Candidate for Nominating Committee: Kelly Carter


Kelly Carter, MS, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager

Virginia Commonwealth University Health System
Richmond, Virginia

Experience and Activities

Chapter Membership

  • Greater Richmond Area Chapter, 2001-present 
    • President, 2009-2010, 2004-2005

AACN Commitment and Involvement in the Past 3 Years

Includes how the candidate integrated AACN's mission and work into her current role and practice. Local and national volunteer activities are listed, if applicable.

  • Awards Committee Chair, Greater Richmond Area Chapter (GRAC-AACN), 2011-present.
  • Speaker at Region 4 meeting on “Chapter Success Through the Use of Merit Points,” March 2013
  • Coordinated with chapter leaders the applications that achieved two 2010 chapter awards — Excellence in Educational Planning and the President’s Award
  • Promoted membership in GRAC-AACN and national AACN.
  • As nurse manager, actively promote AACN membership and the value of certification for staff RNs.
  • Currently working with bedside nurses at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System (VCUHS) to submit a unit application for the Beacon Award for Excellence.
  • Healthy work environment standards are the platform for care in the unit where I am a leader.
  • In the last year, doubled the number of staff who are PCCN-certified in my unit.

Key Professional Activities Outside AACN in the past 3 Years

Includes involvement with other professional organizations, teaching and/or speaking.

  • Member, Sigma Theta Tau International, 1989-present
  • Member, VCUHS Safety Council, 2008-present. A forward-thinking group of health system leaders who lead VCUHS’s culture of transformation to become a high reliability organization with zero events of preventable harm.
  • Member, VCUHS Operational Leadership Council, 2014. This council’s purpose is to develop and execute the operational plan to achieve the vision of Patient Care Services in collaboration with the Interprofessional Governance Council, establish annual strategic goals for Patient Care Services, monitor and use clinical and operational outcomes to guide decisions, provide oversight and support of other operational councils, and promote a healthy work environment and relationship-based care.
  • Chair, Nurse Manager Council, VCUHS, 2012-2013. Led this 72-nurse manager peer council to achieve strategic goals of Patient Care Services.
  • Ohler L, Schaeffer M, Carter K, George D. Inpatient Transplant Unit Management. In: Kirk A, Knechtle S, Larsen CP, Pearson T, Madsen J, Webber S, eds. Textbook of Organ Transplantation. New York, NY: John Wiley; 2014:1509-1517.

Issues Statement

Compassion fatigue in nursing was first identified in the 1950s. Also known as burnout, compassion fatigue can be the result of trauma, repeated traumatic events or repeated exposure to emotionally taxing situations over a long period of time. The symptoms of compassion fatigue can be depression, stress and hopelessness.

 As nurses, we are always caring for others, both personally and professionally. Nurses are repeatedly exposed to negative, stressful situations, coupled with external and internal stressors. This repeated exposure to stressful situations, whether at home, with family or with self, combined with the stressful nature of our positions, can lead to compassion fatigue. If left untreated or unrecognized, compassion fatigue can lead to significant losses in our workforce.

As nurses, we must put ourselves first on our list of priorities and proactively seek opportunities for self-care. Frequently, we fail to do this. Healthcare organizations must recognize the adverse impact of compassion fatigue on their workforce. They must support and provide the resources to facilitate nurses in the process of self-care. Many organizations do this through programs that promote work-life balance. However, on-site services such as debriefing sessions, quiet areas for relaxation activities, massages, etc., would promote immediate stress relief for staff.

As an organization, AACN supports nurses to do their best work in environments that benefit patients and families. It is my hope that AACN will continue to highlight and promote messaging for our members and our workforce to take care of self first. The nursing community must bring our creativity, commitment and passion together for the benefit of patients and, ultimately, for ourselves as professionals. Our ability to self-care effectively and successfully will build resilience and sustain us to provide excellent nursing care for acutely and critically ill patients and their families.

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