“I have been a nurse for 36 years and value the ability to have a ‘voice’ and advocate for the profession of nursing as well as individuals and society at large within Connecticut,” said Professor Goncalves, an associate professor at Sacred Heart University who became vice president of the Connecticut Nurses Association (CNA).
According to Sacred Heart’s recent press release, “the association exerts its organized influence on education, legislation and compensation to protect and advance the practice of nursing and the health of the people in Connecticut.”
As a member of several committees, ranging from leadership committees to government relations, Goncalves has learned the importance of leadership qualities. Despite emulating those qualities, she did not always envision herself being vice president. Her nurse practice allowed her to understand the significance of that voice, leading to her ultimate decision of taking on the role.
“Nurses are constantly educating patients and families. Nurses also mentor and educate new nurses. Over the years, I have served as a mentor to many new nurses as well as led several project implementations to transform practice within the healthcare setting,” said Goncalves.
Students admire Goncalves’ teaching style.
“The part of her teaching that stands out the most to me is when she discusses her past as a nurse and uses stories to help us learn. She has many stories to share from over the years and all are so helpful and interesting,” said senior Brooke Ziccardi, who is currently a student in Goncalves’s class.
Goncalves did not always see herself teaching, at least not as an educator in the classroom.
“It was only after I received my Doctorate in Nursing that my passion for teaching was ignited and I wanted to share my expertise and experience with the next generation of nurses,” said Goncalves.
Covid-19 brought strict regulations that Sacred Heart professors and students had to follow. When the pandemic first broke out, teaching was fully online. Returning to campus and the classrooms has allowed students to engage with their course material and laboratories fully.
In an interview for Sacred Heart’s TV New’s Magazine Show, The Pulse, Karen Daley, Dean of the College of Nursing, talked about how this pandemic has inspired more students to apply to the college.
“We were expecting between 250 and 300, and we enrolled 375,” said Daley.
Goncalves is excited to get to work in her new role and hopes to continue to inspire nurses throughout the pandemic.
“My hopes and aspirations as vice president include the continuance of efforts and initiatives surrounding advocacy to enhance and protect the viability, health, safety and identity of nurses and the nursing profession, while supporting and protecting the health and well-being of society at large as we emerge from the Covid pandemic and face the next challenges that lie ahead,” Goncalves said in Sacred Heart’s recent press release.
The protection of nurses became all the more important with the Covid outbreak.
“Nurses met more than ever in a variety of venues, including in-person and virtual meetings,” said Goncalves.
Goncalves cannot imagine working in any other field and is grateful for this opportunity to continue her impact in the nursing community.
“It is simply one of the most treasured and rewarding professions an individual can hold. I am a nurse and love being one,” said Goncalves.