To me, Kelly Carter is the epitome of a nurse leader, but I may be a little biased! In 2013, Kelly hired me as a new graduate nurse to work on the Cardiothoracic Surgery Progressive Care Unit at VCU. Even during my interview with her, Kelly's passion for her staff, the unit that she managed, and for the profession of nursing was undeniably evident. Working for Kelly for five years has had a huge impact on my career, my confidence, and my resilience, which to me makes her a winner! However, her influence and leadership have had an impact beyond just me.
Kelly is a dedicated leader. She became the manager of the CT Surgery Unit in 2004. She managed the unit for 14 years, until being promoted to the Nursing Director for Surgery/Rehab Division in 2018. During her time managing CT Surgery, CLABSI, and CAUTI rates declined, patient satisfaction scores increased, and RN satisfaction scores increased. She led the unit to a Beacon Silver designation in 2016. She fostered the expansion of the unit to 31 beds and mentored countless staff members. Her door was always open if someone needed to talk and she was generous with her time. She was a champion for nursing certification and the clinical ladder. She is also involved in the AACN. She has served on the Nominating Committee and has been the Awards Committee Chair for the Greater Richmond Area Chapter for nine years.
Kelly prioritizes gratitude. After hearing a leading researcher in nursing burnout and resilience speak on the importance of building resilience in healthcare employees, Kelly was inspired to share the information with her staff. She then sent multiple staff members to the Duke University "Increasing Caregiver Resilience" course (including myself!) and developed a yearly competency for all of her staff on CT Surgery. We have all learned from these experiences how to take part in building personal resilience. Staff were taught to build resilience through education, gratitude moments during safety huddle, and guided activities. She helped to change the culture of our unit from one that was dragged down by negativity to one where gratitude and encouragement prevails, even on the busiest of days. She is bringing a passion for gratitude and resilience to her new role as Nursing Director and beyond. Along with Anne Hawkins, DNP, RN, NEBC, Kelly has given presentations on joy and resilience at work at several conferences in Richmond, including Heart Matters. She co-authored an article "Joy at Work: Creating a culture of resilience" which was published in Nursing Management in December 2019.
Kelly is an advocate for nurses. In line with her passion for resilience in nursing, Kelly is also passionate about meaningful recognition. As the nurse manager liaison for the Nursing Recognition and Retention committee, Kelly has empowered staff nurses on the committee to advocate for meaningful recognition during the Week of the Nurse. She encouraged the committee to survey all nurses to find out what would be meaningful to them during this week. She has created opportunities for the committee to share their data and plans with nursing leadership. She routinely provides coaching and mentorship for committee leaders, helping them to have the maximum impact. Kelly has chaired the Week of the Nurse planning committee for the past three years, helping to create the most impactful week for all nursing employees. Her work with the committee is time-consuming, but Kelly does it with joy knowing that she is impacting the nursing employees at VCUHS.
Kelly embodies the ideals of a DAISY Nurse Leader. She is a role model, an encouraging mentor, and a true professional. She is a champion of nurses, and it is an honor to nominate her for this award!