No single job title can possibly describe everything Darlene Bradley does for UCI.
She’s an educator, community advocate, researcher and nationally recognized leader in emergency nursing. She’s director of Emergency/Trauma Services at UC Irvine Medical Center. Above all, she’s a nurse – one whose commitment to her multiple roles helped earned her the spring 2007 Living Our Values Award for individuals who have worked at UCI for five or more years.
“Darlene is simply the ideal partner to manage a busy urban emergency department,” Dr. Mark Langdorf, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, wrote in his letter of nomination. “She lives the values embodied in this award.”
No matter her role, she constantly demonstrates empathy for others. As an administrator, she’s helped implement programs that put the patient first, such as the Through the Patient’s Eyes program. As a nurse, she shows compassion by interacting with patients.
“Darlene never hesitates when the emergency department is full to get into her white coat and care for patients side by side with her staff until the crisis is over,” wrote Gay Serway, senior director of special projects in Administration at the medical center, who also nominated her.
Bradley’s sensitive to her staff’s needs. Knowing her team of 100 nurses, techs, clerks and transporters works hard caring for almost 40,000 patients a year, she makes them feel appreciated in all kinds of ways. She’s always ready with heartfelt praise or surprise goodies, especially on days that celebrate their various professions. A sign that morale on her watch is high: In an acute nursing shortage, her department has a waiting list for openings.
“I believe in shared governance style of management,” Bradley says. “I don’t hesitate to relinquish authority. I have full trust in my staff. I have never worked with a more capable group.”
She encourages staff members to continue learning. Her own intellectual curiosity is evident from the long string of letters after her name: R.N., M.A.O.M., C.N.S., C.C.R.N., M.I.C.N., C.E.N., F.A.E.N., M.S.N. In addition to nursing certificates and master’s degrees, she’s a doctoral candidate in health care administration at Capella University.
“I like to keep my skills current,” she says. “I don’t want to be someone who just says, ‘Do what I say.’ I want to provide the same level of care as the staff does.”
Bradley’s impact has been felt beyond UCI. Among her many leadership titles, she’s board chairman of the state Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT), and she was the 2004 state president of the Emergency Nurses Association, as well as Orange County chapter president in 2003. Whenever a national disaster such as a flood or earthquake is declared, she travels to the site, setting up hospitals in austere environments. She was on the scene of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.
In 2002, she was honored as Emergency Nurse Manager of the Year by the Emergency Nurses Association, and received the ENA’s State Leadership Award in 2004.
“I do this because I love nursing,” Bradley says. “I love taking care of patients.”