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Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring

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Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring

Nursing leaders in Southern California share their thoughts

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This year, the theme of National Nurses Week is: “Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring.” As inspiring as that phrase may be, what does it really mean to the nurse on the floor, at a patient’s bedside or on the surgical unit, holding the hand of a scared, young child as he counts down the anesthesia? To find out, we asked nursing leaders at local hospitals to offer their own thoughts, recollections and patient stories. Here is what they said.

PHOTO ABOVE (left to right): Row 1: Jun Caluya, Mae Silvino, Linda Lillington; Row 2: Daniella Franco, Reiko Ota, Linda Howard, Brandy Van Zitter, Lynda Stoodley, Edwin Camello.

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Pat Britt, Nurses Week Article, Working Nurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caring for New Moms
The unit nurses pooled resources to buy baby clothes.

Pat Britt, RN, Director of Couplet Care, Nursing Supervision, Pediatrics, Transitional Care Unit
California Hospital Medical Center, Los Angeles, California

For more than 38 years, Pat Britt has been leading nurses, caring for patients and representing the values of the hospital: providing high-quality, affordable healthcare to the community. Pat takes pride in her team of nurses, who trust her to listen to their needs, support their work and guide them in providing superior patient care.  

The incredible work of Pat and her team goes far beyond business as usual — they also make a concerted effort to help those less fortunate. It is commonplace for Pat and the other nurses on the pediatric unit to reach into their own pockets to help a new mom with baby clothes or car seats or to offer their own lunches to families who need a helping hand. One example was a new mom who bought a full set of pink clothes for what she expected would be a daughter.  As it turned out, the newborn was a boy, surprising everyone. The unit nurses pooled their personal resources and provided clothing for the newborn, to the relief of the new mother. “Caring” is the term that best describes Pat Britt and her team.

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Stacey Ferrante, Nurses Week, Working NurseCaring for Women with Breast Cancer
“I make a difficult situation the most positive it can be.”

Stacey Ferrante, RN, MSN, OCN, Nurse Navigator, Breast Program,
The Center for Cancer Prevention  and Treatment, St. Joseph Hospital, Orange, California 

"The most rewarding part of being a nurse navigator at this hospital is guiding patients through their breast cancer journeys. I love having the chance to make a difficult situation for patients and their families the most positive that it can be, whether by answering a question that is worrying them or inviting another patient who has already been in their shoes to speak with them and help alleviate their fears. As a master’s-prepared nurse, I am able to use the information that I learned in my coursework to develop programs for women with breast cancer. These programs help women to understand their diagnosis and the treatment options available to them, so that they can make an educated decision about their care."

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Lisa Scharf, Nurses Week, Working Nurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caring for Patients All Over the World
“My nursing career has taken me to 27 countries serving on medical teams in underprivileged areas.”

Lisa Scharf, RN, BSN, CPAN
St. Jude Medical Center, Fullerton, California 

"For me, caring is the essence of nursing. The most rewarding part of being a nurse is knowing at the end of each day that I did a quality job of caring for my patients. I have found that kindness and gentleness (combined with skill) goes a long way in helping and healing patients who feel vulnerable and dependent. I love being a nurse because there is so much variety in the kind of nursing I can do. Over the past 15 years, I have worked in hospice, public health, home health, in the ER, ICU, CCU and GI lab. I am now enjoying working in the recovery room. 

My nursing career has also allowed me to travel to 27 different countries, mostly to underprivileged areas. I served on medical teams helping those who wouldn't otherwise have healthcare.  Some of my best memories are from the three years I lived on a floating hospital ship, working with an organization called Mercy Ships International. 

Working at St. Jude Medical Center has enabled me to continue pursuing my passion of caring for patients and helping the community. My personal values and the values we live by at St. Jude are completely aligned, which makes my job  — providing healing and hope to my patients, regardless of their situation — much easier. Knowing that I make a difference in my patients’ lives and that I helped their families through a difficult time, brings deep satisfaction at the end of long days."

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Bonnie Philips, Nurses Week, Working Nurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advocating for Cancer Awareness
She loves having her former patients drop by to share their progress.

Bonnie Philips, RN, Chemotherapy
St. Mary Medical Center, Apple Valley, California 

As a chemotherapy nurse, Bonnie Phillips has many difficult days that leave her overwhelmed by the pain she sees around her, wondering if her work is making a difference. She has found that the best way to to recharge her emotional batteries and rebuild her connection with her patients and their families is spending time with cancer survivors and fighting to raise awareness about the disease. She calls it the greatest gift she has given herself.

