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PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program focuses on the many nurses who deserve recognition for the dedication, sacrifice, and resilience they bring to work every day. For the inaugural Nurses of Note Awards, we have the privilege of highlighting a new level of commitment, strength, and integrity in nurses from around the country who have battled on the front lines of the still-raging coronavirus pandemic.
The actions of this diverse group of nurses highlight the extraordinary among us. Their stories give us a glimpse into the unique ways our nurses have fought this pandemic and made a difference in the lives of their patients and the communities they serve. Out of hundreds of nominations, we selected three nurses and one team of providers to spotlight as recipients of this award.
Honoree 1: Yoji Patil, MSN, RN, CNOR of Stamford Health (Stamford, CT)
Yojana Patil—who goes by Yoji—believes that nursing chose her. She accidentally stepped into her career when she took an entrance exam to support a friend who wanted to pursue nursing. Twenty-plus years later, Yoji found herself battling on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, she helped to launch the ICU Family Liaison Program at Stamford Health to keep ICU and palliative teams in communication with patients and their families while visitation restrictions were in place.
Yoji was nominated by her Stamford Health coworker Michelle Watson, who serves as Nurse Manager for the ICU and IMCU. Michelle wrote that Yoji’s ICU Family Liaison Program initiation felt seamless, and that Yoji deserves full credit for what the program was able to accomplish.
The ICU Family Liaison Program has kept patients and their families connected in a time when communication is more important than ever. Yoji wrote the training and communication guide for the program, which covers four intensive care units for eight hours a day, seven days a week. She individually called and updated families of patients, organized patient care across multiple specialties, and facilitated conference calls—all on top of her regular nursing schedule.
Her nominator Michelle summed up Yoji’s efforts by saying, “I am proud to work with Yoji and to be a witness to such an important initiative that provides much-needed information and comfort to families.”
Yoji’s service to her patients did not stop when she was tired. Throughout the pandemic, she worked weekends and holidays to provide continuous care. On Mother’s Day, she organized a video call with all of her female patients’ children, allowing them to see their mothers even though they couldn’t be together in person.
Throughout the pandemic, Yoji has been a caretaker and advocate for those who lost their lives to COVID-19. She has held the hands of dying patients whose families couldn’t be there to comfort them. On multiple occasions, Yoji obtained permission to allow family members to visit and say goodbye to loved ones when a patient’s outcome looked grim. Yoji was and remains a steady support system to families facing the bereavement process.
Yojana Patil’s service to her patients, her colleagues, and her community is an emphatic demonstration of character, empathy, and commitment to nursing.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
Sometimes you choose a profession, but in my case, the profession chose me. I accompanied my friend to the entrance exam for a reputed nursing school in Mumbai. The principal was walking by and asked me, “Instead of waiting outside, why don’t you sit in for the exam?” I did end up taking the test, and now I can’t imagine choosing any other profession.
What’s one piece of advice for nursing students entering the field?
Nursing is a work of heART. Nursing is a way of living for the rest of your life. It’s not just a job—once a nurse, always a nurse.
What would you like to see change for nursing in the future?
I would love to see nursing at the forefront of healthcare. I want to see nurses advocating for patients, especially the population that has no voice.
How do you combat burnout in your professional life?
I have tremendous support from my family, friends, and coworkers. I use mindfulness in my daily activities, especially on hectic days. Emotional burnout is a real thing. Nurses around the world are feeling helpless and emotionally drained as an effect of this pandemic. Most of us have PTSD from our experiences and the difficult outcomes we’ve witnessed.
Taking care of your physical and mental health is just as important as taking care of your patients. A quick five-minute deep breathing session before walking into unknowns, such as receiving a new patient or beginning a shift, goes a long way.
What’s your passion outside of nursing?
I love Zumba. I also went skydiving on my 40th birthday! I have traveled to four continents so far and would love to explore Africa next. To sum it up, I enjoy dancing, traveling, and adventure sports. I’m not the best at sports, but that doesn’t stop me from trying!
If you had to pick one song that describes you as a nurse, what would it be?
If I had to pick a song, it would be “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson. But this excerpt from a poem—which I wrote with my coworker and fellow nurse, Seema Pillai—really describes me as a nurse:
Today I feel like a soldier, waging a war,
With limited weapons, I return home each day with many a scar.
But I will fight valiantly and will not despair,
‘Cos I go to work each day with weapons invisible—faith, hope, trust, and a prayer.
Nursing is my calling
And when duty calls, I will not fail,
I know there’s light at the end of the tunnel, I know I’ll live to tell this tale.
Thank you, Yoji!
Your hard work and dedication to exceptional patient care is recognized and appreciated by your colleagues and the team at PerfectServe. We wish you all the best in your continued efforts to make life better for the individuals and families who trust you with their care.