It’s well-known that Michelle Czarnecki knows her stuff! As an advanced practice nurse in the Jane B. Pettit Pain and Headache Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Michelle works with kids to help manage pain that comes as a result of a medical condition or surgical procedure. She also helps wean them from pain medications after they leave the hospital. It’s no surprise to me, or any of her patients, that she was selected as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Nurse of the Year.
Michelle was selected out of nearly 300 nurses from across southeast Wisconsin who were nominated. This award showcases the compassion and dedication she has for her work, which has made major differences in the pain control of thousands of kids hospitalized throughout the years.
Michelle has taught me and many other care providers different tricks and techniques to solve the acute pain issues our patients experience. Surgeons and pediatricians call her directly for advice on pain management. Michelle embraces Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s role as a teaching hospital, and she often educates floor nurses and resident physicians about pain-related issues while tending to her patients’ needs.
We’ve built a strong reputation for managing acute and chronic pain among children’s hospitals across the U.S., and I believe Michelle is a big reason for this. When she isn’t caring for patients, she spends many hours researching pain management. She’s led several research initiatives directed at improving pain management for children, resulting in several journal publications.
Right now, Michelle and her team are working on a study involving pain management in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The study may lead to a new way of managing pain for babies not only in our NICU, but for babies across the country.
On a very personal note, Michelle has experienced firsthand a major health struggle. She was diagnosed with cancer about one year ago. She underwent a major surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — yet this seemed to be only a small “hiccup” for her.
For three consecutive years, the Nurse of the Year winner or first runner-up has been from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. I have to think that’s not by chance!
As we celebrate National Nurses Week, I am excited to recognize the work of Michelle and all our nurses at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin who live our values and support our mission. Every day, they provide the best and safest care for the children and families we serve.