Meet our Chief Nursing Officer Sheri Testani: Part 1

Q: Where did your nursing career begin?
I started my nursing career in the adult surgical and burn intensive care units. As a young nurse, I wanted to learn all there was about our profession, so I moved about every few years to garner experience in the many areas that touch the lives of our patients and their families. The areas that I was a bedside/clinical nurse include: medical/surgical, neonatal intensive care, cardiac catheterization, operating room, emergency room and home care. I later moved into leadership in the cath lab and critical care units serving as manager, then elevating to an administrative director for critical care at Harper University Hospital, part of the Detroit Medical Center. I was then fortunate to be given the opportunity to serve as the Chief Nursing Officer at Detroit Receiving Hospital, a level one trauma and burn center as well as behavioral/mental health services. My most recent CNO role was in South Florida.

Q: Why did you choose nursing as your profession?
A: My aunt was a nurse and she was such a role model to me growing up. I was fascinated with her love for learning and caring for others. She was in infection control and I was very interested in her going to the CDC and coming back with all these stories of “bugs” that make people sick. Understanding how the hospital put processes into place to reduce the risk of transmission or finding a cure captivated me.

Q: Can you share a story about a patient that you will never forget?
A: I was rounding on patients and as I entered this patient’s room, I found myself sitting at the bedside listening to an 86-year-old German woman named “Charlotte” who was quite a historian. As I sat in her room, she shared with me her upbringing, her immigration to America and all the challenges that went along with this journey, her large family, her work as a mother and her now adult children’s success. I could hear her missing them as they lived out of state and she seemed lonely as she was a widow. We interacted for about 30 minutes. She intrigued me with her worldly views and funny whit. She then asked if I had any children. When I responded yes, her eyes lit up and she asked their ages. When I replied elementary school age, she immediately smiled with her eyes and although ill and in a hospital bed, attempted to reach into her large purse and pulled out 3 children’s story books. She began to tell me while rearing her children, she took an interest in writing and authored more than a dozen children’s books. How wonderful I thought, I have met a children’s author, and more importantly created a personal connection with our patient. After I learned about her, we chatted about her plan of care and medications. At the end of our conversation, she asked my younger daughter’s name and asked for my pen. She autographed two books and asked that I please share her work with my daughter. How honored I felt as I exited the room. I, too, had a smile from ear to ear and a glimmer in my eye. This is the essence of our practice, to care and connect with our patients and their families.

Q: What advice can you share with aspiring nurses or those that are thinking about choosing healthcare as a career?
A: Nursing exists to provide compassionate care to individuals and their loved ones. It is a profession that is both an art and a science; caring and compassion with understanding the physiology and pathophysiology of the human body. Nurses have a unique opportunity to share in sacred moments with patients and their families and help them during times of illness and suffering. We help patients and their families maintain health, affect healing, cope during times of stress and suffering and when all medical options are exhausted, to experience a dignified and peaceful death. We are teachers, healers, guides, leaders and connectors for our patients and families. Cultivating an environment of trust and communication are key attributes of our profession. Nursing touches the mind, body and soul of people. The beauty of nursing is what we have such opportunity to contribute to the health and well-being of our communities and there are so many areas to work in including hospital setting, community, home care, telehealth, and so on. Think of it this way: You will likely always find/have work to keep you gratified in your pursuit for professional happiness.

Check back soon for Part 2!