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AdventHealth Orlando Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Britney Benitez is creating a safe space for nurses to share their fears, ideas and concerns. Through informal sessions called the New Nurse Coffee Chat, Benitez is helping to create a place where first-year nurses can be heard and receive support at the crucial beginning of their careers.
Benitez knows the importance of those early days. After all, her time as a fresh nursing school graduate at AdventHealth University (AHU) wasn’t long ago.
“I come from a family of nurses and was born into caregiving,” said Benitez, whose father, grandmother and great-grandmother were nurses. “My grandmother was a director in a long-term care facility. It was incredible for me to watch her with patients. She was genuinely excited to take care of other people.”
Benitez has spent several years working as an intensive care unit nurse. Because of her passion for helping people, Benitez, who is 37 years old and a mother of four, soon found herself drawn to nursing leadership roles. “I like to see people thrive,” she said.
Benitez’s role may have changed but her mission has not. She is still helping people, with the direct recipients of her patience, compassion and talent being fellow nurses.
A pragmatic problem solver and a compassionate listener, Benitez’s leadership is welcomed and needed. “We need leaders who can support, lead and guide. It’s about mentoring and developing,” she said. “I’m really excited about sitting down and breaking down barriers. I want to build new nurses into confident caregivers and empower younger nurses to become the best professional versions of themselves.”
Benitez keeps her hand in patient care by making rounds on the floors and talking with patients. “I love the clinical aspect,” she said. “I can keep that connection, and I can keep that purpose of why I became a nurse.”
The pandemic pushed health care leaders to reimagine nursing and caregiving, Benitez said. “We have to look at health care differently. The pandemic taught us to be more agile. It also brought to light the need for innovations like telehealth and home health. Now, we need to utilize that spirit of innovation as we move forward in taking care of patients and their families.”
A patient care tech during high school in Orlando, Benitez found her way to AHU’s nursing program and felt immediately comfortable.
“I fell in love with our mission and culture,” said Benitez, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2013. “The philosophy of wholistic care met my personal goals and values.”
AHU helped her thrive in other ways as well. “I loved that many of my classmates were working alongside me or were with the organization. I was surrounded by people, both professionally and academically, who were invested in both my education and my career.”