In honor of National Nurses Week this May 6-12 UConn Today spotlights the extraordinary work of one longtime nurse supervisor, Julie Valentine, BSN, R.N., of UConn John Dempsey Hospital. Valentine is a 2019 recipient of a Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing, part of Connecticut’s largest statewide nursing recognition program.
After midnight, the buck stops with Julie Valentine. In the wee hours, when visitors, administrators, and many of the doctors have gone home, the nursing supervisor is the one in charge. Third shift is a different world, one Valentine has navigated with aplomb for the past 23 years.
“It’s really hard to be a nurse supervisor. You make tough decisions. You’re representing the administration. Julie has a really strong sense of when and how to do the right thing,” says Debra Abromaitis, director of clinical regulatory compliance at UConn Health.
One of the primary jobs of a nurse supervisor at UConn John Dempsey Hospital is to marshall staff in emergencies. One summer night, when there was several patients in Labor and Delivery (L&D) who needed critical care simultaneously, Valentine pulled in a nurse from the intensive care unit. Nursing is very specialized and a nurse from intensive care might feel completely out of her element in L&D, but Valentine calmly told the nurse to handle the blood transfusions—a common intensive care task—so that the L&D nurses could focus on what they did best.
Simultaneously, Valentine mobilized staff in the operating room, coordinated supplies and people and made sure every patient and staff member had what they needed.
“Julie is highly respected for her decision making process and problem solving skills with patients and staff safety always in mind,” says Associate Nursing Director Anna Humennyj. “She is extremely responsive and never backs away from a challenge, always going above and beyond and with a positive, caring approach. She is indeed our emergency preparedness content expert.”
“She always looks out of the box and tries to make things better for everyone else,” Hummennyj says.
Valentine also is a member on UConn Health’s Emergency Preparedness committee. Whatever she learns, she shares with the other nurse supervisors and staff. She does it in her modest but effective style. She’ll visit an area and casually ask questions “if this happened, what would you do?”
“She is a supervisor’s supervisor,” says Nursing Supervisor Jane Presnick-Lyon. “She’s a wealth of knowledge, she knows the policies, she knows the history, she knows the why as well as the what and how,” Presnick-Lyon says.
Valentine began working at UConn Health immediately after graduating from UConn’s School of Nursing. She began as a medical surgical nurse, then joined the float pool and worked in different units until she became a supervisor in 1996.
“At night, I represent hospital administration. As a nursing supervisor, I have an aerial view of the hospital, and admire the dedication of my fellow nurses. We wear a lot of hats,” Valentine says.
And she wears them well.