Dawnn Wright, RN, knew early on that nursing is a flexible career. And it’s not uncommon for nurses to perform a variety of leadership roles that play into the variety of fields the career offers.
“You can flex it anywhere from sports medicine to obstetrics — all of that,” said Wright, director of nursing at Kingwood Skilled Nursing and Therapy, located in Oklahoma City.
She will eventually become an administrator for Bridges Health. She has almost completed her administrative training.
“So, I’m burning the candle at both ends,” she said.
Her nursing experience gives her a keen understanding of the nuances and processes that happen in long-term care and skilled nursing.
“But having been in long-term care and seeing the impact nursing has, especially on the community that I serve — getting in the role of administrator gives me the opportunity to make decisions on a different level,” Wright said.
At first, she tried to enter nursing in the military, except a vision issue prevented her goal. As a first-generation college student, she sought out opportunities.
Wright earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Langston University in 1998. Wright began her career as an LPN at what was then-Grace Living Center immediately after college. (STORY CONTINUES BELOW)
Her most impactful moment as a nurse came when her first patient expired during the height of COVID, she said.
In order not to spread the virus, families were not permitted to enter the rooms of their loved ones. Wright would hold an iPad so the families could tell their loved how much they loved them. Wright understood that a grandmother would have died alone if she had not been there.
“I’d have to be the stand-in and hold grandma’s hand. The whole family would be crying,” she explained. “It was humbling. You kind of felt defeated because you couldn’t do anything for the patient. But you felt rewarded that you were able to stand in for the families at the time even though it was such a terrible experience.”
Masks are still required in most hospitals and nursing homes, but the disease has a less of an impact on mortality as it did in the height of the pandemic.
Wright said that out of the Bridges corporate staff, Kingwood Skilled Nursing & Therapy has the most longevity. An 80-year-old housekeeper retired last year after being on the job for 53 years. One of the nurses worked herself up the career ladder with more than 20-plus years of experience.
“I admire the tenacity of my staff there. Some started when $2 an hour was probably a good wage, and they’ve been there through all of the changes, the pandemic, and they are still there,” Wright said. “It says something about them, that they’re not there for the money. They’re there for the people and it shows.”
She encourages the staff to embrace educational opportunities offered by Bridges Health. She says that she likes letters behind her name, so her successes will be recognized when asking for leadership positions.
It’s been said the only thing constant is change. The most overlooked aspect of being a nurse is the ability to flex by putting a skill, ability, or talent to use, she said. Wright tells nurses they may come to work glad their patient is well. But the next day, the nurse may need to determine why the same patient cannot walk.
Nursing takes cooperation and teamwork, not being territorial on one hall needs arise, she explained.
“I subscribe to the theory that they are all our patients,” Wright added. “You should feel comfortable with whatever patient you are working with. So, I make them change often, so that they can adapt to that change and be comfortable with that.”
Wright remembers when she thought she had a lot of patience. However, nursing taught her that she needed to learn more about patience.
“I had to learn to stand down and be in the moment,” she said. “This person just got back on their feet with therapy for walking. It’s a huge accomplishment, and certainly they can’t walk fast because I walk fast in a hurry to get down the hall. So, it was humbling to slow down and recognize what’s going on.”
Wright balances her life by being active when not at work. She’s an avid roller-skater and dances with a group that travels to Texas.
“In 2023 I look forward to more nurses entering the field, so that the ones here aren’t stretched as thin as they are. There is a shortage everywhere. And so, I’m looking forward to rounding out so we can have the staffing again, and we can all have that down time,” she said.
For more information about Kingwood Skilled Nursing & Therapy, visit: https://kingwoodok.com