Three years ago, to support her patients and her sister-in-law, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, Bonnie challenged herself to enter the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, walking 60 miles in three days to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. “It teaches you a lot about the human spirit, what you’re capable of,” Bonnie said. “To be with the survivors and their families fills me up for the whole year.”

After returning from the walk and sharing with her fellow nurses, one of Bonnie’s co-workers, Brenda Stahlman, encouraged her to take up running. Bonnie was hesitant, but decided that if she could walk 60 miles, she could run 13. They trained together and started signing up for 5k and 10k charitable runs; Bonnie completed her first half marathon in January. She is registered to run two more half marathons this year, and now three other nurses are joining them. As more of her family members have been struck with various cancers, Bonnie has also extended her energies to organizing and leading a team for the Victorville Relay for Life.

Bonnie says she can’t fully describe the blessing she receives by participating in these events and hearing from family members and cancer survivors. In many cases, Bonnie doesn’t have the opportunity to keep in touch with patients after discharge; however, meeting other survivors and loved ones at these events reenergizes her in caring for her current patients.”It changes the way you go back and fight the next time,” Bonnie says. “You’re a dynamite little package when you come to back to the job.”

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Mary Kay Bader, Nurses Week, Working Nurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading in Brain Injury Technology
“I was able to connect with experts all over the world to bring their expertise to our hospital.” 

Mary Kay Bader, RN, MSN, CCNS, FAHA, Neuro/Critical Care CNS
Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo, California 

When I came to Mission Hospital in 1997, my challenge was to help our team integrate new evidence-based guidelines for managing severe traumatic brain injury.  The recommendations for the care of those critical patients included the use of new technologies for measuring pressure and oxygen in the brain. To integrate these guidelines, we needed to acquire, learn and use those technologies, which is exactly what we did.

We have since achieved great success with brain injury management; we received the Ernest A. Codman award from the Joint Commission in 2000. As a team, we are constantly evolving and welcoming new technology in our practice. 

A recent example is the use of therapeutic hypothermia in post-cardiac arrest and critical neurologic patients. When the American Heart Association recommended hypothermia after cardiac arrest (HACA) back in 2005, our team of physicians and nurses met to develop a protocol. The intervention required new technology for targeted temperature management.

We were able to transition a machine we had been using for normothermia to new patient protocol, but we realized that one was not going to be adequate, so we worked to acquire more. We then introduced therapeutic hypothermia into the critical neuro population, which required a new protocol different from HACA.

As the CNS, I was able to connect with national and international experts in hypothermia and bring their expertise to Mission Hospital. Working with the physicians and nurses in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, we integrated the protocol with order sets specific to the complex neuro population. The SICU nurses went through an intensive training to master this high risk, complex protocol. I am extremely proud of the great work we have been able to accomplish with this treatment.  

For all the new technology, one thing remains critically important in my daily work: the ability to truly care for patients and their families at a vulnerable, critical time in their life. As a nurse, I am part of a collaborative team that strives to optimize the outcomes of the people we serve. Being a part of that brings me great joy and satisfaction. It is about giving it all: caring practices that incorporate knowledge, skills, compassion, and determination, every time, every day!

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Cathy Ward, Nurses Week, Working NurseRewarding Nurses Who Advocate
Nominees consistently and passionately pursue all avenues to get patients what they need.

Cathy Rodgers Ward, RN, DNSc, NEA-BC, Director of Nursing
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

For the past 10 years, UCLA Health System has given its Nursing Advocacy Award to high-performing nurses who are strong patient advocates. The award highlights the patient advocacy work nurses do every day and promotes advocacy as a component of professional nursing practice.

The award is given to clinical nurses who exemplify persistent advocacy for patients, for the improvement of unit functionality or staff satisfaction. Nominees consistently and passionately pursue all avenues to get patients what they need or to make necessary changes for the unit or the staff. Nominees may include nurses who follow the chain of command appropriately in a clinical situation, take on difficult unit problems and solve them over time in a persistent and diligent manner, or those who continue to raise issues that need to be addressed because it is the right thing to do. 

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Linda Lillington, Nurses Week, Working Nurse 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Through Research
“Nurses at the bedside have a wealth of knowledge to share.”

