National Nurses United

Registered Nurse September 2008

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Profile:FINAL 9/30/08 3:08 PM Page 19 Once nurses embrace the idea of themselves first and foremost as Center in Oakland, Calif. and has been a CNA/NNOC board member since 2005. Though she's among the board's younger directors, she is patient advocates, then Rodolfo guides them toward the next logical step in thinking: understanding that the best way to be an advocate – already a seasoned public speaker, activist, and nurse leader. After graduating early from high school, Rodolfo headed off to to improve the profession and make positive changes – is through college at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She knew she collective action. Though CNA/NNOC is lucky to have Rodolfo on its board, Rodolwanted to work in the medical field, and a friend who worked as an RN convinced her that registered nursing would be a good career fo feels lucky to have an organization like CNA/NNOC. She especially appreciates how her union is not only willwhere she could find a "good union job." ing, but eager, to tackle the fundamental While still in school, Rodolfo worked as a problems of healthcare, such as supporting certified nursing assistant at the University "I was the 20-something single-payer healthcare instead of tinkering of Wisconsin Hospital and says that she had who knew everything you around the edges. the good fortune of being mentored by a could want to know about "A lot of other unions spend a lot of time "fabulous group of nurses who took the retirement and recite talking about what they can't do," says time" to teach her all the ins and outs of the pension formulas." Rodolfo. "We look at what needs to happen, profession. In her last clinical rotation, where we need to go, and then go do it." Rodolfo decided to specialize in oncology, She believes the United States is at a historical moment where which built upon much of the knowledge she had gained on her unit. Meanwhile, she continued her political activism, participating in "change in healthcare is inevitable," and that RNs will play a key role events such as the national Teamsters strike in 1997. "I spent a lot of in the populist movement to win a single-payer system. It will be an uphill battle against the insurance companies she learned as a teen to time on those picket lines," says Rodolfo. After graduation, Rodolfo started a job as an oncology RN at a dif- fight, but Rodolfo is optimistic that nurses will step up to the chalferent hospital. She shocked her nurse manager there by filing the lenge. "All things being equal, the experience of working as a nurse in a first grievance that had probably been filed in 30 years; her manager was understaffing and scheduling even fewer nursing hours per profit-driven industry leads you to want to fight," says Rodolfo. "You see suffering and you want to do something about it." I patient day than the budget specified. Rodolfo won the grievance. Before long, however, Rodolfo felt drawn to practice nursing in California. For an activist RN, California is the mecca. She already Lucia Hwang is editor of Registered Nurse. knew about CNA/NNOC's reputation in passing ratios and as a progressive union dedicated to truly reforming healthcare. In 2000, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and soon found a job at Summit Medical Center. Rodolfo quickly threw herself into CNA/NNOC activities large and small. She traveled up to Sacramento for rallies, testified and gave comments at public hearings when the ratio numbers were being decided, did interviews with the media, and helped in bargaining – lots of bargaining – for her facility. "I was the 20-something Name: Jan Rodolfo, RN who knew everything you could want to know about retirement and Facility: Alta Bates Summit recite pension formulas," she laughs, referring to her experience barMedical Center gaining the 2002 Sutter contract in which the nurses won a definedUnit: Oncology benefit pension plan and early retiree healthcare. Nursing for: 10 years By 2005, Rodolfo had been elected onto the board of directors. On CNA/NNOC board since: 2005 Today, she continues to play a major leadership role in Sutter barSign: I am boycotting this question gaining, chairing the system-wide council coordinating negotiations Nursing pet peeve: When nurse for this latest round of contracts that so far has yielded some pivotal managers confuse customer service staffing provisions to protect patient safety and even more pension with quality patient care and retiree health improvements. Favorite work snack: Lara bars Though Rodolfo has accomplished so much already, it's clear that Latest work accomplishment: Successful Sutter strikes CNA/NNOC will be depending on her contributions and leadership across the Sutter division for many, many years. The one advantage that comes with being a Color of favorite scrubs: Red younger nurse leader, she says, is that she feels she can better underHobbies: Cooking and fostering animals stand the mindset of new grads and help develop them as patient Favorite musician: Nina Simone advocates. One of her favorite things to do at work is help conduct the Most influential book: Grapes of Wrath by new hire orientations to introduce RNs to CNA/NNOC. "I know John Steinbeck what they were indoctrinated with at school," says Rodolfo. "I proSecret talent unrelated to nursing: Home repair vide them a different worldview and perspective, and identify the need for patient advocacy right away." Profile SEPTEMBER 2008 W W W. C A L N U R S E S . O R G REGISTERED NURSE 19

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