Christine (Crissy) Basiliere, RN, BSN, MBA, chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, had a choice to make: law school or nursing school. With a stellar score on her LSAT exam, her mind was on law, but her heart was in nursing.
Basiliere chose to follow her heart and began her career as a labor and delivery charge nurse at Sharp Memorial Hospital and then Sharp Chula Vista, where she went on to become director of Women's and Infants' Services and in 2010, chief nursing officer (CNO). Below, Basiliere plays word association with phrases commonly used to describe nurses.
"An open heart. I think the most compassionate nurses are those who allow themselves to get close to patients. I think of our ER nurses, our oncology nurses — all nurses. They share their lives with patients. There's vulnerability because you get to know patients' family, fears and the story of their lives."
"Bernadette. When I think of skill, the person who comes to mind is Bernadette Balestrieri-Martinez, clinical nurse specialist at Sharp Chula Vista. She was my preceptor when I was a new nurse. She taught me the meaning of patient-centered care and putting patients first. The way I learned how to start an IV was on her. I gave her bruises in the beginning. Once I got it, though, I got it and I became the go-to nurse for starting IVs."
"My five children. I've always been a working mom. My daughter was born in 1988 and I started at Sharp in 1989. I've worked very hard to balance my work life with my life at home. I always incorporated my kids into my life as a nurse. They knew that when I had to leave them, it was because I was helping bring babies into the world. They always knew I would be back."
Basilere pursued her career with Sharp while raising her children, who are now in their 20s.
"People. To be a nurse, you have to love people and being a part of other people's lives. I think back to the year there was an earthquake on Easter. When the hospital started to shake, dads rushed to their babies to protect them. It was incredible to see how they all did the same thing without hesitation. I remember I had a patient with whom I developed a strong bond. She had a baby boy. She was so thankful that she sent me a dozen roses. One of the greatest joys of being a nurse is getting to experience many different types of love. There's also the love between people that you see every day in the hospital. I see it between our nursing staff. They celebrate each other — the weddings, the graduations, the new babies — all the special moments in their lives.
"For 25 years as an OB nurse, I heard the sound of tiny heartbeats. I heard that sound every day I went to work. When I became CNO and moved to my office downstairs, someone asked me what I missed the most. Those brand-new heartbeats. I miss those tiny, precious heartbeats. I go upstairs sometimes just to hear them."