PHOTO: Stephanie Chmielewski

Stephanie Chmielewski

Stephanie Chmielewski, MSN, MSCJ, RN, PCCN, HNB-BC, is the gracious recipient of the 2022 American Journal of Nursing/Thelma Schorr Scholarship. “The awardee exemplifies a nursing leader who plans to exercise the “voice” of nursing through speaking, writing, or advocating in the public arena. The American Journal of Nursing renamed their scholarship in 2018 to honor Thelma Schorr.”

Ms. Chmielewski earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing Cum Laude in 2012 from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2022, Stephanie graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Xavier University. Her experiences have molded her into the passionate nurse she is today. She is continuing her journey as a Doctor of Nursing Practice student at Xavier University. After serving as a caregiver for her father, who suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury in 2011, Stephanie was motivated to improve spinal cord injury care at the UC San Diego Health. A spinal cord injury protocol did not exist, creating a lack of confidence and a knowledge deficit for nursing staff. With her constant desire for personal and organizational improvement, she spearheaded a team-oriented initiative to develop the “Trauma Spinal Cord Injury Clinical Practice Guidelines.” The evidence-based research guidelines improve the care of acute and chronic spinal patients. Stephanie created the Spinal Cord Injury Committee in 2020 to enhance the inpatient spinal cord rehabilitation experience. The collaborative group of nurses, advanced practice providers, physicians, and therapists meet monthly to review patient cases to improve spinal care. She has presented poster and podium presentations at local, state, and national conferences on advancing spinal care and reducing delirium.

Ms. Chmielewski’s nursing path at UC San Diego Health has been focused on learning, training, and maturing as a leader. She served in leadership roles as Chair, Co-Chair, and Communication Officer for various organizational groups, including the Unit Based Quality Council, Clinical Practice Council, Professional Development Council, Clinical Practice and Informatics Council, Holistic Integrative Nursing Committee, and the Spinal Cord Injury Committee. She is currently training to become a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for adult patients.

As a result of her work, Stephanie was recognized as the 2020 UC San Diego Health “Overall Clinical Nurse of the Year.” In 2022, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses awarded Ms. Chmielewski as a recipient of the prestigious “Circle of Excellence” award. She was chosen because she models a healthy work environment through skilled communication, true collaboration, effective decision-making, and meaningful recognition. In 2020, Stephanie applied to graduate school at Xavier to continue my professional growth. Her goal was to obtain a Master’s of Science in Nursing and a Master’s of Science in Criminal Justice to integrate my passions for nursing and the law. Working with the trauma population has provided her with many experiences with patients and officers from city police departments; state and federal prison facilities; Immigration and Customs enforcement; and the United States Marshals. Her experiences with patients in custody and law enforcement have generally been positive but occasionally were challenging. When officers became confrontational, and she felt uneasy. She learned how to safely remove herself from highly charged situations through crisis intervention training and when to escalate to management and security. Stephanie sought to better understand the law and her role as a nurse. In her graduate programs, she learned the foundations of forensic nursing and gained more insight into the legal world. With her continued interest in forensics, she began training to become a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center to assist survivors of sexual violence.

Stephanie’s graduate degrees will grant her the opportunity to earn a world-class education to serve vulnerable and at-risk populations. Her mission is to promote holistic health through compassion, research, and innovation. Participating in patient and family-centered care is at the heart of her nursing practice. Through advanced doctoral training in population health leadership, she hopes to continue positively impacting her patients, colleagues, and the larger nursing community.

Thank you to the American Journal of Nursing/Thelma Schorr Scholarship for generously supporting Stephanie in pursuing her dreams.

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