Dawn Day says being a leader doesn’t always mean directing others but rather requires working alongside people.
“As a leader in the field of nursing, my priority has always been to meet people where they are regardless of their circumstances,” says Day, a trauma specialist and sexual assault program coordinator for Mercy Springfield Communities.
“Leadership is about making those I lead the best they can be, empowering them to help others with excellence.”
That’s been Day’s mindset since she joined the Mercy emergency room team in 2010. She became the sexual assault program coordinator in 2016 and immediately began expanding the department. She recently took the position of trauma specialist, which involves ensuring trauma patients in the ER receive proper care.
In the past five years, Day has offered Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training to 51 nurses and has instituted around-the-clock coverage for assault victims.
“My job is to educate each SANE, but, more importantly, it is to empower them each with the confidence that they are indeed making a difference,” Day says.
Outside of her work in the ER, Day works to combat sex crimes in southwest Missouri as the chair of the Stand Against Trafficking education and resource coalition. She says the group focuses most of its efforts on individuals and agencies that have greater chances to interact with populations at high risk of being coerced into human trafficking.
In January 2020, Day helped organize a conference for specialized training called Developing a Community Response to Child Sex Trafficking and Exploitation. Attendees came from all over the country and included William Wolf, the director of human trafficking programs for the Department of Justice.
“As a direct result of this conference, a staff position within the Greene County Juvenile Division was created, and our community now benefits from having a high-risk victim services coordinator,” Day says. “This position created the High-Risk Victim Task Force, which focuses on at-risk youth within Greene County.”
During the pandemic, Day assisted in creating an additional leadership role within Stand Against Trafficking to focus on social media outreach.
She says her role as an ER nurse is the most important hat she wears. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she has worked extra shifts and extended hours. She still sees sexual assault and ER patients, in addition to critically ill COVID-19 patients.
“Many people throughout the past year have turned to me with questions and concerns related to COVID, and I have had the opportunity to share factual information that shaped their understanding of the pandemic,” Day says.
“I have been called a hero more in the past 18 months than ever before,” Day says.
“It is an honor.”
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