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August 01, 2018 (Cleveland)

Pamela Waite Delivers Commencement Address to Chamberlain University’s Graduating Nurses

Pamela Waite Delivers Commencement Address to Chamberlain University’s Graduating NursesEvery year, thousands of newly minted nurses don their caps and gowns, commemorate the completion of their studies at graduation ceremonies, and enter the workforce in Ohio. If you could share a message with some of them, what would you say?

On Friday, July 13, Pamela Waite, a 40-year veteran of the nursing profession, had just that opportunity. Ms. Waite, who leads the nursing workforce and behavioral health initiative for The Center for Health Affairs, gave the commencement address for the nursing graduating class at Chamberlain University. 

She used this opportunity to inspire and encourage the new graduates and to deliver a message about what she sees as the most pressing issues facing the profession. She underscored the importance of remembering that at its core nursing is about caring, even in an environment that emphasizes outcomes, protocols and technology.

“We are a holistic profession in that we care not only for the physiologic and medical needs of patients but also their social, mental and spiritual needs,” said Waite. 

She reminded them of the long history of the profession and the important contributions of leaders like Florence Nightingale, Virginia Henderson and Jan Watson, who all helped shape nursing into what it is today. 

She urged the new nurses to also care for themselves as they work through demanding, stressful and emotionally difficult experiences. She highlighted the necessity of developing the ability to recognize the amount of trauma they absorb from others – patients, families, co-workers – and to develop a mechanism for managing and releasing their stress.

And she offered the graduating nurses a few pieces of career advice:

  • To stay at the bedside or in direct patient care for a while to get experience and become experts in their specialties. She advised them that the advanced practice nurses who are most respected and valued have good solid experience in their backgrounds.
  • To consider working with those patients who have substance addictions or psychiatric diagnoses or with the elderly. While few nurses tend to pursue these areas of care, these are some of the most rewarding specialties in nursing, she told them.
  • To consider someday getting involved in leadership roles in order to help grow the next generation of nurses.

In her parting words, Waite offered them encouragement, acknowledging that those first days and months working as a nurse following graduation can be overwhelming. She advised them to be patient with themselves, learn all they can from seasoned nurses, and have confidence in the skill and knowledge they’ve obtained through their education. 

Pam Waite, MSN, RN-BC, MHSA, is director of Healthcare Workforce, NEONI Operations and Behavioral Health Initiatives for The Center for Health Affairs.

For more information about Pamela Waite and her work at The Center, contact us.