Patricia James left Guyana where she worked as a licensed practical nurse / midwife. Soon after her arrival to the United States, she found employment at New York City Health and Hospital. Through the Career Ladder Program at College of Staten Island she earned her Associate of Applied Science degree, subsequently earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
She cites her dad — a stickler for education, stressing the importance of reaching for the stars — as being the most influential person in her career that has now spanned more than 35 years.
Ms. James works at Kings County Hospital as a staff nurse. For the last 11 years, she has been in the maternal child department working with pregnant women, pre-natal care, recently delivered and complications.
“We are a breast-feeding hospital,” she explains of her concentrated efforts and joys working with young mothers to breast-feed their babies from birth to leaving the hospital. “We don’t force them, we teach them the benefits.”
She recognizes that with about a one-third success rate, “We have a long way to go.”
Additionally, after years of being a union delegate, Ms. James is the vice president of the local King’s County bargaining unit of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) at New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. She notes that NYSNA is the largest union — 37,000 — and professional organization for registered nurses.
Her trips to Albany include lobbying related to hospital closures, benefits and wages, and legislative issues.
“Our collective power gives us a real say in working conditions and patient care. Our biggest issue is staffing.” The union would like to see a patient-to-nurse ratio closer to the California model of five or four to one.”
Ms. James credits her former supervisor, Ms. Ena Benjamin who mentored her, as having had a great influence on her career.