November 29, 2021

A true friend is not hard to find in James Shepherd

Meet the winner of Kaiser Permanente’s 2021 Friend of Nursing Award.

Respiratory therapist James Shepherd and assistant nurse manager Rebeca Haynes with Todd, a mannequin often used to help train nurses, patients, and families.

James Shepherd is always there when you need him. As a respiratory therapist at the Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center, he’s a true friend to nursing, according to the nurse leadership team that nominated him for the 2021 Friend of Nursing Award.

The award, part of the annual national nursing excellence awards run by Kaiser Permanente’s National Patient Care Services team, recognizes someone for achieving improved outcomes through partnership and collaboration with nursing.

In nominating Shepherd for the award, the nurse leadership team called him an inspiration who serves as an example of optimism, collaboration, and true vision inside and outside his professional life. He was integral to the adoption of an emergency department pilot project that assigned a dedicated respiratory therapist to every emergency department shift, resulting in improved patient care and nursing satisfaction scores. The dedicated respiratory therapists joined nurse huddles to educate and answer questions about patients on ventilators during the first COVID-19 surge.

Shepherd supports nursing during his private time also. He volunteered with the community organization Operation Gratitude during a COVID-19 surge to provide gifts to first responders, including more than 1,800 nurses and hospital staff across the country, as a supportive gesture and a morale boost.

We spoke with Shepherd about what drives him.

Where do you find your inspiration and energy?

My mother has been a huge inspiration throughout my life. She has always been very encouraging but at the same time had high expectations of all her children. She always encouraged us to do our best and emphasized the importance of being compassionate.

She also taught me to always treat everyone the same, no matter their color, no matter their status. She invited everyone in.

How have you maintained your resilience during the pandemic?

Right before pandemic, I lost my son to suicide at the age of 22. My mind was dealing with something else that was more weighing and more important. It put some things in perspective for me. Life is not a guarantee. What you need to do is lean on your beliefs, and it’s OK to lean on other people.

What type of self-care do you prioritize now?

I lean on my faith, and I pray. I talk to my family. I talk to my friends. I’m a strong believer that we need to discuss what’s going on. We can’t stay silent.

Watch Shepherd and all our 2021 nurse excellence award winners discuss nursing and their award recognition.