Student President Learns How to Make Change Happen

06/03/03    Portland, Ore.

Nursing school has made a leader out of Stacey LeFebvre. As student body president at OHSU School of Nursing in Portland, she has become an outspoken agent for change. LeFebvre will be among more than 850 graduates at OHSU's 2003 Commencement ceremony scheduled for Wednesday, June 4 at 8 p.m. at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland.

"I push to accomplish what needs to be done," she said. "Sometimes I push hard."

For example, when the school planned to move the student nurses' computer room from Marquam Hill to the Macadam area, LeFebvre e-mailed the student body asking for support to keep the room where it was. "Before you know it, administration decided to keep the computer room here," she said.

Her current mission is to incorporate cultural competency into the nursing curriculum nationwide. (Cultural competence is included on a master's level curriculum, but is not required at an undergraduate level. Some instructors incorporate it at their own discretion.) LeFebvre presented a resolution to that effect at a National Student Nurses Association conference in April and, after a lot of debate, the resolution passed. Her remarks will be published in the National Student Nurses Association policies and resolutions document and sent to nursing institutes across the nation.

As a Native American, LeFebvre has been involved in many multiculturalactivities and events. Cultural competency matters in health care, she said.

"I've had to explain the importance of a framework for cultural competence because it can be difficult to understand," she said. "But we see it every day in nursing. Everybody comes from a different cultural background, regardless of skin color. "It's not just about race or ethnicity. You have to be open to [patients'] backgrounds and thoughts so you can take care of them more effectively."

LeFebvre grew up in Eugene, Ore. Her mother was a certified nurse assistant, and LeFebvre remembers being impressed at how professional her mother looked in her white uniform.

"The image stuck with me," she said.

She applied for nursing school after high school, but decided to wait, having her two children (now 7 and 5) before going on to college.

"I think my head was on my shoulders more [because of waiting]," she said. "I wanted to be independent. I wanted a strong foothold in a career."

She took prerequisite classes at Portland Community College for two years, then enrolled at OHSU in 2001 to earn her bachelor of science degree in nursing. Divorced, she has part-time custody of her sons, so she balances schoolwork with mothering

Her favorite clinical experience has been in school nursing.

"You have to use your critical thinking," she said. "You have kids who come up so often you recognize them by the fourth week. You try to figure out why they're visiting you so often."

It was a job in which she felt she could really make a difference.

"It helps the kids in their learning process if they have a relationship with the school nurse," LeFebvre said. "They're healthier and able to attend classes. They'll stop and say 'hi' instead of 'I have a stomachache.'"

After a couple of years of nursing experience, LeFebvre hopes to attend graduate school to become a nurse practitioner. Her long-term dream: international nursing.