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2021 APNA Award for Excellence in Leadership – RN

Stephanie Verdeflor, MSN, RN, PMH-BC

Described by colleagues as a “beam of light even in the most difficult of situations, ” Stephanie Verdeflor, MSN, RN, PMH-BC pairs upbeat humor with clinical aptitude to successfully de-escalate patients during difficult situations.

“I truly believe in the the quote by Dr. Jean Watson that says ‘maybe this one moment, with this one person, is the very reason we’re here on Earth at this time’.

It’s the moments we actively create with each and every one of our patients, those few minutes you sit down to connect, that therapeutic relationship truly changes both the patient and ourselves,” says Stephanie, whose encouraging smile and genuine compassion help build trust and strong connections with her patients.

As a Nurse Clinician at New York-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center (WBHC), Stephanie splits her time working with patients in the Mature Adult unit, and serving as a Magnet Recognition Nurse, identifying WBHC Psychiatric-Mental Health nursing excellence, developing new initiatives to improve patient care, and launching innovative research.

While Stephanie admits that her heart will always be at the bedside, she also serves as a clinical adjunct instructor in the undergraduate nursing program at Molloy College. Here she still adds the human touch by urging students into PMH nursing, coaching future nurses to decrease the stigma associated with mental illness and teaching students to infuse emotional intelligence into every encounter.

An advocate for her peers and those she mentors, Stephanie also serves as a nurse preceptor. She consistently encourages professional growth and development among her colleagues via board certification, joining the hospital’s clinical ladder program and becoming more active in professional nursing organizations. Stephanie’s support has directly resulted in a significant increase in the number of ANCC Certified Nurses on her unit.

Janette O’Connor, one of her nominators, states, “It’s her wonderfully lighthearted approach and constant willingness to go above and beyond in every effort that make Stephanie the nurse everyone trusts and turns to. This was exemplified recently when WBHC changed a protocol related to the type of pajamas distributed to patients. Stephanie collaborated with the work group and volunteered to model the pajamas for staff to see.”

A positive outlook seems to motivate Stephanie and inspire those around her. “I find my roles rewarding because I have the best of both worlds,” says Stephanie. “As a PMH-RN, I am helping my patients and their families navigate through one of the most challenging times in their life. As an instructor, I hope to find the future of psychiatric nursing in my clinical groups, like my clinical instructor did for me.”