At AA&MDSIF, we deeply appreciate the vital role nurses play in patient care – they are wonderful listeners, educators, motivators, and knowledgeable professionals who make a difference every day in the lives of so many patients and families. This past May, in celebration of National Nurses Week, we asked patients to tell us about their favorite nurse. Four different individuals wrote to tell us about one particular nurse - Barbara Weinstein, RN, BSN, CCRP, a Research Nurse Specialist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute – and what she has meant to them.
Wanda was the first to write to us; “Since day one I have felt great comfort in knowing that Barbara is my nurse. She has always been there whether it was over the phone or in person, with all the answers to any questions I may have. When anybody is going through a life changing experience …it’s nice to have someone in your life other than family who really cares.”
A longtime member of the AA&MDSIF Patient Education Council, Barbara talked to us about why she went into nursing and how she ended up as a research nurse at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “I had not considered nursing at first, but my younger sister was going into nursing, so I decided to do that, too. I found as I got further into the program, I was really enjoying what I was doing. I saw the possibilities of what a nurse could do. Being able to help and empower people really appealed to me.”
Barbara’s career as a nurse started on a medical-surgical nursing unit at a small community hospital in New Jersey, 27 years ago. She subsequently worked as a charge nurse at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, on a cardiothoracic surgical step - down unit at the Washington Hospital Center, followed by the Occupational Medical Service at the NIH. When a position opened up in the NHLBI Hematology Branch 10 years ago, Barbara stepped into the role that she has so successfully pursued ever since. Aplastic anemia patient Mary is glad that she did! “She was welcoming and comforting from day one. She makes me feel she is my advocate and Barbara is always available to respond to my needs or to alleviate fears. She is extremely kind and thoughtful.”
Barbara enjoys the multitasking, behind-the-scenes work required by her job as a research nurse as well. She spends a lot of time on the phone talking to patients who call with questions and concerns. They call Barbara to be sure everything is OK, and to find out what to do. Nadia writes that “She entered my life during a very frightening period for me. However busy she is, she has always made time for me. She is a personal, warm and encouraging contact when I see her. Barbara gets answers to my questions and concerns from afar. I feel like I have a real ally in her, and that is so important when dealing with a serious disease.” Sally adds that, “I believe that NIH and Barbara Weinstein saved my husband's life. Barbara is efficient, pleasant, and kind - everything one would want in a nurse and friend.”
Barbara truly enjoys her interactions with patients and their families. She recalls how, recently, one of her patients said, “You listen to me and you heard me.” She notes, “this reminder of why I am here and the impact I have on patients’ lives always puts a smile on my face.”
We are smiling too! AA&MDS thanks Barbara for all that she, and her many colleagues in the nursing field, do to help patients and families with bone marrow failure diseases.