Associate Director, New York State Nurses Association, Economic and General Welfare Program
Adjunct Professor, Adelphi University
For Carol Lynn Esposito, the focus of her work in nursing has always been on educating and empowering the individual nurse, facilitating transformational leadership in nurses, and advocating for policy change within the healthcare system. As a young nurse at Long Island Jewish-Hillside Medical Center, she met a patient whose story changed her life. Ms. Esposito was impressed by the woman, a partner in a New York City law firm, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, and spent just three months in the hospital before her passing.
“She was such a spiritual and insightful woman,” remembers Ms. Esposito.” She told me, “I have no children, but I can live on through you. You need to become a lawyer and advocate for these women. If you do this, I can be assured that our meeting will have meaning.”
After a few more years in nursing, Ms. Esposito follower her patient’s advice, and enrolled in Brooklyn Law School. After fifteen years of experience in the arena of medical malpractice, she joined the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) as a labor representative. Here, her commitment to advocate for both the patient and the professional nurse soon set her apart, and she was promoted to associate director within two years. She supervises a team of representatives who work to meet the educational and collective bargaining needs of professional registered nurses throughout New York and New Jersey.
An ardent advocate and a devoted teacher, Ms. Esposito has developed and taught many courses, including such topics as the legal aspects of nursing, collective bargaining, policy and politics in nursing, ethics, and violence in the healthcare setting at both Hofstra University and her alma mater.
When and why did you first want to become a nurse?
I grew up in North Massapequa and I wanted to stay on Long Island for college. I visited Adelphi and fell in love with the campus, and was so impressed by Deans Justina Eisenhauer and Elaine Wittmann. At one time, I thought about becoming a doctor, before deciding on nursing. Originally, I was drawn to the prospect of always being employable, but soon I realized I had a passion for healthcare advocacy.
Do you have favorite memories of your time at Adelphi and your residencies?
Our instructors were wonderfully caring and challenging. The clinic rotations in particular prepared me for my first job, and I felt equipped to go out into the profession and make a difference. Today, Adelphi has become a family tradition; my daughter is a graduate of Adelphi University, and my son Jarrett is a student here.
What are some of the changes you have seen in nursing through the years?
Today’s students are unbelievably smart and capable. Women have so many more opportunities in all fields, including nursing. There are new careers in nursing informatics, legal nurse consulting, and nurse organizing, to name a few.
What advice would you give to today’s nursing students?
Be smart. Be an independent thinker and make your choices based on a full assessment of the risks and benefits. My mottos are “get ready for change, for this is the only constant in life” and “whatever it takes for as long as it takes.” You have to love nursing and love what you do. Today’s transformational leaders need to be willing to stand up for their beliefs, values, and ethical practices.