Considered the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale established the first nonspiritual nursing school in London in 1860. She is affectionately revered as the “Lady with the Lamp,” commemorating her rounds visiting wounded soldiers during the Crimean War.
The “Lady with the Lamp” lights the way
Now, over two centuries later, new nurses worldwide recite the Nightingale Pledge in her memory as part of their pinning ceremonies. They promise to adhere to a code of ethics, cooperate with coworkers, carry out the instructions of their supervisors, protect confidential patient information, and raise the standards of practical nursing.
Nightingale Awards honor Connecticut’s committed caretakers
The Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing were established in 2001 by the Visiting Nurse Association of South Central Connecticut. Since then, the ceremony has garnered support from the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Yale New Haven Hospital, and the Hospital of Saint Raphael. Only healthcare organizations can nominate recipients for the award, and the accolade is open to Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) who demonstrate distinction in the field.
Nightingale Award recipients serve healthcare settings such as hospitals, home healthcare environments, health centers, schools, long-term care facilities, and medical practices. Honorees have proven their ability to go “beyond the call,” made a significant impact on the nursing profession, and created a lifelong legacy.
This year’s Nightingale Award ceremony was held virtually on May 6. Among the 2021 recipients were Goodwin University’s Leslie Harris, Assistant Professor of RN-to-BSN, and 2016 Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) graduate and current Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student, Mark Bean.
Leslie Harris: a nursing instructor who inspires
At the end of a faculty meeting, Harris found out she would be the recipient of the Nightingale Award at the recommendations of her colleagues. BSN and MSN program director Christina Nieves shared the news.
“I was surprised, honored, and humbled to be recognized for something that just seemed innate — to promote care and collegiality with those I work with and care about,” Harris acknowledged.
She immediately phoned her daughter in Chicago. “I knew she would understand the significance of the recognition,” Harris revealed.
With clinical practice in long-term care, leadership roles with CT Nurses Foundation, and a faculty member of Goodwin’s online BSN program, Harris shared, “I love the nursing profession because there are unending opportunities available. I love being a part of making lives better.”
A livelihood that illuminates
“A nursing career is like fireworks,” Harris offered. “When you invest in your education, the sparks ignite, and the possibilities set off into the sky. The explosions of beauty represent the amazing experiences and surprises provided by being a part of this profession.”
Reflecting on past patients, Harris recalled an experience with a young man who had end-stage cancer. “I listened and held his hand. I don’t remember the exact words we shared, but after he died, his family left me a plant with a note thanking me for the sense of peace I provided him through our talks. To this day, that memory reminds me that every encounter matters.”
With every connection Harris has acquired along the way, she’s grateful for her time at the University. An influential instructor, “Goodwin has allowed me to celebrate myself, contribute to my professional growth by improving my practice, share my strengths, and feel supported,” she disclosed with gratitude.
“Leslie has truly impacted all of us who have started at Goodwin in the last few years,” Christina Nieves specified. “She is available, kind, and has been a wonderful resource for many of the new faculty, including myself. Leslie remains inspired and is always willing to work on a new initiative to support the program. She’s been a constant, quiet, steady resource in our department and the greater community.”
Overjoyed by occupational honor
ADN Goodwin graduate and current Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student Mark Bean also received the Nightingale Award during the virtual ceremony, with his wife and daughter watching beside him. When Bean discovered he would be awarded the honor as an employee of Community Health Services, Inc. he cried. “It was overwhelming,” he admitted. “I had never been so surprised in my life. Once I found out, I told my mother first. I knew it would make her the proudest.”
Racial profiling propels young man’s passion for the healthcare field
But Bean’s initial introduction into the healthcare industry had an unforgettable beginning. “I was around 15 years old, and I had to get a physical to play soccer,” Bean shared. “At my appointment, I happened to have a pager on me, and during my visit, the doctor asked, ‘Why do you need a pager?’ The doctor then proceeded to question me if I used drugs or was selling drugs. I was not experienced enough to see that he was stereotyping me, and he didn’t clear me to play. He claimed that something was in my urine, and he ordered a repeat test. I was exceptionally good at soccer, but I missed most of that season because of that experience. Nothing was ever found in my lab results, and I was eventually cleared to start.”
Bean adds, “The doctor’s racial profiling took away my extracurricular activity, and it negatively affected my life. During this time, I felt that healthcare needed more black men, and I began my interest in the field.”
Goodwin student finds success
Mark Bean has since earned his Associate Degree in Nursing at Goodwin, has become a licensed registered nurse, and is currently completing his BSN degree. “At Goodwin, it does not matter who you are or where you come from; everyone is treated the same,” Bean explained. “Students have numerous resources at their disposal — advisors, librarians, instructors, and other students are all there to pick you up if you fall. Goodwin grows with technology, and the institution is never behind on the newest smartboards or other online tech to help students thrive.”
In his position as a registered nurse, Mark is a lifelong learner and leader who strives for advancement every step of the way. Since starting his role as an RN, Bean has implemented new strategies in his department, immensely improving patient care — enhancements that earned him the Nightingale Award nomination.
“It’s challenging trying to make changes when places have been doing the same thing for so long,” Bean expressed. “But with perseverance, I have been successful. Nurses now educate patients on prolonged health issues and how to prevent long-term health problems. Patients are taught how to read blood pressure machines and glucometers. We investigate barriers to care in their home setting, and they are informed about symptoms and side-effects of their medication — and the change happened after my push for patient care.”
Go-getter grateful for Goodwin
“Attending Goodwin enhanced my life and my family’s life. I learned that if you stick to something you really want and you put in the necessary work, you will get to your goal,” Bean reflected.
“The nursing profession is one of those careers that have a profound impact on the community. I love that nurses can advocate for patients and push to improve healthcare policies. Every once in a while, it’s encouraging when patients call the office and say, ‘I just wanted to call and say thank you.’ It’s hard to articulate how much words like those touch my soul.
“The world needs nurses. Nursing is a prestigious profession, and you can save lives at the same time — there is no other career I would rather have.”
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Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.