by Matt Batcheldor
Advanced practice nurses, physician assistants and Medical Center leaders gathered in Light Hall on Jan. 17 for the kickoff of the 2023 series of Advanced Practice Grand Rounds, a monthly educational series organized by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Office of Advanced Practice.
The session, the first kickoff in person after two years of virtual presentations, featured a keynote address from Kristy Sinkfield, MEd, Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. Sinkfield, an 18-year veteran of Vanderbilt and a 2020 Five Pillar Leader Award winner, gave the presentation “Nursing Your Purpose: Finding Deep Meaning in Our Work.”
Sinkfield interviewed a variety of VUMC’s Advanced Practice Providers (APP) to find out why they’re passionate about their jobs and shared what she learned. A common thread, as one clinical nurse midwife put it, was “remember your why,” Sinkfield recounted. “Your own story, what brought you to now, your mentors, your family, the importance of our simple interactions with patients. They are meaningful and have a significant potential to be impactful. Our interactions, your interactions change lives.”
A certified registered nurse anesthetist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt added: “Remembering our why helps put things back in perspective, and doing so can remind us of our original purpose.”
Another nurse found deep meaning in the emergency department, helping people with limited resources. Her advice: “Identify what you love and try to do more of that.”
Sinkfield connected the APP stories to a concept rooted in Japan for centuries called ikigai, simply meaning “reason to live.”
“Your Ikigai is a way of life, for a journey, not a destination,” she said. “It’s following your passion on any given day is a day worth treasuring. Following your ikigai every day is your route to living.
“Your ikigai wakes you up in the morning and leads you away from a mundane, status quo lifestyle. It empowers you, it drives your functions, your purpose. It’s your sweet spot.”
Inspired by the APP stories, Sinkfield encouraged attendees to share their own.
“All of you have a story to tell,” she said. “But I do hope you would take some time to meet those you don’t know. Learn their story. Share with each other.”
Sinkfield shared her own story. Her connection to Vanderbilt began in the late 1970s through her mother, Kathryn Roberson Russell, who was a vascular technician in radiology for 23 years. Today, Sinkfield works to advance racial equity where her mother was never promoted despite expertise and years of service.
She closed her presentation with the story of her father at the moment of his death at the VA and the nurses who constantly cared not only for him, but for her.
“It was time, and he could not bear to watch me watch him in despair,” she said. “You said, “go,” and I did. You called me, and I came. And held my hand as he laid in peace. He was dead. You didn’t run and hide. You stayed with me… you nursed your purpose. It was desperately needed, and all of us are in debt, and you are celebrated today.”
Sinkfield’s presentation, which was also streamed live, was just the first of a monthly series of grand rounds topics. The next presentation, “The Trach/PEG Service: How Nurse Practitioner-Driven Services Improve Patient Care,” will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18, in 202 Light Hall. Virtual options are available for all the presentations.
“Advanced Practice professionals continue to grow in response to VUMC’s expansion of services to meet the needs of a growing Middle Tennessee,” said Brent Dunworth, DNP, MBA, APRN, CRNA, NEA-BC, associate nurse executive for Advanced Practice. “This monthly opportunity for our practitioners to pause for some professional development and peer camaraderie is just one of the great benefits that the Office of Advanced Practice provides as a service to the organization. We are thankful for Ms. Sinkfield’s talents and remarks this month. She reminded us of the power and connectedness that comes from sharing our personal stories with one another.”
During the kickoff session, the 2023 Advanced Practice Ambassador Award was presented to Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry, and chair of the Department of Medicine. The award honors non-advanced practice providers for their contributions to the profession.
For more information about Advanced Practice Grand Rounds and the Office of Advanced Practice, visit https://www.vumc.org/nursing-oap/welcome.