Everyday Hero Roger Woods

Winner: AFT Nurses and Health Professionals division

Registered nurse, Danbury (Conn.) Hospital
Danbury Nurses' Union, Local 5047

Roger Wood, Everyday HeroRoger Woods may be an emergency room nurse, but he's also a natural-born teacher. Woods came to nursing as a second career after spending years as a painter. He has been a staff nurse at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut for 15 years. "Just like Harry Potter's wand found the wizard, nursing is the profession that found me," says Woods. "Every time I write RN behind my name, I flash back to the journey it took to get here and I realize what I am and who I am, and I can't help but smile."

Woods has a love of nursing, learning and sharing his newfound knowledge with others, and that's a good thing for his colleagues at Danbury. Two years ago, when the Ebola crisis hit in the U.S., Woods trained nurses at his hospital on how to safely use personal protective equipment to prevent them from contracting the virus or any other infectious disease. He was able to do that because he had decided to pursue first-responder training through the Federal Emergency Management Agency several years before. He also spent several weeks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention learning how to prepare and manage a crisis like Ebola.

A few years ago, Woods became a certified clinical hypnotist and uses his skills daily to calm anxious patients and family members. He's developed a course to teach nurses how to use these same techniques. Nurses are great communicators, says Woods, and if they can get patients to focus on something other than their pain and anxiety, they can enhance bedside care and aid in a faster recovery.

Woods has taught health professionals to reduce stress and use language to influence care and has also presented some of these techniques at churches and before civic groups to spread the word on how people can improve their health and well-being. As his nominator puts it: "Roger is exemplary in his willingness to help patients, colleagues and people in all walks of life."