For former ANA President Karen Daley, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, the path to leadership has been anything but ordinary. It was during her senior year of high school that she made the decision to enter the nursing field – a decision that would change her life and start her on the path leading to a powerful legacy.
For 26 years, Daley was a staff nurse, and loved her work, until the Fall of 1998 when she started suffering debilitating fatigue and nausea. Determined not to take a sick day from her job in the emergency department of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, she struggled through work – unable to eat and quickly losing weight. Daley was devastated to learn that she had contracted HIV and hepatitis C from an accidental needlestick only 6 months earlier.
When she first came in, this little girl wouldn't look at anybody, said Alleva, a pediatric intensive care unit nurse at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx. She knew it was her job to make a connection and comfort her patient while providing a support system for the family and maintaining the machines that kept this young child alive until her new heart arrived. Alleva has acknowledged how others may see the challenging nature of working with pediatrics in intensive care. The challenges are what inspire me to bring the best of my nursing ability to the bedside, said Alleva. My husband… has gotten more comfortable with my tales of the PICU. And when I go running downstairs screaming, 'My patient got her heart,' … he knows to smile and jump up and hug me."