Linda Lillington, DNSc, RN, Nurse Researcher, Clinical Education
Torrance Memorial Medical Center

A group of nurses from the progressive care and cardiac care units at our hospital identified an issue related to a lack of standardized practice in sternal wound care in post-op cardiac surgery patients. To address that concern, the nurses convened a working subcommittee with help of the cardiothoracic surgery nurse practitioner, who served as a mentor and provided leadership. Following the evidence-based practice process, the subcommittee searched the literature to find the best practice, compared their current practice with what was recommended in the literature, identified specific recommendations for change, developed an action plan for implementation, tested the practice change and evaluated the outcome.

The group provided staff education, using a unit champion model to implement the new practice. They also incorporated one-on-one mentoring and daily monitoring to facilitate adoption. It was rewarding for the nurses to see that their efforts contributed to a reduction in post-op sternal wound infection rates.

The group’s enthusiasm for nursing research culminated in the publication of their project in the January 2012 issue of Critical Care Nursing Quarterly. The nurses proudly display the publication on their units and discuss the findings with their nurse colleagues and physicians.

It was very rewarding for me to be able to nurture the staff nurses’ motivation and interest in making changes in practice that can impact one patient at a time, one day at a time. Nurses at the bedside have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share. With guidance, support and implementation of the nursing research process, there is no limit to what they can do to advance nursing practice and improve patient outcomes.

IN PHOTO (left to right): Row 1: Jun Caluya, Mae Silvino, Linda Lillington; Row 2: Daniella Franco, Reiko Ota, Linda Howard, Brandy Van Zitter, Lynda Stoodley, Edwin Camello.

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Barb Mayer, Nurses Week, Working Nurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Nursing Teams
They set high goals and exceeded them.

Barbara Mayer, MS, PhD(c), CNS, RN-BC, Director of Professional Nursing Practice
St. Vincent Medical Center, Los Angeles

In August of 2010, St. Vincent Medical Center (SVMC) in Los Angeles joined in the systemwide initiative of the Daughters of Charity Health System, launching a point-of-care improvement process called the Clinical Advancement in Education and Research (CARE) program.  

Barbara Mayer led a group of 25 bedside nurses through an 18-month training program. Their goal was to reduce sepsis-related mortality by at least 25 percent.

The nurses were drawn from critical care, emergency, telemetry and med/surg units and divided into teams.     Educational sessions gave each team the knowledge and skills to identify patients at risk for severe sepsis and implement the recommended sepsis bundle. The teams of nurses met twice a month to share their experiences and outcomes. Mayer and her co-team leader, Susan Connor, RN, facilitated meetings and provided coaching and consultation for the trainees.

One of the program's early successes was the adoption of a universal screening tool. CARE teams developed the evidence-based tool, provided extensive staff education and monitored its use through concurrent chart review. Team member diligence and the simplicity of the tool led to widespread acceptance; screening compliance remains at 97 percent across the organization. 

The skills acquired and tools developed by the unit-based CARE teams have enabled SVMC to surpass the original goal, achieving a 32 percent reduction in sepsis-related mortality. These newly empowered nurses will now share the skills and knowledge they acquired through the CARE program as they and their colleagues take on new process improvement projects.

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Glenda Cox, Nurses Week, Working NurseLeading Nurses to Reach Their Highest Potential
Programs to improve nursing satisfaction positively affect patient care.

Glenda Cox, RN, BSN, MHA, MSN(C), Chief Nursing Officer/Vice President of Patient Care Services
Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, Thousand Oaks

in her role as chief nursing officer (CNO), Glenda Cox nurtures, encourages and guides her nurses in their most important role: caring for patients in their times of greatest need.

Glenda has focused on developing her nurses and helping them do their best work. By instituting programs to reduce turnover, improve staff education and competency development, and improve nursing satisfaction, Glenda continues to positively affect the way her nurses feel about themselves, the amazing profession of nursing and the importance of providing exceptional nursing care.

Her latest project at Los Robles, set to roll out during Nurses’ Week, is a complete reorganization of the hospital’s nursing clinical ladder. The new clinical ladder will emphasize evidence-based activities to enhance the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for nurses to advance to higher levels of clinical practice, while enabling patients to continue receiving the high-quality nursing care.

“I knew from the time I was a nursing assistant that one day I wanted to be a CNO,” she says. The most important part of being a nursing leader is the ability to encourage others to reach their highest potential.

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Jeri Ward, Nurses Week, Working NurseAdvocating for Community Engagement
You know Jeri is involved in Operation Walk because it is so well organized. 

