Excellence in Nursing – Clinical Instructor/Educator: Linda Lakdawala

Advanced Clinical Education Specialist, Nursing Education and Research Department, UPMC Shadyside Hospital


Linda Lakdawala is known as the cheerleader of certification.

Lakdawala, whose role revolves around making sure new and seasoned nurses have the proper competencies so they can practice safely, is a huge proponent of promoting education to help health care professionals reach all their career goals.

“Education has always been my zest, my passion,” says Lakdawala, who is also an adjunct professor at the Community College of Allegheny County and South University.

She has served as secretary for the Pennsylvania Association of Perianesthesia Nurses, is a certified post anesthesia nurse and served as president of the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification, for which she traveled throughout the United States, Canada, Denmark and Australia promoting the value of nurses deepening their knowledge in the perianesthesia specialty.

“It brings really safer patient care and confident nurses,” she says.

Prior to assuming her current role, Lakdawala also aimed to improve patient safety by helping to implement systemwide screening for pre-operative patients with undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. When patients with the sleep disorder are exposed to anesthesia or sedation, they’re at risk for respiratory depression. When working as a recovery room nurse, she’d observe some patients waking up from anesthesia and having difficulty breathing. Suspecting more could be done to ensure a safer experience, she focused her master’s and doctorate degrees on care of the perioperative sleep apnea patient.

To prove the effectiveness of pre-op screening, Lakdawala conducted a trial showing how it could result in a post-operative patient going to a medical-surgery floor rather than the intensive care unit. She assembled a team of physicians, anesthesiologists and respiratory therapists and received a grant from the Shadyside Hospital Foundation. The team worked diligently for eight years to implement a protocol across the entire health system in 2018.

Now, every pre-op patient undergoes the STOP-Bang (Snoring, Tired, Observed, Pressure, Body Mass Index, Age, Neck Size and Gender) screening tool. The protocol includes monitoring and specific orders to ensure safe respiratory outcomes throughout the patient’s surgical experience.

Lakdawala, who has also done work to ensure best practices in other areas of patient care, gets goosebumps when she talks about sharing her passion with the future generation of nurses.

“I highly recommend nursing,” she says. “I wouldn’t have changed my career for a minute.”

Categories: Excellence in Nursing