve been around for a while. I started as a nurse practitioner in 1981 and I started teaching nursing in 1986, so I always did both things I taught initially part-time and then as I got older I taught full-time and I saw patients full-time initially, then part-time. We started with continuing education, in Massachusetts and many states on the mainland, probably back in the late 1980s. The idea is you can’t just graduate from your program or from your baccalaureate or diploma program or RN program or now even your DPN and not go to school anymore because technology evolves and evolves almost on a daily basis. The New England Journal of Medicine comes out every month and we have a wealth of empirical research in nursing new skills, new facts, new clinical pearls so you can’t just rely on your fundamental nursing education as a nurse you need to stay current with you know what’s going on now in order to provide the best care for your patients.”

Catherine, “I’m sure it’s hard here for the nurse‘s here, you know because there are certain classes you need and you’re under a particular time frame.”

Leslie, “Three years ago the Hawaii state legislature voted that nurses need to earn on 30 contact hours of continuing education for a two year license renewal. People didn’t really know what to do about that it was new in Hawaii and there was a lot of conversation and discussion how we were going to do this we can’t lose our licenses we need to stay current and the way the legislation was framed was continuing clinical competency so that’s our goal is to keep people current and competent.

I had moved here from Massachusetts I retired from UMass Boston and was lucky enough and fortunate enough to be able to relocate to Hawaii and teach at UH I got a little adjunct job there and when this legislation passed people didn’t really know what to do so I and some of my nurse colleagues decided to step up to the plate. I have done this before Massachusetts many years ago so we corresponded with American nurses Association and the Wisconsin Nurses Association who works with us more directly and we came up with some curricular that we devised and got it accredited and started offering programs in Hawaii for nurses to keep up the contact hours.  

We finished our first licensing cycle back in June and people got relicensed and they really enjoyed the conferences. Besides being mandated are we try to make them fun. You can go online and take a distance education program to earn contact hours but for us we try to make it an event. Nurses come together we have good fellowship and camaraderie we always try to do something with stress management we open our classes with a little chair yoga, nothing strenuous, I have a good friend who’s a Cordon Bleu Chef and she gives a beautiful catering breakfast and lunch for our conferences. As I have said it’s by nurses for nurses so we keep the price’s very very low we don’t  turn a significant profit and what we do earn goes back into the program. 

Now we have a great conference coming up. A celebrity one, in honor of the year is a nurse 2020 and it also corresponds with International Women’s Day. We’re not shunning our male nurses, are a huge feminists, their amazing, and so the conference in March corresponds with that and we’re gonna have a lot of fun.”

Catherine, “OK so the people then that you hope to attract to this conference are people that need those credits to keep their licensure.”

Leslie, “Yes that’s the motivation. Is people, you know Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we do what we have to do, but the conference is a very enjoyable and this one in particular it’s called Nursing: Body Mind Spirit and it’s two days. We address the physical, mental, emotional spiritual needs of all people because as you know nurse’s are notoriously selfless.  Selfless sounds like a good thing to be, does it not, but for the nurse it is really not. We place our patience first and that’s why we’re the most trusted profession in the United States for the last 20 years. I think the Gallup Polls have said it is the most trusted.

People feel that we are very invested in them but the downside is that nurses don’t take very good care of themselves. Our programs have a goal of providing a nurturing experience and teaching nurses how to look after themselves the way they look after others.”

Catherine, “Kind of pamper yourself.“

Leslie, “A little bit, a little bit, It’s Important, It’s important.” 

Catherine, “The conference is in March but you need people to sign up in advance.”

Leslie, “  The conference is March 10 and 11th in Waikiki. All the conferences pretty much sell out and this is going to be bigger because we have a bigger and more beautiful venue than ever with air-conditioning and free parking and lots and lots of nice things. The conferences do sell out and I hate for nurses to be disappointed. I try to squeeze people in as best I can.

This is March 10th and 11th and it’s in Waikiki our website is hawaiinursesce.com. We have blogs that come out that support nursing and address different topics in nursing as well as the conferences and we try to create a mutually supportive and caring community for nurses, that sometimes we don’t get the workplace.”

Catherine, “Ok this conference is going to be at the Ala Wai Golf Course.”

Leslie, “Yes, it’s at the Golf Course a beautiful venue, as I said, I hope people will take the time to nurture themselves and come and join us.”

Catherine, “That was nurse Leslie Sullivan talking about an upcoming workshop for nurses. At Hawaii Public Radio.”