nyone who’s ever been sick knows that medicine is just one facet of the healing equation.
The kindness and compassion of healthcare providers can also make a difference. And for most people, that kind of transformative care often comes from nurses, who tirelessly lend love and support to their patients.
“Nurses are an incredibly dedicated group of professionals who are truly changing the trajectory of health for patients around the world,” says, Senior Director of Corporate Equity at Johnson & Johnson.
And Higham speaks from experience.
For nearly 15 years, she's been in charge of overseeing The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future, an initiative that works collaboratively with nursing organizations, schools, hospitals and other healthcare groups to share information and resources—and help provide advancement opportunities for students and nurses alike.
“Nurses are drawn to the profession because they want to make a difference in the world," she says, "and they know that if they want to provide the highest level of care, it not only takes a lot of work, but also continuing education and professional development.”
That’s why the various programs that are supported by The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future are so essential: They offer some of the brightest, most promising nurses and nursing students an opportunity to further their studies, launch groundbreaking research, and even build their leadership skills.
As the campaign celebrates its 15-year anniversary, we asked four men and women who've benefited from some of the Johnson & Johnson-supported programs to share how the opportunities have helped them take their passion for nursing to the next level.
The Nurse: Kelly Walker, RN, MSN, DNP
The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future Supported Program: AWHONN Emerging Leaders
“When I became a nurse, I always knew I wanted to take care of mothers and newborns. I love witnessing such a special life event, which has always been inspiring to me.
About six years into my labor and delivery nursing career, I started a family of my own and unfortunately had a very difficult birth with my first baby. When my labor wasn’t progressing, the doctors had to use a vacuum to help my daughter come out.
She ended up with bruising and swelling in her head and had to be transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for a few days. Thankfully, everything turned out fine and she is now a healthy 12-year-old girl.
But those first few hours when I was separated from her were awful—and I don’t know what I would have done without the nurses who were taking care of me.
As a medical professional, you think you know it all, but you really don't—not until it happens to you. It's all about the patients. They inspire me.Share
They did all of the things I was trained to do: coached me on breastfeeding, answered my questions, and held my hand when I worried about my baby girl.
Experiencing the receiving end of this kind of care became a driving force for me, so with the help of my nursing director and mentor, I got involved with the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), a group that promotes the health of women and newborns.
I was honored to be chosen as a member of the first AWHONN Emerging Leaders Program, a year-long training course that encouraged me to be fearless in my abilities to lead and make a difference for patients and the nursing community—whether it's advocating for patients, doing research or educating up-and-coming nurses. AWHONN helps you see that what you do can make a real difference.
When my baby was in the NICU, I learned so much. As a medical professional, you think you know it all, but you really don't—not until it happens to you. It's all about the patients. They inspire me.”
The Nurse: Jimmy Reyes, DNP, AGNP, RN
The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future Supported Program: AACN Minority Nurse Faculty Scholarship
“Some of my earliest memories as a child growing up in Chile are of my grandmother, Violeta, who was a home health nurse. She’d often take my brother, sister and me to work with her—and the interactions she had with her patients will forever be etched in my mind.
She cared for each of her patients as if they were family, and it’s because of her that I wanted to become a nurse.
When I was 16, my parents emigrated to the United States, and after I graduated from high school, I enrolled at the University of Iowa because it had the best nursing program in gerontology—a passion I had after seeing my grandmother care mostly for the elders in her community.
I started working at a local hospital after nursing school, and during one particularly busy shift, I got a call from a nurse practitioner who urged me to apply for the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future-AACN Minority Nurse Faculty Scholarship, which was created to alleviate the growing shortage of nurse educators and promote diversity.
The scholarship provides financial and professional support to full-time minority students enrolled in graduate nursing programs who plan to work as nursing faculty upon graduation.
What I’ve learned is that being a nurse often means you’re a change agent—whether it’s in your own little village, or you’re working to pass legislation at the state level.Share
This opportunity was like a springboard for my career. Thanks to the scholarship, I completed my graduate education at the University of Iowa College of Nursing, and I am now a nurse educator and dean of nursing at an Iowa community college. I’ve also since developed my own program of research related to the management and prevention of Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 among older Latinos in rural areas.
What I’ve learned is that being a nurse often means you’re a change agent—whether it’s in your own little village, like my grandmother, or you’re working to pass legislation at the state level.
In fact, during my graduate studies, I opened a migrant worker clinic with a group of other nursing, pharmacist and social worker students. We went to class in the morning, worked in the clinic all day, and then drove 30 minutes outside the city with boxes of medication and stethoscopes to care for workers until midnight.
