Cheryl Swift, R.N.C., M.S.N.
Cheryl Swift, M.S.N., works in Labor and Delivery at Christiana Care Health System in Newark, DE, and is an adjunct faculty member at Delaware County Community College. Even after working as a nurse for 28 years, she says without hesitation, “It is such a joy to go to work every day—it really is!”
Swift began her professional life as a teacher, having earned a B.S. in education from East Stroudsburg State College. She taught junior high health and physical education for a few years, initiated a physical education program at an elementary school that needed one, and coached field hockey, softball and basketball. But in 1982, Swift returned to school, earning her associate degree in nursing from Delaware Technical and Community College.
She initially worked in medical/surgical but, after the birth of her first child–an experience Swift refers to as “the coolest thing”–she switched her focus to obstetrics, earning certifications in OB inpatient, childbirth teaching, and as a lactation consultant.
Swift began hearing colleagues talk about Immaculata’s accelerated R.N. to B.S.N. program and, eventually, she determined that “it was time for me to look into doing this.”
It took Swift just over two years to complete the program, and she remembers, “There were several teachers who really did stand out, such as Kate Lawler, who taught for my community nursing class. She really made us think and was very supportive of our ideas. She had a way of posing questions that, before you knew it, you had figured it out. She really got you into that critical thinking mode.”
Swift graduated with her B.S.N. from IU in 2007. “Graduation was very exciting! You’d think if you’re older it wouldn’t mean as much, but it did. And I graduated summa cum laude, which was pretty cool. And a lot of the professors attended the graduation, which was neat. It showed that we meant something to them, that they would take the time to be there.”
Swift went on to earn an M.S.N. from Wilmington University in New Castle, DE. “Immaculata really lit my fire about all the opportunities that were out there for me,” she said. “That’s where I took off professionally, and really grew and sought to be involved in more things.”
Swift participates in a variety of programs at Christiana, including acting as chair of the Bereavement Council. “Sometimes we have patients who have losses and, over the years, our council has done things to provide a more supportive, positive experience for these families,” she said. “We’ve incorporated a social worker and pastoral care services, so it’s not just our department that’s involved. We provide things such as memory boxes that hold little gowns hand-smocked and stitched by women from the community, baby blankets and photos. The support services have really grown, and things have gotten so much better for these families.”
A large part of Swift’s desire to work with the Bereavement Council is deeply personal, and stems from a younger sister’s many losses. “I was with her for some of her losses,” said Swift. “Listening to her experiences made me feel as though I had more understanding and compassion, and I wanted to find a way to reach out to other patients because I couldn’t be with her all the time.”
Swift is also involved in the hospital’s mentorship program where experienced nurses shepherd new nurses through the learning and adjustment period. “Our purpose is to help new nurses, who can get overwhelmed. The workload can be really heavy and, without the support they need during stressful times, some nurses leave the profession. Our long-term goal is to prevent that.”
Swift also participates on a hospital-wide council for education that meets once a month. “Whoever wants to make changes brings that to us, how they’re going to present it or roll it out to their staff, and we go over all the material and check things for wording and understanding and clarity. In nursing, things have to be updated constantly.”
Swift also started her fifth year as an OB clinical instructor for DCCC students at Crozer Medical Center. “I love working with nursing students,” said Swift. “The ones I deal with are only part of the way through their first year, so they’re doing things like giving shots in the hospital for the very first time. It’s really fun.”
When she’s not nursing or teaching, Swift runs and works out at the Y. “That’s my total mental release, a time when I don’t think about anything.”
She also loves to travel and when her three daughters, Melanie, Abigail and Hannah, were in college, “I traveled a lot when they were playing sports.”
Swift also likes to read, but admitted, “Right now, I’m reading a no-brainer—just for fun.”