A record-breaking number of Children's Hospital Boston nurses were recipients of this year's Excellence in Nursing awards, which are given by the New England Regional Black Nurses Association (NERBNA) to a handful of outstanding African-American nurses. This year, NERBNA chose 11 winners from local hospitals and institutions—and four of them are from Children's. "It's never happened before that so many are from the same place," says Margaret Brown, president of NERBNA. "We couldn't make a choice between them, they were all so good."
Eileen Sporing, MSN, RN, senior vice president of Patient Care Operations, was thrilled. "I couldn't be prouder of them," she says. "They're all role models who are making significant contributions to their field."
After the gala awards ceremony for the winners and their colleagues at the Copley Marriott on February 9, Children's News talked to each of Children's proud winners.
New graduate nurse Gonçalves-Timas may have just joined Children's last September, but she knew the hospital well, having come here for her own primary care her whole life, up until last year. These regular visits to Children's were what first inspired her to work here, but the idea really took hold when her sister was hospitalized at Children's for a week. "I met the best nurses and doctors during that time," says Gonçalves-Timas. "I was so impressed."
She went on to study nursing at UMASS, Amherst, and is now a staff nurse in the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Program on 6 West, caring for children with a variety of oncologic, genetic and other diseases requiring transplants. Gonçalves-Timas is a big supporter of the hospital's diversity recruitment efforts and frequently returns to her alma matter, Boston's Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, to encourage students to enter the health care field. When she's not helping others with their educations, she's busy advancing her own. She's fluent in Cape Verdean Creole, Portuguese, Spanish and English, and is working to get certified as a pediatric oncology nurse. "People always ask me if it's depressing working with children with cancer," she says. "But I tell them that they're just kids—so even when they're sick, they still smile."
Akins-Crichlow is nothing if not determined. When she had a baby at 16, she was resolute about not dropping out of school. Instead, she graduated on time with her class of 1989, supporting her son by working various nursing assistant jobs. She went on to enroll in Roxbury Community College and transferred to Simmons' nursing program. "My inspiration was my son," she says. "He was my motivation to keep strong and to not give up on my dreams of becoming a nurse and helping others."
Her passion has made her stand out on 9 North, where she's a permanent charge nurse at night on a busy, high-acuity neuroscience floor that includes the sleep center. She's led the way with planning implementation of the electronic medical record on the unit, and has been extremely involved in teaching her floor how to use the CHAMPS program.
As determined about her future as ever, Akins-Crichlow just passed her national boards for neuroscience nursing and will soon be going back to school. "I love computerized health, so I'm leaning toward studying informatics," she says. "But of course, after I get a degree, I'd still want to work here."
Mathieu was a businesswoman for several years before discovering her true calling in nursing. As it turns out, when she swapped business for nursing, Mathieu fulfilled a long-held prediction from her family, who'd always thought she'd make a terrific nurse. "When I was a little girl, everyone called me 'Nursey,' because I was always taking care of someone," she says. Now, working nights on 7 West in the Intermediate Care Program, Mathieu knows her family was right. "From day one, it was like I became a mother. And it's still the best challenge of my life."
Mathieu plays a nurturing role when she's not at the bedside, too, supervising and mentoring clinical assistants. She's fluent in French, allowing her to offer a level of communication with French-speaking patients that very few nurses can. "You could pay me whatever you want, I'll never switch careers," Mathieu says. "I love the children so much, they're a part of me."
Baichoo, who was born and raised in Boston, has always wanted a job that would let her give back to the community she knew and loved. It didn't take her long to discover that working with Boston's diverse population as a nurse was a great way to do just that. Extremely driven, Baichoo went right from college to holding a nursing job at Children's while earning her Master's in Science at Northeastern University, where she graduated summa cum laude.
As comfortable in a teaching role as she is as a student, Baichoo is certified in Pediatric Advanced Life Support, IV placement and phlebotomy, and uses her training to mentor her colleagues on 9 South and in the Intermediate Care Program. Apart from helping coworkers, what Baichoo likes best about her job is the amount of contact she has with her acutely ill patients. "I really like the two-to-one nursing to patient ratio," she says. "It lets you give closer, more attentive care." Not one to slow down, Baichoo has plans to become a nurse practitioner. "This award is motivating," she says. "It makes me want to live up to the expectations of the meaning of 'excellence.'"