ICU Nursing Supervisor: Interview with Lyrose Ortiz, RN, BSN
Helping critical care nurses reach their full potential
Please tell us about the arc of your nursing career.
I received my BSN in 1995. It was my passion. My ultimate goal was to be a heart nurse. I worked medical-surgical telemetry and then worked my way up to ICU. After a great deal of education and training, I reached my goal and had the amazing opportunity to take care of open heart patients intraoperatively.
When I was appointed as a relief ICU charge nurse, I began to consider climbing the clinical ladder. So, when Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) first opened in 2015, I took a leap of faith and applied for an ICU clinical supervisor position, which they offered me. Working here has been a wonderful experience. Employees from administration to environmental services treat everyone like family.
We’re a true team that works together to build a hospital that serves a less-fortunate patient population. When I report to work, I know that I’m truly home.
What attracted you to working in the ICU?
When I observed the assertiveness and skill of highly experienced ICU/CCU nurses, I knew I wanted to be one of them. It takes a great deal of skill, personal discipline and compassion to serve as a critical care nurse, and I think my personality simply fit the profile. Our hospital opened in 2015, which means that everything is pretty new and we’re still in the process of building our team. When I came here, I brought years of nursing experience and training that I’ve been able to utilize to build and develop a strong ICU night shift team. I’m pleased to see us working together and helping each other throughout our shifts. It feels rewarding to see us all grow and thrive.
As a clinical nurse supervisor of the ICU, what are your responsibilities?
My main job is to make sure that the unit is running smoothly. I help plan, coordinate and evaluate unit activities and ensure that we have the resources to carry out our nursing responsibilities. I’m thrilled that we have resource/ break RNs who help relieve our hardworking nurses — especially those nurses caring for highly critical patients — for breaks and meals.
We also have 24/7 intensivists who are not only excellent at what they do, but are also great educators for the staff. In the course of my duties, I distribute clinical assignments based on the skills, abilities and knowledge of our staff. I constantly evaluate and confirm that the delivery of care is up to our standards of practice. I solve patient care issues and conflicts using critical thinking skills, our code of ethics and hospital policies and procedures.
From your perspective, what are the most important traits of effective nurse managers?
One must know how to set standards of practice. Nurse managers must be organized, creative, flexible, honest, fair, consistent and reasonable. They must also be positive; have a good sense of humor; and be able to make difficult decisions, resolve conflict and motivate others.
How does an effective nurse manager motivate nurses to be better at what they do and reach their full potential?
How does an effective nurse manager motivate nurses to be better at what they do and reach their full potential? By helping to teach them the most efficient ways to manage patient care. Education and improved efficiency make nurses better able to handle stressful situations. Most of the time, I provide education and bedside in-services for nurses on new procedures. I also watch closely for things that need correction or improvement and performance that deserves special recognition. I believe that recognition and appreciation definitely motivate staff.
In your position as supervisor, how do you encourage self-care for your nurses, including nutrition, hydration and breaks from the hard work of the unit?
Occasionally, the healthcare work environment can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned nurses. By taking advantage of our resources — such as resource/break nurses — we’re able to intermittently relieve workplace stress by providing nurses time to rest and recover.
What are some common characteristics of the most successful nurses who work for you?
The most successful nurses on our team are the ones with strong critical thinking skills as well as those who've had a lot of nursing experience, but are still willing to learn and embrace changes and advancing technologies. Being able to hear constructive criticism is important, especially if the nurse can view it as a learning opportunity. These are the nurses whom I respect the most and whom I see as most effective in their roles.
Do you believe that nurses should earn a BSN in the interest of their careers and their effectiveness as clinicians and leaders?
I believe continuing education is critical to improving healthcare delivery. By educating nurses, we improve outcomes for patients and nurse satisfaction. However, I do not feel that nurses should be required to earn a BSN unless it is in their best professional interests to pursue a higher level of education. We have designated clinical educators who are deeply involved with staff to help elevate the knowledge and improve the effectiveness of our nurses.
How do you encourage your nurses to support the families of ICU patients and ease their fears?
We encourage our nurses to educate families about their loved ones’ diagnoses and plans of care. By educating family members, we’re able to alleviate many concerns. And, by being honest, we can establish healthy relationships with family members in order to better facilitate the care of their loved ones. We provide grieving family members with bereavement carts (which include refreshments and snacks). We also hold family and physician conferences to keep families updated on patient status.
When patients are transferred out of the ICU to another unit, are they more acute than in the past?
Definitely. Especially now, patients that are admitted to ICU are very critical. Our job is to treat and stabilize them in the unit. With the multiple comorbidities that patients have onboard, they’re actually sicker than the regular medical or telemetry patients who are admitted from the ED and transition to the floor.
What steps should nurses take to become the ideal candidate for an ICU position?
Simply make the leap. Be courageous, willing to learn and humble, and soak it all in like a sponge. Taking critical care classes will also help, but finding a transitional program to ICU such as the Transition Fellowship Versant Program here at MLKCH is definitely a plus.
What are your personal career goals? To be able to go back to school to get my master’s degree in nursing management so I can apply what I learn to my current practice.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, CPC, NC-BC, has worked as a nurse since 1996 and has maintained the popular nursing blog Digital Doorway since 2005. He offers expert professional coaching for nurses and nursing students at www.nursekeith.com.
This article is from workingnurse.com.