Trendle Samuel Selected as One of Alabama’s Top 10 Nurses

Trendle SamuelRegion II Perinatal Coordinator Trendle Samuel of the State Perinatal Program has been chosen from a field of more than 430 nominees as one of Alabama’s 10 Top Nurses. This recognition is presented by the social media site of, “This is Alabama” and BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama in cooperation with the Top Nurses Advisory Board and Alabama State Nurses Association which made the selections.

A registered nurse for the past 23 years, she loves her work and the opportunities it presents. “I get to advocate, to educate, to rehabilitate.” During the past five years she has navigated the learning curve to public health from her 18 years of experience as a clinical nurse at DCH Health System and Whatley Health Services.

Now she works behind the scenes in a way she describes as being like “hidden figures,” reviewing why patients become sick and how we can do things differently to prevent infant mortality and other bad health outcomes. In her position, she collaborates with agencies and organizations to try to understand mothers and families’ experiences and make recommendations come to life.

Review teams may make a broad analysis of the mother’s childhood and adulthood experiences to understand situations that lead to poor outcomes. For example, although there is a program available which provides cribs, there may be reasons a mother is not accessing this service, such as lack of space to place the crib or a stable residence.

“You have to be creative,” she said. “Information – correct and incorrect – is passed down from generation to generation, so we work to be transparent and give real-life examples. Prevention needs to start way before kindergarten, and everyone needs to be treated with respect along the way.”

Programs she champions encourage creativity, critical thinking, health, physical activity, social skills and interaction, and she has learned a lot about equity and health equity. Fellow community activists find her perspective to be eye opening--to see how things really are instead of just making assumptions about community needs in low-income communities. Two individuals with whom she worked closely on a community project nominated her for the Top Nurse recognition.

An example she found very rewarding occurred when she worked with public housing community residents to determine how to spend money from a grant. After speaking with the residents to determine their true needs and wishes, she learned that a children’s playground was the greatest need in the Crescent East Apartment Community. The previous playground had been destroyed, and there were no plans to rebuild. There were obstacles—the community straddled the city and county lines and there were rumors that the public housing community might be torn down. But she worked with others to help convince the housing authority to build a playground for neighborhood children, and with the grant, a new playground is now in the community.

A Montgomery native, the nursing career Mrs. Samuel chose was primarily inspired by the caring for others she witnessed through her own family. Although it was never really discussed with her, her great grandmother had been a “granny” midwife before the practice was criminalized. Another influence on her healthcare career path was born by watching The Cosby Show on television and seeing the positive family life portrayed on the screen by an African American father who was a successful obstetrician and his attorney wife.

After high school graduation, she entered college at the University of Alabama as a premed major, but after considering other options she became interested in pursuing nursing. After a couple of years as a student nursing assistant, she began her employment as a registered nurse. As a wife and parent of daughters, ages 8 and 15, she is now enrolled in an online M.P.H. program with a focus in Health Education and Promotion at the University of Alabama, which allows her to pursue the graduate degree without traveling from home.

A YouTube video introduces the 10 outstanding Alabama nurses. In the video excerpt, Mrs. Samuel's indelible memory of the April 27, 2011, tornado which took the lives of hundreds and injured thousands was highlighted. On that day, she was on duty at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa.

She recounted her experience as follows: “I was moving babies away from windows in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) when I heard that we were about to have surgery to deliver a baby in L&D. I was the manager of L&D at the time, so I got them settled in the NICU and ran back to the operating room (OR) to assist them with the delivery. We knew the tornado was headed our way, so we had to move quickly. I can remember someone asking to open the blinds so we could see outside, and I told them that we did not need that distraction. The baby was delivered as the tornado was passing the part of the building where the OR is located. After it was over, we looked outside and could see the path of the tornado, and it had barely missed the building. I like to say that God took His hand and scooted it over because we were ushering in a new life at that time.”

The day was a long one, and in the aftermath of the tragic storm other family members of patients began coming in to the hospital seeking treatment and refuge. The husband of a patient had an injured leg that needed to be stitched up, and she was able to find a family medicine obstetrician to treat him. A 6-year-old girl on the pediatrics unit whose eye had been injured by a tree branch was missing her mother. As the child grabbed her neck and clung to her body, Mrs. Samuel carried the girl some distance in the crowded and chaotic hospital to locate the child’s mother.

Reflecting on her recognition, Mrs. Samuel is excited and expressed her hopes for the future. She said, “All nurses are doing great things when they leave people healthier, but a lot of nurses have a hard time accepting recognition. I want to leave a legacy of caring and treating all people with dignity and respect. I hope that once I’m done with everything, all people aren’t just treated equally but equitably and as the human beings that we all are.”