When I think back, I don’t know how we did it. And then I remember the sacrifices my grandmother always made for the people she cared for and how deeply she loved being a nurse. And it reminds me how much I love what I do, too.”
The Nurse: Chelsea Monteverde, nursing student at Rutgers School of Nursing
The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future Supported Program: TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pilot. That changed during high school, when I got really sick.
I’d been anemic for years and always felt really tired. My parents took me to countless doctors, but none of them could figure out what was wrong with me. Then, at the beginning of my senior year of high school, I started getting high fevers every night, and my parents took me to the hospital.
A nurse examined me and as she was feeling my neck for swollen lymph nodes, she found a lump. When the results from a series of X-rays came back, I was told I had multiple tumors throughout my body. After more testing, doctors diagnosed me with Stage IV Hodgkin lymphoma. I would need to start chemotherapy immediately.
I’d likely had cancer since middle school, but nobody had caught it—until that nurse examined my neck. She was my superhero.
Because of her and so many other nurses who cared for me during my cancer treatment, I decided to pursue a future in nursing. In fact, those nurses also helped me with my application to the Rutgers School of Nursing, where I’m now in my second year and focusing on disaster nursing.
It’s a sector that isn’t touched upon a lot in classes and clinical training, so I was really excited when my professors told me about the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program. It's an exchange program between the U.S. and Japan, and the Campaign for Nursing’s Future provides funding for two U.S. nursing students from Rutgers University to join the program.
We will all soon have the opportunity to help people—particularly if and when disaster strikes—and prove to everyone that superheroes do exist.Share
Happily, I was accepted, and participated in the program last year. While the entire experience was eye-opening and incredible—we participated in an emergency room trauma simulation, and visited the National Institutes of Health and Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C.—one night will always stand out to me.
I was with the Japanese nursing students, who had all survived the Fukushima earthquake and power plant explosion. We started talking about the survivor’s guilt they still felt years later. “How can I complain that I lost my house and car when my best friend lost her father?” one asked with tears in her eyes.
I could relate. I told them that after going through cancer, I often wondered why my chemotherapy treatment worked, whereas so many other kids aren’t as lucky. We all ended up crying in a hotel room—an experience that bonded us forever.
When I finished the program, I was even more motivated. In fact, I started an international nursing association here at Rutgers, and two of the Japanese students started one at their school.
We will all soon have the opportunity to help people—particularly if and when disaster strikes—and prove to everyone that superheroes really do exist.”
The Nurse: KaraLynn LaValley, MN, RN
The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future Supported Program: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars
“When you’re a nurse, it’s easy to feel overworked and underappreciated. This is how I felt right after my residency, in my first year of work.
I’ll never forget one day, in particular, when I was really second-guessing my decision to become a nurse. Then I met a patient who’d just had a stroke. She didn’t want any life-saving interventions; all she asked was that we find someone to read her last rites.
I found a pastor at a local church who offered to come to the hospital. After the pastor left, I stayed with her for the rest of the day, holding her hand. When she said she was scared, I told her not to be scared—that I wouldn’t leave her.
I held her hand until she passed away, and when she did, I didn’t feel overworked and underappreciated. I felt I had made a difference for someone.
It's this kind of social-emotional connection to my patients that inspired me to get my master’s degree, and then my doctorate in nursing.
I teach my students to treat each one of their patients as if they were 'yo mama,' and trust that, like me, they’ll take this advice and pay it forward.Share
In 2015, when I was in my master’s program, a few professors urged me to apply for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars program supported by Johnson & Johnson, which provides scholarships, mentoring and leadership development activities, as well as postdoctoral research support, to future nurse leaders.
At first, I was hesitant. I didn’t think I wanted to get a Ph.D. But my professors told me that to do the work I wanted to do—on how early trauma can effect emotional development—getting a Ph.D. was essential.
I was honored to be selected, and I’m currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Washington. I truly believe that if I hadn’t received this scholarship, I wouldn’t be pursuing this research that is so meaningful to me.
Thanks to this program, I’m connected with so many amazing people—community partners, fellow scholars and a cohort of colleagues around the country who want to inspire change. It helps me remember that I’m never alone in this process of becoming the best nurse I can be.
I also teach nursing at a local community college, and I can’t think of a better way to give back to my community than to help train future nurses. I often remember one of my nursing instructors, who told his students to “treat every patient as if they were ‘yo mama.’ ”
I did this with that stroke patient, and in that moment, I realized the power in my instructor’s words. Now I teach my students to treat each one of their patients as if they were “yo mama,” and trust that, like me, they’ll take this advice and pay it forward.”