Current faculty at Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, Donna M. Thompson, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BC, CCRN, CHASE, is one of many nurses in her family. She shares her experiences of working with family members and her joy that nursing will continue in her family into the next generation.
I come from a family of nurses and grew up hearing tales involving healthcare, so becoming a nurse was in my blood. My parents are both retired ICU nurses. My aunt, my cousin, and both of my sisters are nurses, while my mother-in-law is a retired OR nurse. I learned different aspects of nursing from each of my parents. My mother is the epitome of a “Nancy Nurse.” She advocates for her patients while delivering excellent patient care in a nurturing fashion. My father liked to joke around at work but he utilized his intelligence and experience to put his patients first.
While I was attending Fairview General Hospital School of Nursing, I was hesitant to give injections, knowing that I personally hated to be on the receiving end. My mother told me “someone has to give the patient that medicine, so it might as well be you.” This really put things in perspective for me. Although giving the injection would momentarily hurt, it was for the patient’s benefit. There are interventions we do for our patients that are uncomfortable, but in the end, they are what is needed to provide high quality patient care.
I have always enjoyed orienting new nurses, precepting nursing students and being a resource to my peers. One of my sisters and I went on to get our graduate degrees, she as an ACNP and I as an AGCNS. I was excited to be hired by the prestigious Frances Payne Bolton (FPB) School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). I love engaging the students in the clinical setting, providing them opportunities to practice new skills, fostering their interprofessional communication by encouraging them to participate in unit rounds, and pointing out examples of how to “think like a nurse.” My passion for simulation started while teaching American Heart Association courses at the Cleveland Clinic, as well as resuscitation simulations and coordinating labs for FPB. By writing simulation scenarios, I am able to engage students in many situations they may not encounter in clinicals, but which are important to their complete education.
During my nursing career, I have been fortunate to be able to work with several of my family members. I first started working with my mother--she worked a weekend program while I worked through the week. At one point, for three years, I worked with both of my sisters and my mother in the same ICU. None of us was in a position of leadership, and we all have a strong work ethic, which made for a good working relationship. My sisters even did travel nursing together. My daughter Kailey recently earned her BSN from Notre Dame College and she will be working in the same ICU in which I am a PRN staff nurse. I am hopeful that I may get to work with Laney, a sophomore at FPB, when she graduates. Laney’s twin sister is studying psychology.
Some have asked if it is strange to work with a family member and I can honestly say I have enjoyed all my experiences working with my family. I wish I had been able to work with my father before he retired, but all the tales over the years have reinforced the kind of nurse he was. I am proud to be part of my family of nurses and I am delighted that two of my daughters are following in the family profession!