Brittany Dorton: Advocating for Fellow Nurses

It’s easy to point out the people who have truly found their calling. What they all have in common is an underlying and unwavering ideal that guides the way they live their lives. Brittany Dorton says that from a young age she felt called to help people, and it’s an ideal that guides her in everything she does.

What sets Dorton apart from other nurses is that she does not exclusively help the patients within her hospital. Ten years ago when she began her career as a student nurse at IU Health Ball Memorial, she quickly noticed the fatigue, stress and abuse that nurses endured on a daily basis. It seemed like “part of the package” for doctors and nurses to devote all of their energy to their patients’ needs and allow their own physical and emotional health to fall to the wayside. The nurses she worked with did not feel valued, did not take pride in their work and ultimately did not know how care for themselves like they cared for their patients.

This notion has persisted throughout her nursing career. To gain a better understanding, Dorton and a team of researchers conducted an IRB-approved quantitative and descriptive study titled “Predicting the Risk of Verbal Abuse Among Registered Nurses at a Teaching Hospital.” A total of 161 direct care nurses from Ball Memorial completed the survey. The results revealed that verbal abuse was indeed prevalent, with 80 percent of nurses confirming a personal past experience of verbal abuse and 89 percent witnessing a verbal abuse incident. The number one source of verbal abuse was from patients’ families, the second from physicians and the third from patients. Nurses also stated that verbal abuse had a negative effect on their morale, productivity and strongly correlated with nursing turnover.

These startling results inspired Dorton to implement a self-care advisory group at Ball Memorial as an adjunct to the Professional Nursing Council. The group teaches nurses the skills and knowledge to manage their own stress, articulate their needs and balance the demands of the job with their physical and emotional health and wellbeing. She is an advocate for her peers and a leader within the hospital.

Dorton also extends her service to families abroad. At least once a year she travels with Medical Missions Outreach to bring advanced medicines to underserved parts of the world. She has traveled to Tanzania, El Salvador, the Philippines, Peru and Haiti, just to name a few.

Brittany Dorton was recently named as a finalist for the Indianapolis Business Journal’s 2016 Health Care Heroes Awards in the Non-Physician category.  The awards recognize individuals and organizations in central Indiana that show excellence in health care each year.  Winners will be announced on Friday, March 4.