Jeri Ward, RN, Director of Orthopedic Service Line
Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles

As a healthcare professional, Jeri Ward exemplifies Florence Nightingale. Not only does she handle administrative duties for the orthopedic service line at Good Samaritan Hospital, she also teaches “Joint Camp” classes to patients preparing them for joint replacement surgery. In the class, she walks patients through the procedure, helping to manage their expectations prior to surgery. Jeri also does community outreach, organizing orthopedic lectures anywhere from the South Bay to Bakersfield.

In addition to her role as a nursing director, Jeri donates her time to the nonprofit organization Operation Walk. The goal of the organization is to provide free surgical treatment, such as hip or knee replacements, to patients suffering from arthritis and other debilitating bone and joint conditions who have no other access to care. Jeri handles all logistics, from gathering supplies and getting implant donations to transporting and staffing physicians and nurses and identifying patients — everything! When you see Operation Walk in action, you can bet that Jeri had a hand in it because it is so well organized.

Jeri runs “OpWalk” with military precision, yet her real passion is helping humanity. Perhaps her toughest role is deciding which patients will receive the needed surgeries, a decision based on each patient’s medical condition, orthopedic need and the availability of donated implants. It breaks her heart to turn people away.

Operation Walk was founded in 1995 by Lawrence Dorr, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital, and helps needy patients in countries such as China, Cambodia, Cuba, Nepal, Nicaragua, Panama, the Philippines — and most of all, the United States. To date, the organization has provided approximately 2,500 hip and knee replacements worldwide. With Jeri’s guidance and management skills, Operation Walk is now nationwide, with teams in other cities carrying on the good work.

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Abbie Stickley, Nurses Week, Working Nurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caring to Go the Extra Mile
“We’re not caring for a chart or a room number, but for someone’s mother or only child or best friend.”

Abbie Stickley, RN, BCRN, Nurse Manager, ICU
White Memorial Medical Center, Los Angeles

I tell my staff that the reason we work so hard is that we’re caring for someone’s mother or only child or best friend — not just a patient chart or a room number.

At the beginning of my nursing career, I had an experience with a young man who was admitted to our ICU after collapsing in his hotel room. He and his family had come from Florida to visit Disneyland. 

We were working him up for viral meningitis and trying to maintain his blood pressure, but things did not look good. His father was very stoic and didn’t say much — I found out later that he had been a Navy SEAL — but when it became clear his son was not going to make it, this proud man started to cry. “I’ve never shed a tear for anyone,” he said, “but this is my only child. Please make him as comfortable as possible. All we wanted was to take him to Disneyland.”

I went home that night and told my kids what had happened. We gathered up all the hats, toys and souvenirs they had collected from their visits to Disneyland to take to my patient’s room. If he couldn’t go to Disneyland, then the park would come to him! I arrived at work and spread the mementos around the room, which provided joy and comfort to the patient’s family.

After the young man passed away, his dad told me,  “I’m devastated about the loss, but glad that it happened here in your hospital. You treated us like we belonged here, not just visitors.”

As nurses, we have our evidence-based practice and our technology, but everything we do is about making compassionate connections. We can never forget the human component.

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Elizabeth Rankin, Nurses Week, Working Nurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caring for Teenagers
“Something didn’t feel right.”

Elizabeth Rankin, RN, Nurse Manager, Pediatric Hematology & Oncology, Adolescent Acute care
Loma Linda University Medical Center

Nurses spend more time at patients’ bedside than any other member of the healthcare team. Nurses advocate for their patients, often without thinking about it, because caring is a natural instinct to most people who choose this profession. 

I have worked with pediatric patients, including teenagers, for most of my career. Teenagers bring unique challenges. They still go to bed late and get up early, just like they would if they were at home. Oftentimes, when a teenage patient is having chronic pain, their tolerance for pain is higher and it takes higher doses of medication to bring relief. 

I remember a situation where a teenage girl was admitted for increased pain. Her pain was under control for the first few days of admission, but after three days, the medical team decided it was time to start lowering the dose of her IV medication and switch her to oral analgesic.
She was tolerating the change well, until the next morning. Normally, she would sleep until 10:00 a.m., but when I arrived in her room at 7:00 a.m. she was awake and watching TV. I started my morning assessment and talked to her about her night. She stated she did not sleep well. I asked how her pain was, and she explained that it was more than the day before, but said she was okay. I asked the doctor to come in and assess her pain; I felt the patient was suffering more than she was admitting. The doctor came to her room, and she told him the pain was under control. 

