Nursing Excellence Initiative

Why the Nursing Excellence Initiative?

When patients face extraordinary health challenges, the nurses at Abbott Northwestern are ready to respond.

But patient care is changing quickly. Our population is aging, and patients are hospitalized with more complex health conditions than in the past.

We need to prepare our nurses for next generation health care. 

Nursing Excellence graphic 1

Nursing Excellence is a $7.5 million multi-year fundraising initiative that will help Abbott Northwestern provide exceptional patient care through excellence in nursing. When you make a gift to our Nursing Excellence fund, you help nurses advance their education, develop specialized clinical skills and expertise, and pursue research that improves patient care.

Your support ensures that our nurses can thrive in a complex and ever-changing environment – and that means the best possible care for our patients.

Meet a few of our nurses and learn how donors have made a difference in their careers

[MUSIC PLAYING] I knew since I was a freshman in high school that nursing was my calling, I have a younger brother, and I remember my mom telling me that I always wanted to just care for him. And I would always watch out for him, and make sure that he was safe. I never questioned my profession, never questioned what I wanted to do once I had to make that decision. So it's always been nursing for me.

I had 31 years at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. The nursing profession really meant a great deal to me in a personal way, because I had chronic illness in my personal family. And it really was amazing how it changed part of my life.

A few years ago, I was in a volunteer program after I retired called Patient Partners at Abbott Northwestern. And that's when I decided I wanted to give back a little bit more in a financial way. So this is when I looked into with the foundation and set up the nursing scholarship.

First time I met Chardea, we had coffee in the coffee shop at Abbott Northwestern. And this very vital, bright, happy, smiling, energetic person came, sat down, and she actually told her story a little bit, her understanding, her issues, her schooling, her daughter, being a single mother. And she just has a very joyful demeanor.

Receiving the scholarship, it will allow me to finish my RN Schooling, which I'll graduate in May. It's going to help me get one step closer to becoming an RN and being able to work as a nurse that I've worked so hard for over the past almost four years now.

The scholarship that I received has impacted me personally. I am a single mother to a four-year-old daughter. Her name's Lucia. I actually would have been able to cut back on FTE a little bit, rather than working a full 1.0. I cut back a few days so that way, I could study more, and be at home with my daughter more.

So being able to be there for her and watch her grow, it's been great. It's been a stress reliever. My grades have improved. My test grades have improved. So that way, just having those two days that I have taken off-- so you have really, really helped me, as far as my last-- the scholarship itself has covered my fall semester and part of my spring semester. So it's a weight off my shoulders, and I cannot thank you enough. And I know me and my daughter are forever grateful

It means a great deal to me too, your appreciation.

Thank you so much. 

Jane Wachtler Becker Award supporting nursing excellence                                                          

[MUSIC PLAYING] I've always been attracted to the nursing profession. But I would say the thing that solidified what I wanted to do was when my soccer coach had died from cancer. His daughter, who I played with all year, pretty much from grade school on up, told me that the nurses taking care of her dad made all the difference. So that was when it solidified, and I was like, that's what I want to do with my life.

--to reach our team goal of a million.

I created a scholarship fund for nurses because it was a lot of things coming together at the same time in my life. And one of them was my wife was a nurse. Her name was Jane Locklear-Becker. She had gotten cancer and passed away, and I wanted to do something to memorialize her. In her last weeks, she was a patient at Abbott. And the care that she got from the nurses, and actually, the care that I got from the nurses in those last weeks was just, I thought, so exceptional that it was really something that I wanted to honor and to reward.

When I read Alina's application, it did stand out, first of all, that she was in the mental health area, which is where Jane started as a nurse. So that connected with me right away. But also, just that there was a certain passion there that she really enjoyed what she did.

In nursing school, I was trying to find my niche, I guess you could say. And when we got to the mental health section, I was just totally intrigued by that and wanted to learn more. So I got a scholarship-- or an internship, I should say, at HCMC and totally loved it, and their mental health. And then, from there, I just had interest in it. And that's what led to it.

It's important, I would say, to invest in nurses because they are the ones on the front lines. If I was ever in a hospital needing medical care, I would certainly want the best qualified, best able person to be providing that care for me. So why wouldn't I want to do that?

The thing that excites me most about being at work is knowing that I do have the opportunity every day to make a difference. I feel very grateful. At the end of my nursing career, I hope to be a nurse practitioner, as that's kind of what I'm going for now, the mental health nurse practitioner. And obviously, I hope to be able to help and make a difference in as many patients' lives doing that as I can.

At the end of my life, let's say, I would hope to be able to look back and say, I did what I could to help. And that's everyone's mission, I think. It should be, at least, in life. And to be able to help Alina and others get more education, and advanced degrees, and so forth, is to be able to touch them in a positive sense, and to be able to send them out to touch others. And so, of course, it's the whole ripples on the lake thing when you're throwing the pebble in. And hopefully that creates nothing but good in this world. And certainly, we can use as much of that as we can get.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Learn more

Nursing Excellence Initiative case statement 

Preparing for tomorrow’s patient care needs  

Nursing Excellence at Abbott Northwestern                                                                                                                                                                                             

[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi, Claudia.

Hi.

Hi, my name's Megan. I'm going to be your nurse today.

Hi, Megan.

I remember being in kindergarten and they go around in a circle and they say what you want to be when you grow up, and I remember saying that I wanted to be a nurse and I wanted to take care of babies.

People ask you, oh, what do you do, or if you're in your scrubs, are you a nurse? Where do you work? And I can't think of a time that anyone wasn't like, wow, you work at Abbott? They're incredible.

What is it about Abbott Northwestern that differentiates it from other really good healthcare institutions in the environment?

What makes the nurses special at Abbott Northwestern Hospital is their attitudes.

A strange feeling.

It feels weird. Yeah.

Yeah.

Nurses are the listeners. They really are there to help understand what the patient needs.

Sometimes you get caught up into the technical facets of care, and the nurses can draw you back to the patient.

The Magnet Recognition Program is really an honor for all of our staff. It highlights the great work that nurses do each and every day and really demonstrates that we're among the best hospitals across the world.

There's such a sense of community here at Abbott between ancillary staff, nursing staff, physicians, and people always have one common goal.

The nurse-physician communication is second to none. If we want to maintain our position as the forerunner of health care, we have to invest in our nurses.

Nurses have been such a integral part of Abbott Northwestern.

The whole role of nurses is expanding dramatically. The skill sets that nurses need to have is continually growing, and so continuing education, just like in any other major profession, needs to be an important part of it.

There is a philosophical message to our nurses that we want them to be able to go get that training and to bring it back to us and bring it really to our patients.

Abbott Northwestern is a gift. It is a family, it is a legacy, and it is a place where the giving is never ending.

It's absolutely critical that we not only attract but retain the absolute best quality nurses.

I love the challenge of taking care of patients, the emotional support you give patients. The reward at the end of the day is priceless.

When a patient or a family member taps you on the shoulder and says to you, thank you for everything you've done for my mom or for me, that to me makes my day. 

Magnet Recognition Program®

Magnet logo

Designated since 2009 by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice