"The Fellowship has given me the ability to overcome imposter syndrome and realize that I do have the skills and capabilities to impact change, to lead change, and to be a strong advocate for my patients."
Timothy W. Thomas has worked as a registered nurse for 18 years and started his career in the U.S. Army at the original Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC). At WRAMC, he wrote a policy on pressure ulcer prevention and treatment that was later utilized as the framework for a hospital-wide policy. After a short tour in Iraq, he did an inter-service transfer from the U.S. Army to the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). In his current position as Regional Nurse Consultant/Medical Asset Support Team RN for the Southeast Region, he has led a team of nurses to develop evidence-based nursing protocols for urgent/emergent situations and for nonemergent, routine care.
He has also co-led the development of the Nursing Services Program Statement for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In December 2014, he was awarded a full scholarship through the American Nurses Association (ANA) to complete his master’s in Nursing in Leadership and Administration at Capella University, which he completed in March 2017. He has worked with the ANA on researching Barriers to RN Scope of Practice and is currently working with the ANA to revise the Correctional Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice manual.
Tim’s J&J Nursing Innovation Fellow Journey
Tim joined the Fellowship to improve the quality of care for his patient population and gain leadership experience and skills that he had previously only read about in books. The focus of his innovation project was to change one word: inmate. In some corrections facilities, staff who are accustomed to referring to patients as inmates might not realize the extent to which the word carries negative connotations and impacts the care that they provide. The nurse’s role is not to punish the inmate, the nurse’s role is to care for the patient. Over the course of the Fellowship, Tim presented his research on the importance of using humanizing language at the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) Spring Symposium and used this research as the basis for a white paper recommending terminology changes across all BOP documentation, which he submitted to his agency leadership.
Tim remains hopeful and grateful for the support of the Fellowship. He recounts the experience as both humbling and impactful, since the program provided him with the skills and tools to magnify his impact. Tim credits the Fellowship with providing amazing connections and leadership training that have given him opportunities to continue to advocate for his patient population. He was recently selected by Admiral Aisha Mix to lead the team to update the Federal Public Health Service Nursing Strategic Plan, a connection he credits to his time in the Fellowship.
Meet J&J Nurse Innovation Fellow Timothy Thomas: