Ensuring each patient receives compassionate, personalized care is core to Linda Dankwa’s mission as a nurse.

Whether it’s anticipating needs during her night shift or staying in touch with patients and their loved ones long after their stay at Keck Hospital of USC, Dankwa works hard to create a positive hospital experience for each patient.

“I’ve always had the belief that our patients are our primary focus,” she said. “The patient experience has always been part of who I am.”

Dankwa, a nurse at 7 South ICU, was selected as the nurse winner of the 2017 USC Choi Family Awards for Excellence in Patient-Centered Care. She has nearly 30 years of nursing experience, most of them at Keck Hospital. The prestigious awards honor exceptional physicians, nurses and staff who hold an unwavering commitment to compassionate patient care.

“Linda has distinguished herself as an exemplary charge nurse, a strong patient advocate and a great team player,” said Rod Hanners, COO, Keck Medicine of USC and CEO, Keck Medical Center of USC. “She is well regarded by the neurologists, her colleagues and most importantly, our patients and their families.”

Dankwa was nominated for the award by her physician and nurse colleagues. She serves as a mentor to other Keck Hospital nurses, is a member of the Keck Service Culture Ambassadors and believes small gestures of kindness and compassion can have a positive, lasting impact on patients. She encourages colleagues to celebrate patients’ birthdays with a card and a gift from the patient experience department.

She initially wanted to be a pharmacist, but chose nursing to be closer to front-line patient care.

“I wanted to have an impact on family members when life-and-death decisions need to made,” Dankwa said. “When anxiety is high and it’s stressful, it’s nice to have someone with you that you have confidence in and feel a connection with, someone that you think will help you pull through. I think I have that innate in me.”

Some of Dankwa’s inspiration for patient care has come from her own vacation visits to hotels around the globe. “When I visit a hotel, my service doesn’t get interrupted and my needs are met, no matter the time of day or night,” she said. “We should have the same concept.”

Dankwa, who earned an MBA while working as a nurse, said continuing her education to further her professional growth is a priority and that the challenges, demands and rewards of nursing have had a positive influence on her.

“Being a nurse profoundly influences all aspects of my life,” she said. “I don’t take anything for granted.”

— Douglas Morino