2020 Nurse of the Year

PCNA 2020 Nurse of the Year – Leah Goodwin

We’re delighted to announce our PCNA Nurse of the Year. Leah’s coworkers on the 7th floor of St. Joseph Medical Center surprised her with the announcement at work.

Nominators wrote about Leah’s leadership, passion and dedication as well as her mentoring of new nurses and vast nursing knowledge and skill. We look forward to celebrating Leah throughout 2020! Congratulations, Leah!

Raised in Spanaway, Leah is a lifelong Washingtonian who climbed Mt. Rainier three times with her father. She began her career in nursing by earning her LPN degree at Clover Park Technical College. After working in nursing homes for a few years, she was hired at St. Joseph Hospital where she worked in the float pool while earning her BSN. She graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in 1987. For the last 32 years, Leah’s worked at SJMC on the Medical/Surgical unit spending the last 30+ years on the 7th floor night shift as a staff nurse and a charge nurse. “I love my night shift. It works well for me. I am not a morning person.”

“Imagine yourself as a patient and give the care you would like to receive.”

Over the years, Leah has mentored many young nurses. She feels she was “lucky to get training from veteran nurses” when she started and feels it’s important to return the favor and mentor young nurses. “I remember my first night very well. I tell new nurses, ‘the first six months, you feel like you’re disorganized and have so much to learn and you can feel overwhelmed”. But by a year, you’ll think ‘now I feel more confident as a nurse.” It does get easier.”  She also works to share her deep passion for compassionate patient care and the importance of teamwork. She encourages them to “imagine yourself as a patient and give the care you would like to receive.” She encourages them to ask questions and be open to teaching and not to be too hard on themselves. She also shares with them that it’s important to adapt to change because there will always be changes – it’s important to be “Flexible like Gumby” and then explains who Gumby is.

Leah has served on many committees including a couple of years on the contract negotiation team. She’s been active for several years on the Pharmacy/Nursing Committee that works to prevent medication errors. She was involved with setting up a procedure to help decrease interruptions when passing meds. “Being a nurse is having ideas and putting them out there.” She encourages new nurses to get involved on committees and to constantly be learning and growing. “Every day is a different day and there will always be something new to learn.”

“I never realized how much I’ve touched people’s lives by teaching. I love working with my co-workers and managers.”

Leah’s impact on other nurses was very evident in the numerous nominations we received but Leah was surprised by her nomination for Nurse of the Year “I never realized how much I’ve touched people’s lives by teaching. I love working with my co-workers and managers.” The nominations echo that love and respect. They highlight Leah’s amazing nursing skills as well as her passion for patient and staff safety and mentorship of new nurses. Leah was described as a “vault of knowledge”, the “OG of nurses”, “the go-to person for nursing questions”, and “the rock of the night shift.” They also spoke of Leah’s big smile.

Leah’s passion for learning and teamwork continues outside of work too. In 2000, she purchased a Ford Model A on eBay because “it was cute.” Leah and her husband now own four Model A’s and she is very involved with the Gallopin Gertie Model A Club of Tacoma and volunteers at the LeMay Collections at Marymount Car Museum. She enjoys working on the Model A’s and is helping to restore a 1930 Ford Model A Cabriolet at the LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma.  Leah’s husband of 31 years, Allen, is very supportive of her work as a nurse and her volunteer work. 

As Leah reflects on the last 35 years as a nurse, Leah shares that she is “proud to be a nurse and to be able to touch the lives of patients, families and coworkers.” She has particularly enjoyed being a bedside nurse. “By offering bedside care, I have hopefully made a difference and provided care with a smile.”

Every year, Pierce County Nurses Association honors one of our outstanding members as the PCNA Nurse of the Year. The Nurse of the Year is a nurse nominated by his/her fellow nurses and selected by the PCNA Board of Directors. 

Thank you to April Rhodes and Michelle Caro for capturing photos of the announcement.