We read this interview in the Stanford University Nursing News Quarterly  and wanted to share it in the hopes that it inspires you and those you know to embrace the profession of nursing.
~Michael and Frida Donner
nancy lee
Q. What called to you about the nursing profession/what was it that had you choose this career?
A. I wasn’t ‘called to nursing’ like some people. I was a music major and got a bachelor’s degree in music and I wasn’t very good. I loved it but I couldn’t support myself. My mom was a nurse and it worked well for her with having a family and she loved it and I thought “I’ll try that.” I know that’s not a typical CNO story. I think I have the best job in the universe. I like to be able to talk to my patients; I like to be able to take care of my patients. Not just to be episodic, and as nurses-we get to do that. Now I get to help almost 2,000 people make a difference in patients’ and families’ lives. That’s what I get to do. It’s my job to help my nurses take care of patients. And to help them be the best nurse they possibly can.
Q. Could you describe a typical day as CNO ?
A. I don’t really have “typical” days. Every single day I “get out”- we call it GEMBA which is Japanese term that comes from LEAN that means going to where the work occurs. Work doesn’t occur here, this is where we talk. The work is where the healthcare provider interfaces with the patient and family so that’s where we as nursing leaders need to be.
Q. What is your favorite thing about your job?
A. Helping staff  solve a problem and helping managers get to a solution. When I go out on the nursing  floor usually my focus is the nurses themselves because your focus is the patients, my focus is you. But I’m still a nurse so I love sitting and talking to the patients.
Q. What would you be doing if you weren’t in your current position?
A. I’m a pediatric nurse by background; I’m not an adult care nurse. When I made the switch from pediatrics to adults I actually worked on a surgical  floor, this was before nursing ratios. It was a nurse aid and myself and we had 10 post- surgical patients. The pieces that make me a nurse are a little different. If I was to retire and work part  me as a frontline nurse I would work as a clinical coordinator in pediatrics some place.
Q. Is there a nurse in your career that you admire ?
A. There has been one nurse who has been a role model for me. He was the regional VP for nursing in the VA system for the western region. He was one of my faculty when I was in graduate school. He exemplifies that perfect mix of having a “foot in both camps.” He could stay connected with what’s happening in the patient universe while making sure nurses had a voice at the board table that was respected and well understood. And that is how I try to do what I do. That is really important to me, to  figure out that balance because if all of you don’t know who I am then that’s a problem but if board of directors doesn’t know who I am, that’s a big problem too. That balance is so important and Ron really exemplified that.
Q. What kind of car do you drive?
A. I have a Chevrolet Volt, its electric with gas assist- so I have to plug my little car in. I get about 48 miles on electric before it switches over to gas. So overall I get about 88 miles per gallon (not bad!). But I also get the perk of driving in the carpool lane. I would call myself an eco-sound person. At my house we are obsessed with recycling and reducing waste.
Before my Volt I had a Prius. The Prius was the  first non-sports car I’ve had. I’ve had cars like a Datsun 280Z my whole life. My  first car was a 1600 Datsun double overhead cam with twin carburetors-that was before fuel injection- I’ve always loved sports cars! My dad wanted boys and ended up with 4 girls. So he taught us girls about cars. He believed we shouldn’t learn how to drive a car until we could change a tire and the oil in our cars. Both of which I haven’t done in decades- it’s hard on your  fingernails!
When I was young my dad, his friend, and I used to enter competitions where you had to change out an engine. You would race to see how fast you could take an engine out of a VW bug and put a new engine in. Our  time was about 2 hours and 45 minutes, but we never won.