A look into the future of nursing with Sister Carol Keehan

One of my favorite traditions at Providence is the Distinguished Nursing Lectureship held each year during Nurses Week. The speakers are always inspiring and thought-provoking, and this year was no exception.

Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, delivered this year’s address. She is one of the leading voices in health care nationally and a tireless advocate for the poor and vulnerable.

Last week at Providence, she talked about the opportunities and challenges ahead for nursing, from emerging science and technology that will transform the way we treat, if not cure, disease to the need to get back to the basics of promoting healthy and balanced lifestyles.

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Sister Carol was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world in 2010. She delivered the sixth-annual Distinguished Nursing Lectureship to Providence nurses last week. (Running time 59:26)

What makes Sister Carol’s perspective so powerful and authentic is that she is a nurse first and foremost.

“We will still be the person closest to the patient,” she said in last week’s live webcast to the 27,000 nurses across Providence. “We have a special responsibility to patients that is not to be taken lightly. When you ask the American people who do they trust, nurses are always at the top of the list. That’s a special trust, and we need to continue to be worthy of it.”

Her perspective also has significance because she has known Providence well for years and has seen the passion and commitment of our nurses firsthand.

“I can tell you as someone who knows the people in your system well, you are all on the same page. You want excellence and compassion, and you want it for everyone. You don’t want it just for those who can afford it or for those who are important in the community. You want it for everyone. As nurses, you are the people who know what that looks like better than anyone.”

Our nurses show us what it means to respect every individual

I couldn’t agree with Sister Carol more. The nurses at Providence and our affiliates are a wonderful example for us all. Each day, they show us what it means to respect the dignity of every human being. They are also a role model for what it means to serve those at their most vulnerable.

From Valdez, Alaska to the inner city of Los Angeles to the mountains of Missoula, the thread that ties Providence together is our nurses and their compassion and commitment to excellence. Though National Nurses Week formally comes to a close tomorrow, our nurses inspire us and bring our Mission to life all year round, and for that I am personally grateful. Thank you, nurses of Providence, for all you do for the communities we serve.

For those of you who missed last week’s lecture, I encourage you to watch the recording, which is now available in its entirety online. I am also including a link to a great 10-minute conversation with Sister Carol and two of our nursing leaders, Providence Health & Services chief nursing officer (CNO) Deb Burton and our California region CNO Katherine Bullard. It is definitely worth watching.

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Bonus material: Providence nursing leaders Deb Burton and Katherine Bullard sit down for an informal conversation with Sister Carol. (Running time 10:10)