San Diego alumni connect and collaborate
Sandra Butterfield ’86 describes meeting Jessica Cheverie ’02, ’17 at the San Diego alumni event in February 2016 as something akin to “love at first sight.” The nursing graduates got along immediately and before the event was over, were planning to co-host the Shift Report webinar series. Since then, they have worked together on the quarterly webinar and volunteered around their home city — all while sharing a few good laughs.
Butterfield, a member of the Alumni Leadership Council, works in the psychiatric unit at Pomerado Hospital in San Diego. She is also an adjunct professor at Brightwood College and National University where she teaches psych-mental health nursing to students in the clinical setting. Though a lifelong nurse, she was not immediately interested in the field.
When she was young, Butterfield’s friend convinced her to volunteer at a hospital in their home Chicago area. “I volunteered in Central Supply and the Pharmacy because I did not want to be a nurse. Then several years in, I decided to volunteer in the patient care units,” she explains. By the end of their senior year in high school, the two young women had both changed their minds about nursing: “[My friend] said, ‘I am so glad I volunteered because I don’t want to be a nurse anymore,’ and I said, ‘I am glad I volunteered because I do!’”
Cheverie knew she wanted to be a nurse since she was 16 when she was hospitalized. Seeing the nurses in action first-hand inspired her to follow the same path. Cheverie grew up in Connecticut and in high school, she volunteered at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. After earning her nursing degree, for 12 years, she worked in a busy labor and delivery unit at Naval Medical Center San Diego where she was a neonatal resuscitation instructor, bereavement counselor and instructor, one of the leads in the operating room, and a charge nurse. Currently she is part of Scripps Health RN Prescription Refill Team in San Diego, and is working toward her master’s degree in nursing with a specialization in nursing informatics at Excelsior.
Both Butterfield and Cheverie agree that teamwork is essential in nursing, and it’s easy to see that their relationship is a prime example of teamwork done right. “When you have a good team, it works out,” says Cheverie, describing how important it is to collaborate and share knowledge with peers. “If you have a team that you can joke and laugh and work with, the time just whizzes by and you leave with laugh lines!” adds Butterfield. Since teaming up at the alumni event, it’s been one good thing after another.
Butterfield recalls discussing the Shift Report webinar series with Cheverie, saying, “I told her about this idea for a Shift Report and how I wanted to do it once a quarter, teach it webinar style for our Excelsior alumni and students…and right then and there, she volunteered and wanted to be a part of it!”
The Shift Report, presented by the Office of Alumni Affairs as part of the Alumni Speaker Series, explores issues that nurses and healthcare workers face in the workplace. So far, the pair has co-hosted webinars on topics including PTSD, dementia, and violence in the workplace, and more are in the works. Their August webinar on suicide and depression was postponed so that Butterfield could assist in disaster relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey. The two alumni run the Shift Report webinars from Cheverie’s kitchen, where they share knowledge and enjoy each other’s company. Describing Butterfield as “amazing,” Cheverie says, “She wears so many hats. I’ve learned so much from her.” She adds that working with Butterfield is always a learning experience and always filled with laughs. Butterfield also comments on their rapport. “It’s nice to bounce ideas off each other, she says, and adds, “We bounce
around ideas constantly and add and delete ideas…I learn so much from the people I do the webinars with and also from the audience…The vast knowledge and experience of our alumni and our students is very exciting!”
In addition to the Shift Report, Cheverie and Butterfield volunteer together at Third Avenue Charitable Organization, feeding the homeless and supplying them with toiletries, clothes, blankets, and other necessities. Assisting others in this way is not new to these alumni. During college, Cheverie volunteered her time as an EMT. Butterfield has visited countries to volunteer at medical clinics. “I always wanted to travel and use my nursing skills to help underserved populations around the world,” she says. In Mexico, she has assisted with surgeries on children with cleft lips and cleft palates.
In addition to their interests in serving the community, Butterfield and Cheverie share a passion for caring for their patients and a passion for teaching others. Cheverie says the most important thing she has taught people is to put themselves in their patient’s positions and to think about how they’d like to be treated. Butterfield believes in helping to create well-rounded, patient-oriented professionals, as well. She says, “I think the greatest thing we can do is teach others how to do what we are doing, and teach them well.”
The pair live close to each other and see each other several times a month, be it volunteering, co-hosting the Shift Report, or just grabbing lunch. “Because of Excelsior, I have met a wonderful person (personally and professionally),” says Butterfield of her Shift Report co-host. Cheverie says they’re having a lot of fun doing the webinars, but the future is wide open: “I don’t really know what’s going to be in store. We’re just kinda going with the flow.”