April 24, 2024
Family Business

Photo: Tampa General Hospital

Wendi Goodson-Celerin is the senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Tampa General Hospital. She says her job satisfaction comes mainly from making sure her nursing teams "have the tools, the education, the training and the resources" to best service patients.

Economic Backbone: Nursing

Family Business

Art Levy | 11/30/2023

One of seven children, Wendi Goodson-Celerin grew up in Tampa, her mother a nurse and Goodson-Celerin showing signs early on that she’d eventually become a nurse, too.

Once, when Goodson-Celerin was no older than 9, her mother underwent cancer surgery and came home with the incision wrapped in bandages. At some point, the dressings had to be changed. None of Goodson-Celerin’s siblings could even look at the wound, but Goodson-Celerin was unfazed. She helped clean and pack the wound — and another nurse in the family was born.

In August, Goodson-Celerin was appointed senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Tampa General Hospital, a job that makes her responsible for all of TGH’s nursing services.

She first went to work at TGH 35 years ago, shortly after graduating from nursing school at the University of South Florida, and she’s been climbing the nursing hierarchy ever since. Starting out as a clinical nurse in 1988, her subsequent jobs at TGH have included: charge nurse; assistant nurse manager; clinical nurse manager; vice president of neuroscience, orthopedics and clinical education; director of women’s and children’s services and clinical education; and director of nursing education.

“Within the first month of my hire, I was being trained to be the charge nurse,” she says. “Those things kind of come natural for me. I enjoy caring for people, meeting them where they are. Hospitals can be a scary place for patients and I want to help relieve that anxiety, get them well, give them the best care they can get and get them back to their home.”

Although she still makes time to occasionally walk the floors and meet patients, Goodson-Celerin says her job satisfaction these days comes mainly from making sure her nursing teams “have the tools, the education, the training and the resources” to best service patients.

That includes giving nurses support and training in dealing with some post-pandemic realities she’s noticing, such as an increase in violence towards hospital staff from patients and families.

One pandemic-era issue that has shown some improvement, she says, is the nursing shortage. The hospital’s vacancy rate is about 22%. By late fall, Goodson-Celerin expects that the hospital’s traveling agency nurse workforce will be zero.

“That’s kind of unheard of right now,” she says.

Wendi Goodson-Celerin
Senior vice president and chief nursing officer, Tampa General Hospital

Education: BS in Nursing, MS in Nursing, Doctorate in Nursing Practice, all from the University of South Florida.

Inspiration: Her late mother: “My journey started with my mom. My mom was a registered nurse, and so I grew up in an environment where the neighbors, everybody, kind of would come to the house for her advice. She was always sought after. She was always helping people. It warms my heart because I know she would be so proud to see me in this position. It’s a lot of work, yes, but it’s rewarding because you're truly helping people and making a difference.”

Tags: Healthcare, Feature, Economic Backbone: Nursing

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