Paper names Michelle Giffin one of Wyoming’s top nurses for National Nurses Week

By Kristy Bleizeffer May 11, 2016

Michelle Giffin, R.N., was named one of Wyoming's Top Nurses by the Casper Star-Tribune.

Michelle Giffin has been a nurse for 17 years, 6 ½ of those at Wyoming Medical Center. As a quality and regulatory analyst, she doesn’t practice at the bedside anymore. But her work still translates to good patient care.

“I absolutely believe the basics of nursing are making sure that patients get excellent care and are treated like family. I work as a partner with the bedside nurses to make sure that they have everything they need to give patients that excellent care,” Giffin said. “I can look at a chart and know, because of certain things that I’ve helped implement, that it has improved how we care for a patient.”

On Sunday, the Casper Star-Tribune named Giffin one of Wyoming’s top nurses in its special section, “Celebrate Nurses, 2016.” She was one of just three nurses picked out of 92 nominees from across the state. The paper publishes the section each year during National Nurses Week.

Giffin earned her master’s degree in nursing informatics three years ago. At Wyoming Medical Center, she has been a member of our Meaningful Use Committee, the Patient Family Advisory Council and leader of the Decontamination Response Team. Last year, as a member of the Stewardship Committee, she coordinated the first annual Employee Giving Tree which served 29 WMC families at Christmastime. 

Why did you become a nurse?

I am a woman of faith and, when I was 12, I went to a youth conference. One of the questions we talked about was, “What does God want you to do in your life to serve?” I got a very clear feeling. I just knew I was supposed to be a nurse. It made college very easy to decide what I wanted to do.

I was homeschooled from eighth grade on. I started college classes when I was 16. I graduated high school in 1997 at 18 years old, and I went directly into the nursing program. I graduated in 1999 and went straight into the bachelor’s program through UW Casper College.

Why do you think nursing was your calling?

It’s funny because a lot of nurses talk about loving people and being compassionate, and I feel that too, but I am very detail oriented. I’m very analytical. Nursing totally works for my brain. It’s assessing the patient or the situation, making a decision based on the circumstances and your knowledge, and moving forward. It’s very methodical, and it totally works for my personality. I also have a huge desire to help, to be there to support people in their best and worst times of life.

How did you get into the analyst side of nursing?

When I started at Wyoming Medical Center 6 ½ years ago, I was a single mother of four. Having a Monday through Friday job worked for my family. Also, I love technology. Combining my nursing knowledge with all of the background technology it takes to analyze it, was right up my alley.

What are you analyzing?

I specifically look at nursing documentation. So, sometimes it could be as simple as looking at whether a nurse’s documentation was completed according to our policy. Sometimes, it could be as complex as deciding whether the nurse documented enough to explain the whole story of what was going on with the patient at a particular time. I try to explain to nurses that I am their advocate. I enjoy helping young nurses use their critical thinking skills and using technology to their advantage.

The thing I really advocate for is trying to make sure whatever technology or whatever documentation that we’re changing within our Electronic Medical Record, it is appropriate for the nursing process. That it doesn’t impact the care they give the patient. So it’s not just a bunch more boxes they have to fill in, but so that they can give the most amount of information with the least amount of clicks or boxes.

Do you ever miss bedside?

I do. I miss the patient interaction. I’m a people person and so sometimes it’s hard for me because I sit in an office. I do get to go out on the floors and do observations. A lot of nurses see me doing rounding on their floors to make sure we are meeting all the national patient safety goals, but I don’t get on the floor as much as I would like to.

How does it feel to be nominated?

Unfortunately, the downside to not being a bedside nurse, is people don’t necessarily know that you’re a nurse. Most of the time I’m just seen as an office person, which is fine, but I am still a nurse. I don’t know who nominated me, but it’s nice to be recognized.

What does good patient care mean to you?

Good patient care really, for me, is treating the whole person. No matter why they come in or what their presenting issue is, to make sure that you assess and look at the person as a whole. Make sure that you are treating why they came in, but maybe also identifying a need that they don’t even know they have. Making sure that not only are you connecting with them in a personal way, but talking with them about their grandkids or their children or their dog, whatever is important to them. Treating them like a person and not just a patient in a bed. 

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