Courtney - NICU

Recognized by VUMCs First Two Year Recruitment and Retention Committee

During a recent First 2 Years Retention and Recruitment Committee meeting we had a discussion about how we could help managers to see the value to implementing the Buddy (Mentor) system on their units.  During this discussion James brought up examples of Courtney Wolf’s practice in the NICU as an example of a nurse who was doing the Buddy System in a unit that had not fully implemented this program.  In Courtney’s advancement packet, examples of her support for newer nurses were not only in her self-feedback tool but also leadership (manager, asst. manager, charge nurse) and peers are familiar with the support she provides to these nurses who have recently come out of orientation.  As we discussed this I had the thought that if we could share these examples of how this program worked and the benefits of it to managers and staff nurses this might be the impetus for getting units to implement the Buddy system.  I would like to nominate Courtney Wolf to appear as a home page nurse for all of the reasons stated above.

Julie Foss, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Medical Intensive Care Unit


As one of the co-chairs of the Be the Best Two Year Recruitment and Retention Committee, I am writing to recommend Courtney Wolf to appear on the home page of the nursing website.  Courtney consistently demonstrates leadership in the staff nurse role, whether she is teaching a family how to manage their newborn’s G-tube before going home, or she is coaching and assisting newer nurses with higher acuity assignments, or providing back up as a charge nurse. Courtney goes the extra mile to help her peers with changes, challenging clinical situations, and ensuring that the nurses on her unit work as a team.  Courtney demonstrates proficiency with coaching, emotional support of coworkers after difficult situations, and demonstrating the positive attitude that can make such a difference in the overall morale of the unit.  I hope you will consider recognizing Courtney Wolf’s contributions on the nursing website.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

Suz Kaprich, BSN, RN, MHA
Administrative Director, Nursing
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

Courtney's Story

I was inspired to become a nurse in the summer of 1999 when I left the country for the first time to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.  That week, I was supposed to help facilitate vacation bible school for the children in the community and help put a roof on a church in the village where we were working.  Our team consisted of two doctors who would treat people in the village who were unable to access healthcare.  Throughout the week I found myself many times helping the doctors and by the end of the week I had been given the title of the "team nurse."   I made many more trips to the Dominican Republic and other third world countries throughout high school and college and developed a love for serving people and caring for them both physically and spiritually.  I loved spending time with the patients that we cared for and getting to know their stories.  I believe this is the essence of what a nurse does and is why I chose to pursue a career in Nursing.

I am now a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.  I take care of critically ill newborns and premature infants.  I actually started out in a different kind of nursing at Vanderbilt, but it was not a good fit for me.  I almost convinced myself that I was not meant to be a nurse and looked into going back to school to get a different degree.  It was a hard time in my life as I had worked so hard the previous 4 years to get my nursing degree.  I had friends who worked in the NICU at Vanderbilt and they loved their jobs.  When I heard them talk about how great the NICU was and how wonderful their coworkers were, I longed to be a part of a unit like that.  After almost convincing myself to quit nursing, my friends and the manager of the NICU, Marlee Crankshaw, convinced me to give the NICU a try.  They all thought that it would be a good fit for me and I am so thankful that they were right!

I also spoke with a nurse that had recently come off orientation and was not satisfied with her assignments.  She felt that she might receive more challenging assignments at another hospital.  I realized that our unit had spent a lot of money and time training her to be a nurse, and if she left we would have to spend more money training another new nurse.  I told this newer nurse that I wanted to work with her so that she could receive more challenging assignments and would be more satisfied with our unit.  We talked about the types of learning experiences she would like to have, including admissions and 1:1 assignments.  As backup charge one night, I learned that we would be getting an admission in the same pod where this nurse was working.  I talked with other nurses working in that pod and collaborated with our charge nurse, and we were able to switch some assignments around so that this particular nurse could admit a baby.  The very next night, the same situation occurred and this nurse was able to admit another baby.  The next week we requested that she take a 1:1 assignment and I would work with her in the same pod.  This nurse was so encouraged by my desire for her to be satisfied here.  She now has no plans of leaving and Vanderbilt will not have to spend money orienting another nurse.  Since working with this nurse, I have worked with 4 other nurses who have felt frustrated because they were not getting the learning experiences and challenges that they had hoped for.  I have worked with these nurses and arranged for them to take more challenging assignments.  As a result, their satisfaction with Vanderbilt has increased and they now express no interest in leaving.  (This example reflects the Buddy System and was used for Courtney's VPNPP advancement to RN 3)

I think nursing is a calling.  This is what I am called to do and that is my motivation to go to work.  It is also very rewarding to get to be a part of miracles.  I love seeing pictures of former NICU babies that were very sick and are now living healthy lives at home.  Many times former NICU babies come back and visit us at work and I am reminded why I love being a NICU nurse.

I love to travel!  People are always asking when my next trip is.  I love Hawaii - it was once my home for 8 months.  I also love to read.  I graduated from Auburn University and I am a huge Auburn fan.  I am not married and do not have any children, but I would really love to adopt kids one day.

Courtney, BSN, RN
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit