Nurses of Note Awards 2022: The Mother-Daughter Duo at Mount Sinai Health System
PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program honors nurses who deserve recognition for their remarkable resilience and unwavering dedication to their patients. In the second year of the Nurses of Note program, PerfectServe wants to shine a light on the integrity, perseverance, and compassion that nurses so regularly display in the course of caring for patients.
The incredible stories of these honorees paint a pretty clear picture of the people who populate this noble profession, and their experiences offer just a glimpse into the many ways they make the world a better place. Of the 200-plus nominations PerfectServe received, we selected a group of providers to spotlight during the month of May—which, of course, is home to National Nurses Week—and throughout the rest of 2022.
Honoree 2: Dina Bressler, RN, and Toby Bressler, Senior Director of Nursing for Oncology at Mount Sinai Health System (New York, NY)
At just seven years old, Dina Bressler knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her mother, Toby Bressler, turned a passion for the field of nursing into an exemplary career, outlining what it means to work in a profession that makes a real difference in the lives of others. It was settled: Dina would be a nurse, just like her mother.
Toby Bressler said she followed an unusual career trajectory for an Orthodox Jewish woman. She enrolled as a nursing student at a community college in 2004 while heavily pregnant with her seventh child. Toby was driven by her lifelong dream of “tikun olam,” a Hebrew saying that means “healing the world.” She wanted to improve health equity in her own community and beyond. In turn, her dream encouraged her daughter to follow the same pathway. Today, both Dina and Toby serve as nurses at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.
As with many intergenerational nurses, Dina was driven by the actions and passions of her mother. Dina watched Toby care for patients as if they were her own family, saying this taught her much about the empathy and compassion she has for her patients today. As a result, Dina chose to join the Skin Savers team at Mount Sinai Health System, where she received a certification from the WOCN Society as a registered Wound Treatment Associate (WTA). She enjoys alleviating the suffering of her patients who have clinically avoidable skin conditions. She also takes great pride in serving a largely geriatric population and feels passionate about being a voice for those who often cannot represent themselves. Dina credits her mother for instilling these values and skills in her.
For other lessons, Dina had to wait for real-world experience. She graduated nursing school in June of 2020 and learned a lot while serving at the height of the pandemic. She learned a great deal about strength and resiliency and said the pandemic taught her the importance of being a light for others in a time of bleakness. She also learned to see the good in tragic situations, saying that COVID-19 did bring people together in unimaginable ways.
Though the mother and daughter pair do not actively work together at Mount Sinai Health System, they have had many opportunities to team up for research and other projects. Dina and Toby see themselves as a dynamic duo at work and at home, and each says they learn from the other’s perspectives and experiences. Dina shared one of her favorite Shakespeare quotes that summarizes why she and her mother serve as nurses every day: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
Dina and Toby, thank you for sharing your stories and for inspiring one another to be the best nurses you can be. It’s heartwarming to see how the actions of a mother were so inspiring that becoming a nurse was a foregone conclusion for her daughter. Thank you both for finding your gift and—most importantly—sharing it with others. You are both greatly appreciated by your coworkers, patients, family, friends, and the team here at PerfectServe.
In addition to learning about their passion for nursing, we posed a few additional questions to this mother-daughter team:
Why did you choose to become a nurse?
Dina Bressler: I graduated from nursing school in June of 2020, and I always knew I wanted to be a nurse! Growing up and watching my mother become the nurse she is today has always been an inspiration for me.
What is the biggest lesson you learned while serving throughout the pandemic?
Toby Bressler: We (the healthcare community) are all in the same boat and hopefully rowing in the same direction! The pandemic was an opportunity for nurses to lead, innovate, and advance changes in healthcare delivery. The artificial boundaries to nursing practice are more permeable than we thought. Nurses are “boundary spanners!”
What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self about working in the healthcare industry?
Dina Bressler: The hardest part about being a nurse isn’t the schooling or training; it’s the actual role of being a nurse. The hours are long and the days are sometimes taxing and stressful. But, despite all that, the positive impact that a nurse has on their patients and those around them makes it all worth it.
What do you do to relax after a stressful day?
Toby Bressler: I enjoy spending time with my children and grandchildren! I also enjoy swimming and delving into a good book. It’s important to have a support system and fulfillment outside of work.
What changes would you like to see in the nursing field of the future?
Dina Bressler: In the future, I would love to see nurses have a larger role in executive decisions in healthcare. While the healthcare system and nursing field are constantly evolving, there is still a lot of positive change that can happen. I believe that nurses can and should be a part of that.
Toby Bressler: In the near future, I would like to see the development of a nursing agenda that will advance and close the gaps in health equity and social justice. In particular, I would like to see full practice authority for Advanced Practice Nurses in every state across the United States. We aren’t doing ourselves or our patients any favors with restrictive practice barriers.
Make sure to follow our blog as we publish in-depth profiles about more of our deserving Nurses of Note honorees throughout the year.
For more about Nurses of Note 2022, check out the full list of winners.