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Nurses Transforming Healthcare

In celebration of National Nurses Month, meet nurse innovators transforming healthcare across the U.S., underscoring the impact of the profession in advancing health equity, improving patient care, and strengthening health systems.
Nursing News & ProgramsNurses Leading Innovation

Nurses Transforming Healthcare


In celebration of National Nurses Month, meet nurse innovators transforming healthcare across the U.S., underscoring the impact of the profession in advancing health equity, improving patient care, and strengthening health systems.
Nurses Transforming Healthcare

Nurses are innovators, leaders, scientists, and fierce patient advocates, improving healthcare and patient outcomes across communities and in a wide variety of settings, every day.

In celebration of National Nurses Month, meet these nurse changemakers transforming healthcare. In health systems, retail clinics, community centers and beyond, these leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, and caregivers are working towards building a health care system of the future, where all people can access high quality healthcare, and all nurses and clinicians feel safe and supported in providing it.

These inspiring nurses are powerful examples of the nursing profession’s potential, and there are many more powerful nurse stories to tell. For further inspiration, we invite you to listen and subscribe to the SEE YOU NOW podcast, and sign up for the Notes on Nursing e-newsletter.

  • Angela Patterson, DNP, FNP-BC, NEA-BC, FAANP

    Angela Patterson, DNP, FNP-BC, NEA-BC, FAANP

    For people without access to traditional healthcare, the convenience and availability of retail care is revolutionary. Retail healthcare places nurses at the center of community-based care, where they are uniquely positioned to reach patients where they are, bridge care gaps, and improve health equity. CVS Health’s Angela Patterson, Vice President and Chief Nurse Practitioner Officer of Retail Health, sees the power of nurses in retail health clinics not only to provide routine vaccines and basic care, but to connect patients with primary care providers, help access specialists and, increasingly, provide wellness and behavioral health support.

    With fewer Americans having a primary care provider, the retail healthcare experience can empower patients and fill gaps in care – but to do this successfully, the model needs to be refined and updated over time. No one is closer to understanding how this model optimally works, than the nurses who are a core part of it. So it is vital that we have clear pathways in place where our nurses can provide feedback, recommendations and input, to better meet patient needs, and also tap into their feedback to modernize how we are supporting them around work, life, and finding a balance between them,” Patterson says.

    Read More: Meet the Nurse Executive Behind the Retail Healthcare Revolution

  • Bre Loughlin, MS, RN

    Bre Loughlin, MS, RN

    As the co-founder of Nurse Disrupted, a pandemic-born telehealth solution, Bre Loughlin is a fierce patient advocate for underserved and underrepresented communities. To provide quick and convenient access to COVID screenings in the height of the pandemic to the most vulnerable populations in her hometown of Madison, WI, Loughlin built and strategically installed care stations in the city’s shelters and community centers, that virtually connected them with nurses.

    But she didn’t stop there: from helping nursing students improve their tech skills and fulfill practicum hours, to gathering public health data for policymaking and expanding Nurse Disrupted virtual technology into hospitals and public spaces to better utilize nursing resources and take the pressure off of emergency services, Loughlin is committed to bettering her community’s health. Solving healthcare’s problems requires not only science and technology, but compassion and empathy. Designing solutions with humans at the center ensures “everyone gets across the finish line,” she says.

    Read More: Three Nurses Transforming Healthcare: How the J&J Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge is Accelerating Innovation

  • Betty Jo Rocchio, DNP, MS, RN, CRNA, CENP

    Betty Jo Rocchio, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Mercy, a multistate health system based in St. Louis, MO

    Can freedom and flexibility be a part of a nursing career? For Betty Jo Rocchio, Chief Nursing Officer, Mercy, the answer had to be yes. Under her leadership, the multistate health system based in St. Louis embraced a “gig” mindset for nurses, creating Mercy Works on Demand (MWOD), a novel app that puts scheduling choices in the hands of nurses.

