By Jackie Gunby, RN, BSN, CCRN
Critical Care nurse May Kay Bolam is full of ideas. She sees a broken system and visualizes how it should be. She was not recruited by the Unit Practice Council at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center because she is popular (even though she is), she was selected because of her willingness to serve and fix the system. If you ask her co-workers why she was a good candidate, they will invariably tell you she can be counted on to do the right thing for the patient and for the unit and will persist against resistance.
She co-wrote the Targeted Temperature Management policy. She tirelessly researched evidence to support it, and worked with physicians and the educators to create an updated physician order set and is considered the resident authority. She also saw that patients and their families sometimes become overwhelmed with the critical illnesses that bring them into the hospital. Patients sometimes lose their dignity and self-respect in a dependent environment. She recognized this. So she developed a Spa Therapy basket. This brightened not only patients and their families but also warmed the staff. A new hairdo, haircut, manicure, and or pedicure at times are just what is needed to make the patient feel like a “person” again.
She makes it her business to know all of the new updates, meds, charting, and Joint Commission requirements. Her nursing practice is filled with these provisions. However, compassion and caring is also a large part of the mixture. When nurses, physicians, or ancillary personnel behave in a manner that is unprofessional she does not shy away from it. She is able to establish, in a non-offensive way, the benefits of an alternative action. She is extremely conscientious and dedicated to providing sound, quality care and would never leave any assignment incomplete.
She comes in early to ready herself for her patient assignment. By the time she reaches the bedside, she knows every diagnosis, potential diagnosis, medication, procedure, and lab result on that patient. If she sees something undone, she contacts the physician and advocates on the patient’s behalf. Or if something isn’t working, she again advocates for an alternative. She provides exceptional support and caring and her patients long remember her kindness. She took the time to put together a bedside anniversary celebration for a patient and his wife complete with a special gift she purchased for the occasion. The wife keeps that beloved gift in a special place in her house. She will sometimes follow a patient to another unit and assist the family in navigating through the healthcare system by offering education and links to outside agencies. Her caring doesn’t stop at discharge – Mary Kay has continued to make herself available to patients and families post discharge.
She is quick to let staff know when they have done a good job. She consistently motivates those around her to do the right thing, the hard thing, the not-popular thing and the required thing even if it takes more time. She makes our unit a better place to work.
This is someone that I consider a true role model. She is gifted with a constant smile that is genuine, a positive attitude even under unpleasant circumstances, and never complains, even when she has every right to do so. She always assists other staff members with difficult patient assignments and has volunteered to take admissions and third patient assignments when needed. She is known to be a great resource person, and because she believes in the merits of nursing as a true profession, she recently completed her BSN while working full-time.
When I see commercials on television expounding the virtues of nursing, the non-judgmental desire to make a difference in every life we touch, I am humbled by the privilege to be a part of this profession. And when I think of all those attributes, I think of Mary Kay.
For more information, visit www.conemaugh.com.