After completing my assessments on all my patients, I returned to her room. Something about the situation didn’t feel right. I sat with her for a while, talking about school, friends and clothes — anything she wanted to talk about. I asked her again how much pain she was having, and she started to cry. She explained to me that her school dance was coming up that weekend, and she didn’t want to miss it. She was worried that if she admitted the truth, the doctors would not let her go home. We talked about a few options to relieve her pain and still let her make it to the dance. It turned out that increasing her dose of oral medication worked well, and she was discharged in time for the dance.

As nurses, we listen not only with our ears, but our eyes and our hearts. Taking an extra few minutes with each patient can make a big difference to them. This scenario is played out in every hospital, by many nurses, with many different types of patients. The nursing profession is built on critical thinking, knowledge of disease processes, medication and treatments, but the most rewarding part is being able to advocate and care for our patients.

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Shelly Necke, Nurses Week, Working Nurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Through Education
“Nurses must invest in lifelong learning.”

Shelly Necke, RN, BSN Clinical Director, Transitional Care Unit, Acute Rehabilitative Center
Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (PIH), Whittier

Numbering more than two million, nurses comprise the largest body of healthcare professionals in America. Nearly every patient is likely to receive care from a nurse, giving them a pivotal role in driving the safety and quality of the patient’s experience.

It is imperative for nurses to invest in higher education to continuously increase competency levels. At PIH, lifelong learning is encouraged. This includes achieving higher levels of education, joining organizations at the state and local levels, and actively engaging in the advancement of the profession.

Major healthcare reform is on the horizon, which is likely to make the industry much more complex. In order to strengthen the profession of nursing and impact the delivery of healthcare, nurses must see themselves as full partners with physicians and leaders of the multidisciplinary team. 

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Erik Zurko

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advocating For Nurses to Take Credit for Their Work
Nurses should find their niche wherever they feel most empowered and enthusiastic. 

Erik Zurko, RN, BSN, CCRN, PHN, Charge Nurse CVICU
Children’s Hospital Orange County (CHOC)

Erik Zurko advocates for nurses to take more credit for the exceptional work they do. He is constantly impressed by the nurses on his floor at CHOC who care for newborns and school-age children recovering from open heart surgery. Erik often watches his fellow nurses skillfully and gently coax a young patient to walk, overcoming the natural fear and resistance of a child who may still be covered with chest tubes, pacer wires and IVs. Effectively caring for critical care children is a real accomplishment. However, Erik says that when a family offers praise, nurses often downplay their own role, crediting the doctor or saying, “Any nurse would have done the same.”

Erik believes that while physicians take a snapshot of a patient each time they come in, it is nurses who move the patient along the continuum of care. He says nurses are born leaders with well-honed psychosocial and parenting skills to complement their clinical expertise, and he wishes they would not discount the importance of what they do. Erik's advice:

    1. It’s okay to accept a compliment — just say thank you.
    2. It’s okay to get excited about what you’ve accomplished and to let others know
       what you’ve done.
    3. Just because doing a specific task is comfortable or easy for you doesn’t mean it’s
       not a big deal.

Finally, he advises other nurses to find their niche wherever they feel most empowered and enthusiastic. When that happens, he says, nurses will have an “intrinsic drive to move themselves, their patients and the profession forward.”
 
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Lee Passow, Nurses Week, Working Nurse 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Through Shared Governance
“The young nurse formed a professional practice council after hearing about shared governance in a staff meeting.” 

Lee Passow, RN, PHN, MSN, ICU/DOU/Education Director
Anaheim Regional Medical Center 

Our bedside nurses are strongly committed to a shared governance model of leadership. Nurses are the largest body of healthcare professionals in our hospital, and we play a major role in advocating for best practices in care. Bedside nurses lead councils, unit-based teams and performance improvement projects to develop practice improvements that benefit patient outcomes.

Other disciplines in our organization are also invited to share in educational sessions that promote quality care for patients. In January 2012, we received the Pathway to Excellence designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center for creating a positive practice environment.

Jessica Estep, a recent graduate in our telemetry unit, formed a professional practice council (PPC) after hearing about shared governance in a staff meeting. Through her leadership, she was able to provide opportunities and guidance for other nurses who never thought they could play such an active role in defining our standards of care. She went on to win a national award for her advocacy for patients, her kindness and caring approach toward families, and her persistent but humble leadership style: qualities shared by many in our profession.