    With a simple, one-stop scheduling solution, nurses pick up shifts that work best for them – even if it’s just for a few hours a week. Like apps for gig workers on popular ride-share or food delivery services, the MWOD platform allows full and part-time nurses to enter the workforce on their own terms. The app customizes itself to each user’s preferences. Core staff choose their preferred shifts, then flex co-workers fill in the gaps. Less-attractive shifts, like overnight hours, are incentivized at a higher rate to attract gig workers. “Nurses want more control over how they work, when they work, what units they work on, a professional balance between their personal lives,” she says. “Bringing back that joy of practice is key.”

    Read More: How Mercy Embraced Flexibility and Brought Joy Back to Nursing

  • Dallas Ducar, MSN, APRN

    Dallas Ducar

    Dallas Ducar is the CEO of Transhealth Northampton in Western Massachusetts, a comprehensive trans healthcare center built to empower transgender, diverse adults, children and families. Dallas is a champion for a healthcare system built on a foundation of affirming care, or “ensuring that people can be known, seen and understood for who they are.”

    It’s a model that benefits patients broadly, but for individuals who have had to demand rights and respect, it’s a particularly meaningful and healing experience. For the Transhealth team, the personal and professional values of justice, equity, and human dignity are the foundation of gender-affirming care. These same values also ensure nurses feel valued and have the space, support, and resources they need to care for patients – and responsively serve their community.

    Read More: Nothing About Us, Without Us

  • Ena Williams, PhD, R.N

    Ena Williams, Chief Nursing Officer at Yale New Haven Hospital, nursing profile

    As a student growing up in Jamaica, Ena Williams always knew she wanted to be a nurse. Her drive and dedication led her to become the first Black Chief Nursing Officer at Yale New Haven Hospital, one of the top facilities in the region.

    Williams is now responsible for more than 5,000 nurses and clinical staff, who she led through a global pandemic while achieving a third magnet designation for the health system. But it’s mentorship that fills her cup now – helping other nurses, especially nurses of color, create connections and open doors. Her work advances the careers of future nurse leaders and strengthens a diverse nursing workforce, representative of those it cares for. “When I came to Yale New Haven Hospital, there was no one beyond the nurse manager level who looked like me,” she says. “People want to see individuals like themselves who have achieved and overcome the same struggles they face.”

    Read More: This Innovative, Boundary-Breaking CNO Encourages Nurses of Color to Dream Big

  • Julie Kennedy Oehlert, DNP, RN

    Julie Kennedy Oehlert, DNP, RN

    Julie Kennedy Oehlert is obsessed with cultural transformation. With a design-thinking background, she leads with love and a laser focus on the human experience. In her role as Chief Experience Officer at Vidant Health in North Carolina, she’s responsible not only for the patient’s experience, but also for the day-to-day, the ups and downs, of every clinician and employee in the hospital.

    Her passion for culture disruption is palpable, and her–creative, problem-solving ethos led her to create many innovative solutions that improve patient experience and better support the clinical staff in their care delivery. “I think obsessively about new care models and support models for nurses,” she says. One example of this was creating a new patient experience coordinator position within the hospital. These coordinators improve the patient’s stay by addressing non-clinical requests and responsibilities, like getting a cup of coffee or a warm blanket. Nurses want their patients to feel cared for, and the small details matter. Oehlert’s approach is improving patient care and nurses’ satisfaction with their work, as they’re able to focus on their important clinical responsibilities with the peace of mind that patients’ needs are met.

    Read More: Caring for Those Who Care: Creating a Loving Culture for Nurses

  • Julius Johnson, DNP, RN, FNP-BC

    Julius Johnson, DNP, RN, FNP-BC

    For Julius Johnson, nursing runs in the family. As the son of an ICU nurse, Julius knows what it’s like to watch nurses face healthcare crises head-on and bring people back to health. Now, he follows in his father’s footsteps as a Black male nurse who advocates for Black men’s health as department chair of the School of Nursing at LIU Brooklyn - Long Island University and as a leader of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA).

