Denver, CO – “I was in and out of hospitals when I was young, and I admired the nurses who took care of me,” recalls Sharon Baker. “In grade school, l I learned about Florence Nightingale and she has been my hero ever since. I even wrote my thesis on her. For Florence Nightingale, everything was based on the patients.”
Sharon Baker is a nurse executive at National Jewish Health, a community hospital and academic research center, where she manages an in-patient unit, as well as three infusion units, including oncology.
Baker makes sure all her nurses are cross-trained so they're the experts in their various areas.
“For me it's always about the patient. we're here to take care of them. They might be cranky, but if I had what they had, I'd be cranky, too,” says Baker. “You have to have the passion for nursing,” says Baker. “The key to my success is passion. Passion affects everything I do.”
Of course, says Baker, the dynamics of nursing have changed over time. Today’s nurses aren’t taught the basics anymore.
“For newcomers entering the field, nursing is very hard right now,” says Baker. “I do see people going into nursing, not because they want to be a nurse but because they feel like it's a steady job, they'll have an income.”
As more and more hospitals are driven by data, the human connection necessary for healing has become marginalized. Dr. Baker says she would like to see healthcare take advantage of the experience of older nurses in the future.
“What can we do differently in nursing that we haven't done?” says Dr. Baker. “Let's show a better way to do it.”