Gayle Robinson, PhD, RN, was among 22 individuals and several organizations recently honored by the NW Asian Weekly Foundation for their contributions to the health of the community.
“Dr. Robinson is an inspiring educator, esteemed colleague, and revered community leader with a commitment to empowering others. We are so grateful for her clear vision, community focus and deep dedication to the formation of our students as the next generation of health care leaders,” said Dean Kristen Swanson.
Dr. Robinson is an assistant professor who joined the Seattle U College of Nursing faculty in 2015. She took some time out to share with us about her beginnings, how she came to become a nurse educator, and a glimpse at her lifetime of service to the community.
What drew you to your current position at SU?
What drew me to be an assistant professor at SU, is the focus on teaching and being a part of a university program that had social justice threaded across departmental curriculums.
Why did you decide to pursue a career as a nurse and as a nurse educator?
The short story is that my beginning journey in nursing evolved out of a need to care for a young family. However, I knew I wanted to be in health care and thought that I would have the chance to care for the adults who took care of me when I was growing up (my grandmother, uncles, aunts, and my parents).
What is your favorite part of teaching and mentoring SU nursing students?
My favorite part of teaching and mentoring SU nursing students is to watch students be excited about what they are learning. I love seeing the expressions on their faces when they have those “a ha moments.” I hope with the mentoring that I convey that we both have ideas, aspirations, and experiences to share. I hope that I am conveying that in the relationship, we are learning from each other.
You recently received a Community Health Excellence Award from the NW Asian Weekly Foundation. Would you share a little about your work in the community?
I was nominated for this award, and I am grateful to the NW Asian Weekly Foundation and the work of Assunta Ng, that I was selected to be among the honorees for the community health excellence award. The recognition was related to community service work that many of us are doing, because of the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in our communities and our history of community service. When you get a chance to listen to the honorees you will hear about service they are doing now, and about the community health work some were doing prior to the pandemic.
In my volunteer work with Mary Mahoney Professional Nursing Organization (MMPNO), I had the opportunity to work with The Center for Multicultural Health and do a workshop about PPE for community health workers. In a nurse consulting role, I had the opportunity to work with Sister’s in Common, a behavioral health agency and do some wellness checks with individuals who had been exposed to COVID-19 to offer support during times of home isolation or quarantine.
In my role as a nurse educator in the College of Nursing I get to teach and demonstrate use PPE in the different settings they will be working in to break the cycle of infection transmission. I have had the opportunity to help distribute surgical mask and cloth mask to families in MMPNO that were multigenerational as a result of the work that occurs with Sister in Common. I have been involved in community work here in Seattle before my children were in preschool and they are adults now in their early 30’s. So, I think my story would take more time than I can summarize for this session, and I have still more work to do and more learning to do.
Who influenced you most in life, or is someone you consider a role model?
I have many role models, yet I would answer the question of who has influenced me most in life is my grandmother, (my father’s mother), and my oldest sister. Both of whom are deceased, yet I learned so much from watching them work, and they seem to be in the right place at the right time when I needed them. I am one of eight children that were in our family, raised in a small town in Mississippi. I am blessed that I felt I was well loved, protected, and cared for.
Is there any advice you would like to share with your students as they prepare for their careers in nursing?
I would continue to share with my students that they are entering a health care field where they are needed. I would ask that they hold on to the trust that some will build with the individuals and families that they work with in a variety of settings. Be the best at what they choose to study, provide the best care they can give in the specialty of their training. Show people that you care about them. Set their standards of care on the high bar, and their tolerance for poor health outcomes for marginalized communities low. I would repeat and wrap it up with they are needed.