    Despite some improvement in the disparities that affect Black men, their health consistently ranks lowest across nearly all groups in the United States, and a deep understanding of the Black community and the lived experiences of Black people inspires Johnson’s approach to community outreach. He meets people, especially Black men, where they feel safe and confident – like barbershops, dance clubs, sports fields, and churches – to build trust, open doorways to conversation, and encourage better health.

    READ MORE: From the Bedside to the Barbershop: The Natural Connection Between Nursing and Community Advocacy

  • Kathy Howell, MBA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC

    Kathy Howell, MBA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC

    “I’m always looking for the next thing to really innovate and build,” says Kathy Howell. “There are one million opportunities out there.” In her role as Chief Nursing Executive at UCHealth and University of Colorado Hospital, she sees innovation through the lens of removing the barriers to practice that nurses face.

    The work of caring for patients can be challenging and complex, but it’s deeply rewarding, she says. However, non-clinical challenges, like technology issues or missing supplies, can create frustrations, burnout, and impact patient care. “Our innovation efforts have been focused on improving the care environment for nurses,” she says. From adding technology technicians to implementing virtual nursing support for those at the bedside, Howell and her team are building a health system where nurses get added support to do what they do best – with as minimal disruptions and frustrations as possible.

  • Ravenne Aponte, BA, RN, BSN & Joanna Seltzer Uribe, RN, MSN

    Joanna Seltzer Uribe and Ravenne Aponte

    This duo is changing the narrative about nursing’s history – and its future. As co-creators of Nurses You Should Know, Ravenne Aponte and Joanna Seltzer Uribe are working to drive awareness to the contributions of nurses of color. Aponte, a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, studies the history of nursing, and advocates for a better understanding of nursing’s history to solve the challenges of today. “We've been able to bring stories from academia, from history, from the archives and bring it to nurses who are at the bedside and out in the community, taking care of patients,” she says. “We've been able to share these stories, to help nurses think about the complexity of nursing's past and ways that they can transform and change the issues that they're seeing.”

    Uribe, a clinical informatics nurse and a former Johnson & Johnson Nurse Innovation Fellow, works at the intersection of nursing, technology, design, education and innovation, and is equally invested in bringing humanity back to the bedside. "Nurses aren’t angels, martyrs, or superheroes,” she says. “We’re human, and it's through a connection with our own humanity that compels us to show up and be there for others.”

  • Pat Patton, DNP, MSN, RN, NEA-BC

    image of Pat Patton

    Pat Patton, Chief Nursing Executive at USCF Health, turned his bedside nursing knowledge and experience into real-world results in addressing the nursing shortage with innovation and creativity. His secret? Listening. Early in his career, he had less-than-stellar work experience in which hospital staff weren't encouraged to speak up, something that informed his professional philosophy of simply listening to nurses to implement meaningful change- one nurse at a time.

    Putting nurses first is the foundation of his leadership, and simple as it may sound, the practice of listening to nurses – really listening to their fears, concerns, questions and ideas – has had an unmistakable impact at USCF. In 2022, the health system’s RN yearly turnover rate of 9.5% stands out in comparison to the national hospital turnover rate of 22%. Knowing what nurses want gives Patton many opportunities to help nurses grow and thrive, from encouraging them to seek higher education to reintegrating nurses who have been out of the workforce back into it with compassion and ease.

    READ MORE: One Nurse at a Time: How UCSF Health is Working to Prevent Turnover

    For more, find out what these nurse innovators hope for the future of nursing below, and find other videos here.

    A Vision for the Future of Nursing

    For healthcare to work, it takes nurses, which is why Johnson & Johnson has proudly celebrated and supported the nursing profession for more than 125 years. To learn more about Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to the nursing profession, click here.

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