Nurses of the Week: University of Arkansas Nursing Students Volunteer in Ghana

Nurses of the Week: University of Arkansas Nursing Students Volunteer in Ghana

Our Nurses of the Week are fifteen students from the University of Arkansas Eleanor Mann School of Nursing who spent three weeks this past June volunteering in Ghana, a country in West Africa. The students spent their time helping to deliver babies, teaching wound care, infant hydration, dental hygiene, and CPR, but they also got to experience the local culture at a Ghanaian wedding and while spotting elephants in the wild on a safari.

Study abroad experiences for the nursing school have only recently been offered. The trip was organized by Carol Agana, instructor of nursing, who has traveled to West Africa many times over the last decade and owns a home there with her husband, a Ghana native. Through her connections there, Agana partnered with local healthcare providers and nonprofits to set up learning opportunities for her nursing students. Allison Scott, assistant professor of nursing, also joined on the trip.

The students were required to attend pre-travel meetings to learn about the African healthcare system, chronic diseases, health disparities, and techniques for assessing health in communities. Agana and Scott wanted the students to understand that they were going there to learn, not to change things. Natalie Gohman, a senior nursing student at the University of Arkansas who plans to graduate next May, tells News.UArk.edu:

“We all learned a lot about ourselves. We’ve grown up in America, where our health-care system is one of the best. This area doesn’t have that, yet we learned about different procedures and everyday tasks they do in a much simpler way using the resources they have.”

To learn more about these students’ experience volunteering in Ghana, visit their public Facebook page or https://goo.gl/C9DXev.

Nurse of the Week: New Nurse Deanna Pavil Tackled Nursing School with Pregnancy and Newborn

Nurse of the Week: New Nurse Deanna Pavil Tackled Nursing School with Pregnancy and Newborn

Our Nurse of the Week is newlywed and new nurse Deanna Pavil who received a big surprise just two days after finding out she was pregnant – she had also been accepted to nursing school at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Pavil was aware of the challenges that would come with juggling pregnancy and a newborn with a rigorous nursing school schedule and didn’t know how to make the right decision. However, her parents encouraged her to follow her dreams and she is now graduated and working as a registered nurse in the outpatient clinics at Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation.

“I enjoyed working in medical records, but knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to do more to help people and make a difference in their lives. The same week I quit my job, I got a phone call about the CNA class.”

Pavil had known she wanted to pursue a career in healthcare since high school when her family traveled to Anchorage for her grandmother’s open-heart surgery. After high school, she worked in medical records at Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital for four years, then started taking classes to become a certified nurse aid (CNA). It was then that she realized her true calling to become a nurse, and later graduated from UAF with an associate of applied science degree in nursing in December 2016.

In an interview with News.UAF.edu, Pavil says, “I enjoyed working in medical records, but knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to do more to help people and make a difference in their lives. The same week I quit my job, I got a phone call about the CNA class.”

Pavil was thankful for her CNA experience which made the transition into nursing school much easier. It gave her the training and academic foundation needed to succeed in a challenging nursing school program, but she also couldn’t have graduated without the help of her husband and parents who took time off to help care for her son Bennett. Now that she is a working nurse, Pavil says the best part of her nursing work is helping people in her community.

Thank you, Deanna, for showing other nurses that it’s possible to pursue personal and professional goals simultaneously if you’re willing to put in the hard work. To learn more about Pavil and her experience tackling nursing school and a new family at the same time, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: Michelle Peterson Pursues Nursing Following Job as Victim Advocate

Nurse of the Week: Michelle Peterson Pursues Nursing Following Job as Victim Advocate

Our Nurse of the Week is Michelle Peterson who decided to become a nurse in 2010 after asking an academic advisor at Utah State University (USU), “I like to help people. What should I do?” Before pursuing nursing, Peterson was working as the victim advocate for Grand County, Utah. However, she later decided that nursing would be a better fit, and attended nursing school at USU-Moab from 2012 to 2014. Now, Peterson works as the operating room nurse manager at Moab Regional Hospital.

Although working as a victim advocate was a rewarding job, it also took its toll on Peterson and offered very little job security. Peterson was in her 20s when she became a victim advocate, and after growing up with a stable childhood, she was shocked by the victims she helped who had witnessed domestic violence, child abuse, and other ugly crimes. Now graduated and a working nurse, Peterson tells MoabTimes.com:

“Nursing is the best decision I ever made so even on hard days, there are still so many good things that come out. It’s a high demand, stressful job and that’s why not everybody’s doing it but the benefits outweigh the negatives.”

Being a nurse is a rewarding job for Peterson and she loves helping locals who come to the hospital from babies being born to elderly patients who are dying, and everything in between including preventative care. Vicki Gigliotti, Moab Regional Hospital Chief Clinical Officer, praises Peterson’s nursing management style saying, “She is smart and always willing to learn. As a young nurse manager, she is constantly assuring that her staff members and physicians have the needed resources to provide truly high quality care. Our hospital is grateful to have Michelle, her skill set, and her attitude moving into the future.”