Nurses come to work every day wanting to help and care for others. When we go home, there is great satisfaction in knowing we have made a difference for the patients we care for and the hospital in which we work. I tell my nurses, “Think about a great dream you want to see, then perform, teach and guide others to make your dream come true. Don’t focus too much on the stumbling blocks that occur along the way — hold true to the dream.”

IN PHOTO (left to right): Tess Santos, Beth Henshaw, Jessica Estep, Evelyn Pratummas, Lee Passow, Cari Long.

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Cindy Baradar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caring for the Whole Patient
“I also serve as a teacher for my patients’ overall health and wellness.”

Cindy Baradar, BSN, MHA, FNP-C, Nurse Practitioner
St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group,Orange County

As a family nurse practitioner, I have the opportunity to provide a wide range of healthcare to an even wider variety of patients. From teenagers to seniors, we care for and treat diseases and conditions from ear infections and diabetes, to osteoporosis and hypertension on a daily basis, which is unique to a family practice environment.

By far the most rewarding part of my job is being able to build special relationships with each one of my patients — from those I have just met, to the people I have had the pleasure of treating for eight or nine years. My patients are able to get to know and trust me on a personal level. I’m not only able to assist and guide them through diagnosis and treatment, but also serve as a teacher for their overall health and wellness.

Each time I get a hug or thank-you note from one of my patients, I know I’ve done a great job in making their dignity and care my priority – and those moments are what I look forward to the most.

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Shirley Johnson, Nurses Week, Working Nurse 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Through Research
The nurses understand that cancer research is constantly evolving. 

Shirley Johnson, RN, MSN, MBA, Chief Nursing and Patient Services Officer
City of Hope National Medical Center (COH), Duarte, CA

At city of hope, one of only seven National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in California, nurses are expected to drive innovation in cancer care delivery. They do this through a dedication to evidence-based practice: finding the most widely recognized, rigorously tested approaches to caring for patients and their families. By reviewing the latest literature, research studies and clinical trials, the nurses are
constantly striving to improve the accepted standard of care.

The systems in place at COH are designed to support a culture of dynamic learning. Courses in evidence-based practice are taught by nurses who serve as mentors, and by professional practice leaders, master’s-prepared nurses who provide theory and adult education. A clinical practice council meets twice a month to review changes in policies and procedures before they are implemented. Chief Nursing and Patient Services Officer Shirley Johnson explains, “Half our nurses are baccalaureate-prepared, so they have a fundamental understanding of research methodology and statistics.”   

When asked how nurses adapt to a constantly changing environment, Shirley admits that it is sometimes challenging, because people get comfortable in their routines. However, she says, “The nurses at City of Hope all have the mindset that cancer research is constantly evolving.” 

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Pattie Soltero, Nurses Week, Working NurseNurses: Leading, Advocating, Caring
“The nurses also care for the patient’s family as they grieve the loss of their ‘normal’ child.”

Pattie Soltero, RN, BSN, MAOM, Operations Manager, Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA)

The nursing staff in the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are nurses who advocate, lead and care. In July 2011, the division transitioned from being a blended unit, hosting the general surgical population and rehabilitation patients, to solely caring for acute rehab patients. With more focus available for the now well-defined population, the nursing staff concentrated on the specialty of rehabilitation nursing in many ways.

Several joined the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses, studying and taking courses to receive national certification in rehab nursing. The staff also attended national conferences and presented posters on nursing innovations that were
initiated by the rehab unit. The staff have even sought out new rehab-specific equipment that would aid this unique patient population and provided input and feedback to determine its appropriateness for rehabilitation and, more importantly, for pediatrics.

The rehab nurses at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles have certainly shown their abilities to lead and advocate, but it goes without saying that they care in a big way. Ask any one of them to show you the numerous thank you cards, pictures, graduation announcements, wedding announcements and even birth announcements that they have received from grateful patients and families. Their caring means not only treating the patient after a life-changing and debilitating event, but caring for the parents and families grieving the loss of their “normal” child. Parents have to endure many changes and through it all, the rehabilitation nursing staff are there to console, listen, support and care.

Thank you, rehabilitation nurses, for everything you do! You do make a difference.  

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Working Nurse wishes to thank all the wonderful nursing leaders who participated in this article.

This article is from workingnurse.com