#CTChildrensTurns20: Claire Hibbs-Cusson

In honor of our 20th year anniversary, Claire Hibbs-Cusson, BSN, RN, CCRN-K, WCC, Clinical Education Specialist of the Department of Education and Development at Connecticut Children’s, joins our blog to share her story in celebration of this incredible milestone!

hibbs cussonIn 1988, I was a newly graduated RN entering the PICU at Hartford Hospital and “CCMC” was just a twinkle in the eye of the Department of Pediatrics. Eight years later Connecticut Children’s Medical Center became a reality.

Looking back across my life pre-nursing, it never really seemed like I would end up in this field. My first career was in early childhood education. After marriage and the birth of my two children though my interest in healthcare was growing and I embraced my new personal challenge of going to Nursing School. As graduation neared I was accepted into a Nursing Critical Care Internship at Hartford Hospital and this is where my nursing career began and flourished.

It is difficult for me to imagine a more challenging or rewarding career. My 25+ years in Pediatric Intensive Care, first at Hartford Hospital, then at Connecticut Children’s, never failed to prove to me that this was my calling. My first experiences in PICU remain vivid memories as I began to realize the impact I could and would have on the lives of children, families and colleagues, regardless of outcome. Lifelong relationships were born both personal and professional. Strikingly, many of my most valued colleagues are still here in a variety of nursing roles.

It has been an amazing personal journey working in a number of different roles, as well as roles within those roles, first as a PICU Staff RN, preceptor of many nursing students and newly hired staff RNs, and later as the PICU Clinical Education Specialist. Here is where my two professional fields, education and nursing, were blended into my “dream job”.

My current role as an educator in Central Education and Development affords me countless opportunities to develop and deliver education and exemplars, the fruits of my years of experience. Nurses and other professionals who come to work at Connecticut Children’s are among my “students.” Within my current role, I have a number of opportunities to impact care at Connecticut Children’s, including developing and reviewing policies, my work as a Wound Care Certified RN, PALS Coordinator and Instructor and participation in several leadership activities.

The remarkable changes I have witnessed over the first 20 years of Connecticut Children’s existence are many. One of the most exciting of these has been watching Connecticut Children’s emerge from its infancy into an independent and free-standing pediatric institution, now highly respected and recognized across the state and across the nation. Changes in regulatory processes and quality driven initiatives have directly and positively impacted our delivery of highly reliable and safe patient care. Family Centered Care has become permanently ingrained within our culture. Physical growth has far outstretched our forecasted needs, but we continue to meet the needs of our community by branching out within Greater Hartford and beyond. Professional nursing has finally found its voice, the result of concerted effort and persistence in establishing our evidence-based environment of inquiry and focus on outcomes.

Today I share with so many employees throughout the institution a palpable pride and dedication to further the progress whose foundation lies in these first 20 years. I look forward to what lies ahead in this exciting and ever changing environment.

Finally, I will always cherish the marvelous privilege of sharing in the joys and heartaches of so very many children and families while collaborating with a long, long list of colleagues and friends to restore each child to optimal health or to assist families at their most difficult times. These colleagues, co-workers, patients and families have taught me and shaped me into the nurse, leader, role model and friend that I am today.

To all who remain at Connecticut Children’s and those who have gone on to other places, “Thank you and Happy Anniversary!” You all deserve our appreciation for making Connecticut Children’s the very best place for pediatric care.

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