To learn more about Michelle Peterson’s path to nursing and love for the rewarding profession, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: Emergency Department Nurse Darren Moon Receives Healing Hands Award

Nurse of the Week: Emergency Department Nurse Darren Moon Receives Healing Hands Award

Our Nurse of the Week is Darren Moon, a staff nurse in the Loma Linda University Medical Center emergency department, who recently received the 500th Healing Hands Award for his lifesaving care. When patient David Colwell was admitted after experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, Moon stepped in and took the necessary steps to ensure that Colwell received the lifesaving medical care he needed.

Moon was reunited with the patient whose life he saved after Colwell nominated him for the Loma Linda University Health Healing Hands Program. Surrounded by emergency department colleagues, Moon was recognized for his actions as the 500th Healing Hands Grateful Patient Program recipient.

According to News.LLU.edu, Colwell addressed Moon at the awards presentation with the following: “Thank you for your expertise and quick action to address my situation. I understand you were also part of the team in the cardiac cath lab who attended to me. I’m glad you are part of the Loma Linda family.” The nomination came as a surprise to Moon, but he was honored to receive the 500th Healing Hands pin.

The Loma Linda University Health Healing Hands Program provides patients a way to recognize staff members who have provided exceptional care, according to their website. The program allows patients and their families to give a gift of any amount, and direct it to supporting the campus in any way they choose along with a note to the caregiver.

Connie Cunningham, executive director of emergency services at Loma Linda University Health, praised Darren with kind words: “Darren is an amazing nurse, skilled and well-rounded. When David arrived in the emergency department, Darren was focused and calm as he sifted through all of the symptoms.”

Time is of the essence with patients like David who exhibit cardiac-related indicators, and thanks to Moon’s lifesaving care, Colwell is now in good health. To learn more about Moon and Colwell’s nurse-patient relationship, visit here.

Nurses of the Week: Kaile Neuschatz and Kelsey Halbert, Stroke Nurse Navigators at Yale New Haven Hospital

Nurses of the Week: Kaile Neuschatz and Kelsey Halbert, Stroke Nurse Navigators at Yale New Haven Hospital


Our Nurses of the Week are Kaile Neuschatz and Kelsey Halbert, both registered nurses and Stroke Nurse Navigators at Yale New Haven Hospital. As stroke nurse navigators, it is their job to provide continuity of care for stroke patients from the acute care phase to the recovery care phase to optimize outcomes for the patient.

Suffering a stroke sends a patient on a path to medical treatment, rehabilitation, and home care which can be a confusing process. This is where stroke nurse navigators come in, helping guide those who have suffered a stroke attack through their entire treatment and recovery process. Stroke patients are seen by countless providers so a stroke nurse navigator is there to provide a familiar face throughout the entire care process.

Halbert tells the New Haven Register, “Although we’re not active members of the treatment team…our relationship with those patients begins when they roll through the door [of the emergency department].” Quality of life outcomes for stroke patients are greatly improved the more quickly they are treated, which is why the stroke nurse navigator begins their work even before a stroke is definitively diagnosed.

Navigators have been part of the health care team in pediatrics and oncology for some time at Yale New Haven Hospital, but became part of the stroke care team in May 2016. The hospital serves a low-income urban population that is more susceptible to illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes – all risk factors for stroke. Karin Nystrom, advanced practice registered nurse and manager of Yale New Haven’s Stroke Center, says:

“Because we are one of two comprehensive stroke centers in Connecticut, our patient population tends to be more complex, which necessitates the importance of the navigator role, because patients have so many complicated co-morbidities or illnesses that complicate their stroke.”

To learn more about Neuschatz and Halbert and the role of the Stroke Nurse Navigator, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: Nurse Practitioner Karen Pekle Opens Home to Cancer Patient

Nurse of the Week: Nurse Practitioner Karen Pekle Opens Home to Cancer Patient

Our Nurse of the Week is oncology nurse practitioner Karen Pekle who opened her home up to cancer patient Olivia Chin who was in need of lifesaving treatments at Weill Cornell Myeloma Center in New York City, more than four hours from her home in upstate New York.

Chin was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a particularly deadly form of cancer, in 2009, and told she had 12 to 18 months to live. She didn’t meet Pekle until 2011, who on the same day they met welcomed Chin to stay in her Upper East Side home during treatments. Pekle also sat with Chin after an emergency hospitalization when Chin’s husband and two children were stuck at home.

Chin never took Pekle up on her offer thanks to a partnership between Extended Stay America and the American Cancer Society which gives cancer patients and their caregivers free lodging during treatments as part of a program called Hotel Keys of Hope. However, Chin never forgot the gracious offer and honored Pekle for going the extra mile by nominating her for Nurse of the Year through the American Cancer Society’s nationwide competition for 2017. Pekle was named Nurse of the Year this June, the first time the American Cancer Society honored an oncology nurse.

“We always talk about the [cancer] survivors, but we knew it was time to honor caregivers, especially the nurses who are with patients every step of the way.”

Pekle told The New York Post, “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I probably said something like, ‘I have a couch you can use.’ But I would have given her the bed.” But it was a huge deal to Chin, who eight years after her diagnosis is continuing to beat the odds thanks to dedicated nurses like Pekle. Amanda Kent, social-media coordinator for Extended Stay America, told The Post, “We always talk about the [cancer] survivors, but we knew it was time to honor caregivers, especially the nurses who are with patients every step of the way.”

To learn more about Pekle’s nursing background and relationship with Chin, visit here.

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