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 clear picture of the people who make up 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.
September is World Alzheimer’s Month, which is a month-long effort to recognize, educate, and spread awareness about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. To honor the people who so selflessly care for those affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s, PerfectServe is highlighting a Nurse of Note who works with geriatric patients and those with memory disorders. Visit the Alzheimer’s Society website to learn more about World Alzheimer’s Month and the efforts behind their research and educational goals.
Honoree 8: The Lead Advanced Practice Provider at Summa Health System (Akron, OH) — Amanda Harvan
As the Lead Advanced Practice Provider at Summa Health System in Akron, OH, Amanda Harvan, APRN-CNP GS-C, stays busy. She maintains a high-traffic clinical practice in the Senior Services Department, a position she knew she wanted even before finishing nursing school. In fact, Amanda knew she wanted to work for Summa Health System as soon as she graduated, but a position was not available at the time. After gaining care experience elsewhere, she joined Summa in 2009 in the Geriatrics department. She is now a nurse practitioner who holds both a clinical and administrative role in the Senior Services Department.
The Lead Advanced Practice Provider has clinical responsibilities for seeing patients, but she also disseminates information to advanced practice providers, participates in orientation and onboarding, offers mentorship, and gives annual evaluations. The position didn’t exist before Amanda joined Summa; she helped create the “Lead” role and served as the first Lead Advanced Practice Provider in Summa’s Geriatrics group. She took on this role to be a source of information for others—a person they can turn to for questions about their role, scope of practice, collaboration concerns, and more. Since creating and serving in this position, the support and advocacy she gives to her fellow advanced practice providers has significantly improved morale in her department and even reduced turnover and burnout rates.
Serving the geriatric population was always a dream of Amanda’s—working with older adults is the reason she comes to work every day. The Senior Services Department offers various services to patients and their families in a five-county area, including inpatient and outpatient consults and assessments, skilled and long-term care, and home-based primary care to approximately 500 home-bound patients. One of Amanda’s favorite parts of her role is doing outpatient evaluations for patients concerned about memory loss. Much like the characters on her favorite TV show, “CSI,” Amanda spends her time talking to patients and families to look for “clues” to identify the reason they are having problems like falling or delirium. These detective skills help her treat her patients and give advice to their families.
Though there are a lot of different moving parts to the repertoire of services offered at Summa Health System, Amanda says the overall goal is to help older adults age successfully as they and their families navigate the healthcare system. This is why World Alzheimer’s Month is important to Amanda, as she says she truly lives to help older adults and their families. If you’re looking for someone who lives to serve, Amanda is that nurse. She often jokes that if she won the lottery tomorrow, she’d still come to work—serving others really is her passion.
In addition to her clinical role, Amanda serves on the Allied Health Credentialing Committee, which ensures Advanced Practice Practitioners have the necessary qualifications to practice within the hospital setting. She also sits on the Hospital Ethics Committee, the Delirium Prevention and Falls Prevention Committees, and lends her time and expertise to APRN students through their clinical practicums while in training. She also teaches monthly courses, called “Concepts in Geriatric Care,” to all new-hire RNs in the health system. Amanda is in charge of adjusting the content, literature, and guidelines to ensure her nursing colleagues are providing the “Gold Standard” of geriatric care to patients.
As Lead Advanced Practice Provider, Amanda is a nurse, administrator, teacher, and investigator. She said one of the best parts of her job is providing education and guidance to families navigating their Alzheimer’s and dementia journeys, as well as teaching families how to communicate with someone with cognitive impairments. In the future, she looks forward to using her recently acquired Gerontologic Specialist Advanced Practice Registered Nurse certification. Amanda is a compassionate and skilled provider whose patients adore her. Her nominator shared that Amanda is “unbelievably humble and the most silent-but-loud presence in a room. She is very deserving of this recognition.” We couldn’t agree more!
Amanda, your dedication to caring for older patients and their families is inspiring. Your devotion to serving on committees, teaching others, and being a source of leadership for your coworkers is encouraging and demonstrates your passion for helping others. We are honored to highlight what you do at Summa Health System and are so thankful for everything you do. Congratulations, and thanks for being an incredible Nurse of Note!
In addition to learning about Amanda’s work with elderly patients, we posed a few additional questions to get to know her a bit better.
Why did you choose to become a nurse?
I became a nurse specifically so that I could work with older adults. I started volunteering in an adult day program at 17 and realized that “these are my people!” I knew I wanted a career where I could work with older adults on a daily basis. I looked into social work, elder law, and gerontology research before I eventually determined the nursing path was the way to go to have the biggest impact on individual older adults and their families.
What is the biggest lesson you learned while serving as a nurse throughout the pandemic?
There are inadvertent harms everywhere. A lot of our measures put in place to protect patients from the pandemic had significant downstream negative effects on the older population (and people in general). Some of these things included isolation and decreased cognitive stimulation. Sometimes there’s just no good or “right” answer out there. I also learned just how selfless nurses and healthcare workers really are. In the face of an unknown illness with insufficient PPE, I saw people working, despite their fear, to take care of patients and each other.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self about serving in the healthcare field?
I would say you need to understand that mistakes are going to happen. What’s important is to take your mistakes and failures and learn from them to create future successes.
What do you do to relax after a stressful day?
I really like to exercise to burn off stress. Sometimes I exercise by playing with my kids and spending quality time with them!
What changes would you like to see in the nursing field in the future?
There definitely needs to be better staffing, higher pay, and higher levels of respect for nurses and nurses’ aides/assistants!
If you had to pick one song that describes you as a nurse, what would it be?
“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” by Chicago. I spend time daily asking confused people if they know the date, where they are, and more. And really, does anybody really care?
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.