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.
December is home to several awareness and recognition holidays that underscore the importance of vaccinations. These holidays serve two purposes. First, they’re a reminder for those who can receive vaccinations to get them scheduled. Second, they help us to recognize the healthcare providers who work tirelessly to administer and educate others about vaccines. With the COVID-19 pandemic still fresh in our minds, we’re using this month’s Nurses of Note profile to highlight the story of a nurse who works directly with vaccination teams and played a foundational role in getting COVID-19 vaccines out to her community.
Honoree 9: The Manager of Ambulatory Nursing at Prisma Health — Kerri Williams
Kerri Williams has been a Nurse Manager at Prisma Health for over five years, but in the first half of 2020, the scope of her role pivoted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In her current role as Manager of Ambulatory Nursing, Kerri guides multiple ambulatory, family medicine, and internal medicine sites, supporting clinical concerns, influencing policy direction, and facilitating provider education. In addition, she works closely with practice managers and clinical leaders to ensure staff at each practice have the resources and knowledge they need to achieve successful clinical outcomes. When the pandemic hit, the job called for additional responsibilities, and Kerri picked up the new title of “Vaccine Chair.” In this capacity, she applied her educational and support skills to ensure safety and proper communication for vaccine administration.
With early dreams of providing healthcare as a veterinarian, Kerri soon realized she wanted to fulfill that dream caring for people—and especially children. She started her career in a pediatric practice while in nursing school, working her way up in multiple roles like clinical coordinator and practice manager. With over 23 years of nursing under her belt, she now focuses on educating and serving other leaders, creating communications and providing needed support for multiple care locations. Due to some organizational restructuring, Kerri now supports all the primary care sites in the Upstate area. She is also the Vaccine Chair facilitator for the entire system, creating monthly PowerPoint presentations to relay system and department updates and communications across multiple sites of care. Needless to say, Kerri provides a lot of support for her Prisma Health colleagues!
When COVID-19 began to spread, Kerri jumped into action head first. Prisma Health launched multiple COVID-19 vaccination clinics, and she first assisted at a Kmart vaccine station. Her expertise helped to ensure that the site was always staffed and patient flow was controlled. After supporting this location and others, Kerri was essential in working through best practices for getting vaccines to pediatric patients. She worked with a core group of leaders to ensure pediatric patients at Prisma Health (and elsewhere in the community) had access to the new vaccines.
Getting vaccinations out to patients and the public meant Kerri worked extended hours—often into the weekends—and spent a lot of time preparing for urgent meetings as more vaccines received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval. These approvals had to be followed in a timely and specific manner, so Kerri worked with clinical and administrative leadership, Epic team members, and others to ensure their decision trees and documentation process could all coincide with go-live administration days. Kerri said technological tools helped schedule volunteers, make vaccine appointments, and advertise vaccine locations to the community.
On Saturdays, Kerri worked from 7 AM to 5 PM administering vaccines and supporting her teammates. Many volunteered during these events, and Kerri often had to remind those around her to take breaks—further exemplifying their dedication and desire to help others in the community. The efforts made by nurses like Kerri and her team were not lost on the community, as many gave back during these difficult times by funding and delivering meals to the vaccine clinics during weekend shifts. Kerri said these clinics were truly operated with an “all hands on deck” approach.
Kerri’s decision-making and leadership skills don’t just stop at vaccine clinics. Her experience as a clinical coordinator and practice manager at multiple pediatric practices has helped her understand what she calls the “big picture.” Kerri supports multiple care sites and applies what she learns at one location to protocols implemented at another. Her initiatives have led to improved policies in vaccine administration and triage, decreased clinical and documentation errors, better emergency preparedness for ambulatory sites, and updated information for upcoming ambulatory competency circuits. Kerri’s overall guidance for workflows and best practices truly make a difference for providers and patients at Prisma Health.
While we’re all grateful the pandemic has waned, it can be easy to forget just how much of a difference nurses like Kerri made during its most challenging moments. She and others volunteered countless hours of their time and provided care for many of the world’s communities, often without proper equipment or increased pay. Without their leadership, sacrifice, and policy-making expertise, COVID-19 could still be front and center in our daily lives. Kerri’s resilience and devotion to serving her patients, her teammates, and her community are apt reminders of the amazing work nurses do every day.
Thank you, Kerri, for your tireless efforts before and since the start of the pandemic. We’re inspired by all you do to support care team members as they take care of patients, and we’re honored to call you a Nurse of Note!
In addition to learning about Kerri’s role as a nurse manager, we posed a few additional questions to get to know her better.
Why did you choose to become a nurse?
I felt the calling to serve at a young age. During college, I realized I had a fascination with learning about the human body and how it worked. Becoming a nurse was the perfect way to combine what I was studying and learning with the element of serving others.
What is the biggest lesson you learned while serving as a nurse throughout the pandemic?
I am very much a “fixer” and want to help find solutions to problems. Being able to serve others during the pandemic gave me a way to “fix” the chaos around me. It was a very small role that I was part of, but at the same time, it gave me a sense of being able to contribute to the big picture and outcome. I liked knowing that the more COVID-19 vaccine clinics we had, the sooner our world would heal. This was the lesson I learned: Do whatever you can—even if it seems small to you—to contribute to a positive outcome.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self about serving in the healthcare field?
The advice I could give myself would be not to be afraid to try and to fail. God is able to turn everything around for good. Events that seemed like “failures” at the time have been the things I have learned from the most and made me the strongest.
What do you do to relax after a stressful day?
I am a runner. I love to run as soon as I get off work. When I can work that out in my day, I can almost feel the stress fall behind as I run. I am able to process the day and, at the same time, find myself rejuvenated when my run is over.
What changes would you like to see in the nursing field in the future?
I would like to see more nurse leaders work alongside the administrative leaders in our system.
If you had to pick one song that describes you as a nurse, what would it be?
As a nurse manager, “Lean On Me” comes to mind. My “why” has shifted now to assist the nurse leaders and to be their support and encouragement. I hope the nurses who look to me as their nurse leader feel they can “Lean On Me” to give them the direction, encouragement, and counsel they need to impact their patients and coworkers’ lives.
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.