Recognized for her commitment to nursing shared governance
Despite the vital role nurses play in patient care, their voices are sometimes overlooked in key administrative decisions within hospitals. When Anaheim Regional Medical Center set out to change this, they didn’t expect a newly minted nurse to help lead the charge.
Jessica Estep’s interest in nursing began as a high school volunteer at Anaheim Regional Medical Center and she continued her progression as a unit secretary, nursing assistant and now as a registered nurse in a telemetry unit. Her interest has grown into a passion for advancing the profession on behalf of other nurses and the patients they serve. When Estep learned that her hospital was creating a Shared Governance Program, she was one of the first nurses to identify the extraordinary impact the program could have on the organization. Estep’s efforts to get shared governance up and running at Anaheim Regional have helped to elevate nursing leadership, performance and influence throughout the facility. In recognition of her esteemed leadership and forward-looking vision, Estep is one of just seven recipients nationwide being honored with a prestigious 2011 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award.
Nursing shared governance allows staff nurses the opportunity to engage in decision-making that affects their ability to provide patient care and permits them a partnership with managers operating in administrative areas of a healthcare institution. However, implementation of this model is often slow and difficult. Realizing the benefits of shared governance, Estep pursued additional responsibilities on top of her duties as a staff nurse to develop a Professional Practice Council to help facilitate the program.
“In her very first year as a nurse, Jessica saw an opportunity to elevate the role of staff nurses at her hospital and took a lead position in motivating others to join her in helping to bring meaningful change,” explains Wendell Mobley, who directs Cherokee Uniforms’ charitable and scholarship programs. “The first years spent in the nursing profession can be incredibly challenging in multiple ways. To our judges, Jessica’s determination to put control over nursing care into the hands of practicing professionals is incredibly impressive, and she deserves to be nationally recognized.”
After learning that shared governance would be launched at Anaheim Regional Medical Center in 2010, Estep volunteered to help and joined the Professional Practice Council, which recommends and develops clinical nursing practice standards, policies and procedures. She recruited nurses to join the council and was elected chairman. Under Estep’s leadership, the council championed on-site bachelor’s degree and nursing certification programs and addressed policies affecting units across the hospital.
“Jessica works in one of the busiest units of our hospital, yet she is willing to spend much of her free time working on the shared governance program of our hospital,” says Alecia Passow, the intensive care unit and cardiac observation unit director, and Estep’s nominator. “Although shared governance is very conceptual, Jessica’s vision for the program has infiltrated throughout this community hospital. By engaging and motivating those around her, she has opened new doors for nurses and has advanced nursing to higher levels at our facility.”
The Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award is granted by Cherokee Uniforms as a way of recognizing the caring and highly competent work of nurses and other non-physician healthcare professionals who provide exceptional service, sacrifice and innovation while positively impacting others’ lives. This is the ninth year the nation’s leading designer and manufacturer of healthcare apparel has honored inspirational caregivers across the country.
As a National Winner, Estep receives an all-expense-paid trip to a 2012 medical conference of her choice courtesy of Cherokee Uniforms; a wardrobe featuring the best of Cherokee Uniforms and Footwear worth more than $1,000; a Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award trophy; a 14K gold-plated commemorative pin; a year’s subscription to Scrubs, the nation’s first lifestyle magazine for nurses; and a $500 donation in her name to the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Foundation.
Ultimately, overcoming the challenges that the nursing profession faces on behalf of her patients and fellow nurses is what motivates Estep to give her best work each day. “Healthcare and medicine are always progressive, so nursing practice is bound to change as well. Among the many shifting nursing roles, we must always protect our responsibilities as patient advocates and coordinators of care,” explains Estep. “The nurses are Anaheim Regional’s most valuable asset and seeing firsthand their commitment to providing excellent patient outcomes encourages me to follow in their footsteps.”