Emily Harris knows the importance of education and experience when it comes
to taking care of her patients. As a nurse in the Critical Care Unit at
Iredell Memorial Hospital, she relies on her knowledge and training to
help seriously ill patients on the road to recovery. Now Harris is helping
other nurses to reach their educational goals as an ambassador for the
American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN).
Harris applied for the position and was selected earlier this year, becoming
one of 49 critical care nurse ambassadors statewide, and the only one
in Iredell County. As an ambassador, Harris serves as a resource for other
nurses in the area, keeping them up to date on the latest standards of care.
“I like being able to help people with their professional accountability,”
Harris said. “If I’m going to hold myself to that standard,
it’s nice to have an entire unit that does that too.”
The AACN looks at several factors when choosing ambassadors, including
their work experience and their location. Only nurses who have earned
their critical care certification can be considered for the volunteer
role. Nurses often study for months to prepare for the certification exam.
“If your patient has renal failure, how do we take care of that patient?
What are the correct ways to handle ethical issues?” Harris said,
describing the kinds of questions on the test. “It’s not just
how to be a nurse. It’s ‘how do I apply what I know to figure
out if a patient is getting sicker or getting better? How do I teach them
how to take care of themselves?’”
One of Harris’ chief responsibilities as an ambassador is to help
other nurses who want to earn their critical care certification. Nurses
can contact her with their questions about the application process. The
goal is to increase the number of nurses certified in critical care in
area hospitals, helping to better care for more patients in and around
“The more certifications you have, the more evidenced-based practice
you have in your unit, the better care you take of your patients,”
Many nurses including Harris have been able to reach their educational
goals, thanks to Iredell Health System’s Institute for Nursing Excellence
and Innovation. The Institute provides financial assistance to pay for
certifications, nursing degrees and continuing education.
“Without our nursing institute here at Iredell Memorial Hospital,
my certification would not have been possible,” Harris said. “That
nursing institute, that money that we raise every year goes straight back
into making the nurses better so they can take better care of the community.”
A donation to the Institute can be a great way to thank a nurse or nurses
who have made a positive impact on a patient or a family’s life.
These donations will go directly into the Nursing Excellence and Innovation
fund with a special note to the nurse(s) who inspired the gift.
Donations can be made to “Iredell Health System – Nursing Excellence
and Innovation” and sent to Elizabeth Brownell, Administrative Assistant
of the nursing department at the address below:
Elizabeth Brownell, Administrative Assistant
Iredell Health System
557 Brookdale Dr.
Statesville, NC 28677
A tax donation form will be returned with each donation.