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Celebrating a Nurse Who Leads the Way

On NAC Day and during Nurses Week, we’d like to recognize a nurse who is leading the way in long-term care. Stacey Poldervaart from Friendship Haven in Fort Dodge, IA, was recently awarded the Cheryl M. Thomas Scholarship at the 2017 AANAC Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO. We hope you enjoy reading her inspiring story about her goals, her strengths, and her hopes for the future.

My name is Stacey Poldervaart. I am currently a registered nurse, working in a long term care facility. My current position is staff development coordinator. I also have earned my certification rehabilitation registered nurse (CRRN).

I went back to school in 2005 to pursue my career in nursing. I have always enjoyed learning.  School has been easier for me in the past. I have recently found myself looking for opportunities to grow in my career and expand my knowledge in nursing. I have also sought opportunities to educate team members on skills, critical thinking techniques and communication. I had the opportunity to develop a rehabilitation curriculum with the therapy supervisor for further education of the team members in the short term neighborhood. This has sparked my interest in teaching others on a different level. 

My personal goal after graduation would encompass several different things. The first thing would be to continue to learn and grow in my nursing career. Another goal would be to appreciate others perspectives in nursing. The most important goal to me however would be to have a positive influence on future health science students. The lives that they will touch every day and the impact students will have on the health of others is incredible. This is something that every nurse should not take for granted. 

My professional goal is simpler. I would like to teach nursing at the college level. I feel that my current knowledge, experience, values and future learning will create a dynamic learning environment for future students. I am hopeful that this would inspire more students to be interested in the long term care. I would strive to create a dynamic, interactive learning experience for the health science students. I would challenge their ability to utilize critical thinking techniques as this is something that will be utilized every day.

Graduate education will allow me to achieve my personal and professional goals. This education will allow me to think outside the box, be challenged by others theories or thoughts and expose myself to even higher learning. I expect this education to challenge my thinking by offering varying views of nursing concepts that I can incorporate in teaching others. The health science field is always evolving and being open to the changes in skills set, regulatory, and otherwise is important to embrace.

One of my personal strengths—as I have been told—is my ability to speak well in front of others. I am able to relate with many on very different levels, ensuring that the content is understood. I have spoken at many “Lunch and Learns” presented where I work. I strive to see all points of view, respecting their perceptions. I choose not to make decisions quickly if there is time. I believe in knowing and accepting when a decision warrants more time to contemplate. I believe that I am knowledgeable, accountable, caring, organized and loyal to something when I am committed to it. These strengths I feel I carry over in my professional life also. 

I believe that everyone has areas for development in both their personal and professional lives as these areas often intertwine and make us the person that we are or strive to be. I strive to be more diplomatic when working with others. I do feel that I sometimes reflect more on the personal side of a situation instead of just looking at the facts of it. I tend to take things—such as family concerns, team members complaints, etc—on a personal basis. I strive to make everyone happy. I need to realize that this may be something that is just not attainable. I can only help to develop the skills and cares of the team using these concerns as a teaching tool. 

My personal perception of graduate education is something that one strives for in order to achieve more internal gratification. It allows one to pursue different career paths in their future. It can satisfy the need for more learning, growing and developing of a person. I do not believe that graduate education means that you are “smarter” than another person. I believe that graduate education can be a powerful complement to experience. Experience can be more valuable at the right time. 

I appreciate the time and consideration taken to read my essay. I had hoped to convey my goals and future desires as I strive to pursue my RN-MSN degree in nursing education. Thank you for this opportunity.