Linda Dankwa is an award-winning critical care nurse at Keck Medicine of USC who has more than three decades of health care experience.
Here’s what you won’t find on her resume:
Her career choice was inspired by family — and soaps.
“My three choices after high school were pharmacist, engineer and nurse. I admired my family members in the profession. I also loved watching ‘General Hospital,’ the soap opera. The action-packed scenes were fascinating. How ironic is it that I did some of my training at LAC+USC Medical Center, which is the building in the opening scene for ‘General Hospital’?”
She uses a little inspiration from Broadway in her work.
“When I come to work, I envision myself as a Broadway actor who must perform several shows night after night. The difference is that my performance has life-and-death consequences, so this is not a rehearsal. My goal with every patient and family encounter is to leave them feeling better and with the notion of personalized care. I continuously look for ways that I can enhance the patient and family experience.”
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Compassion is a must-have tool in her nurse’s toolbox.
“The work we do must have sympathy at its core. The privilege we have when patients entrust their lives to us is significant, and we need to understand that everyone deserves our genuine sense of caring during our interactions. There is real value in kindheartedness.”
Her colleagues are like family.
“Taking care of patients is a team effort and takes the ‘village’ approach. We are all in this together. I enjoy the team that I have been fortunate to work with, some for as long as 25 years. I depend on them as much as they do on me. Just like families, we may have our differences, but the most important thing is that we put that aside and make the patient our primary focus.”
She continues to hone her nursing skills — even on vacation.
“I love to travel and spend time in luxurious hotels. I enjoy studying hospitality trends every opportunity I get. I am obsessed with hotels and the airline industry’s customer and safety standards. The reason for this affection is that knowing what customer service entails allows me to provide the same for our patients and their families. I compare being a patient to a passenger in a plane where safety by the crew means everything.”
If she traded life in scrubs for life in a cartoon, she’d be …
“Bugs Bunny, of course! He has stood the test of time. He remains in the game, is relevant, frivolous and sassy. He is always poised, even when chaos is unavoidable. In times of stress, I always make sure my lipstick is on, and I remain focused. I also like to say, ‘What’s up, Doc?’”
Keck Medicine of USC is her home.
“I chose to work here, and it is one of the best decisions in my life. I appreciate the fact that what I think and say matters, and when an idea is pitched, it is welcomed. I know that as employees, we invariably ask: ‘What is in it for me?’ Personally, I ask what I can do to contribute to the organization.”
She feels nursing is its own reward.
“I am fortunate and blessed to be a nurse. I absolutely cannot imagine my life any other way. It is official that I have been a nurse more than half of my life. Not many people can claim that. I enjoy what I do, and I take it very seriously. After all, I am dealing with people’s lives. What a privilege that is.”
In 2017, Linda was given the Choi Award by Keck Medical Center of USC and the Global Person-Centered Care Innovation Award by the Planetree organization. She continues to thank her patients and family (and the cast of “General Hospital”) for their inspiration.