The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) has appointed two inaugural Penn Nurse Innovation Fellows:
Jennifer Pinto-Martin, PhD, MPH – Viola MacInnes/Independence Professor of Nursing, a Professor of Epidemiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Executive Director of the Center for Public Health Initiatives
Leah Moran, MSN, RN – Nurse Manager for the Cardiac Intermediate Care Unit at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
The fellowship is intended to support nursing faculty by developing an intellectual foundation in innovation methodology and gaining expertise in testing new approaches to health care delivery and improved patient outcomes. Formally launched this month, the fellowship is a collaboration between Penn Nursing, Penn Medicine’s Center for Health Care Innovation (CHCI), and the Penn Health System Department of Nursing.
Innovation Fellows are expected to learn new techniques for testing ideas faster at lower costs, enabling them to drive change in health care at local, state, and national levels. Fostering multidisciplinary collaboration, fellows will work directly with designers, developers, and innovation specialists over the course of a semester. Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN, says,
“Nurses are natural innovators. The opportunity to embed Fellows within the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation provides opportunities to not only learn different approaches – but also to provide patient and family perspectives to on-going work within the Center.”
After learning about cultural diversity by reading a nursing textbook, five nursing students from Pennsylvania College of Technology got to go out and experience diversity firsthand. Participating in a study abroad course, students traveled to the small town of Nueva Santa Rosa, Guatemala to treat patients in a medical clinic for seven days.
The Penn College students were led by Christine B. Kavanagh, the instructor of nursing programs, and accompanied by a larger volunteer group from Glens Falls Medical Mission. Glens Falls is based in New York and leads weekly trips to the small Guatemala community twice a year to help patients who live two hours away from the nearest hospital.
During their weeklong stint at the medical clinic, the group of volunteers saw over 1,300 patients by communicating through translators. They practiced in five clinical areas including triage, dental, pediatrics, women’s health, and general medicine, providing basic screenings, treatments, medical education, fluoride for dental care, and referrals to outside specialists when needed. Students were amazed by the positivity exuded by their patients who experience a wide variety of issues, not just medical.
Penn College offers a variety of study abroad courses, but this was the first time nursing students participated in a trip. After a successful mission, they hope to offer the course and service trip to nursing students every fall. In addition to the nursing trip, Penn College also offers a course in providing dental hygiene education in the Dominican Republic.
Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN, recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award, an award honoring longstanding and profound impacts on neonatal nursing from the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN). Spatz is a Professor of Perinatal Nursing and the Helen M. Shearer Term Professor of Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing). She is also the director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Lactation Program.
Spatz began her career in nursing as a first-generation college student at Penn Nursing where she received all of her formal education including a BSN degree in 1986, MSN in 1989, and PhD in 1995. With the help of mentors at Penn Nursing who realized and nurtured her potential, Spatz joined the Penn Nursing faculty after earning her PhD where she now mentors her own students and involves them in her research projects.
In her academic roles as clinical educator and nurse researcher in lactation, Spatz educates and consults on breastfeeding care for families, including providing prenatal and post-delivery education for mothers with infants with complex surgical or non-surgical anomalies. Her development of DVDs on skin-to-skin transfer of ventilated infants and her empowering DVD, The Power of Pumping, are both used in hospitals around the world.
As an educator and mentor at Penn Nursing, Spatz teaches one of the only undergraduate case study courses in human milk and breastfeeding in the world. She also teaches guest lectures on breastfeeding and research to BSN and MSN programs. Among Spatz’ other achievements is induction as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2007 and recognition as an Academy Edge Runner in 2015 for her model of care to promote and protect human milk and breastfeeding for vulnerable infants.
In a 2011 Call to Action to the United States Surgeon General, Spatz provided a testimony to support breastfeeding, providing steps for a society-wide approach to supporting breastfeeding mothers and babies. Her testimony highlighted the critical role of nurses in lactation support and the critical need for human milk and breastfeeding for vulnerable infants.
Meet our Nurse of the Week, Tricia Seaman, the oncology nurse who adopted her cancer patient’s 8-year-old son after she passed away. Tricia was an oncology nurse in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania when she met her patient, Tricia Somers. At the end of Somers’ three-week hospital stay, she discovered she was terminal. As the nurse and patient got to know each other, Tricia Somers asked her nurse “When I die, will you and your husband take my son?”
Seaman was 43 when she met her new patient Tricia Somers in March 2014. Somers was 45 at the time and had been diagnosed with a rare liver cancer the previous year. She was in recovery when she entered into Seaman’s care, but her doctors weren’t hopeful about her outcome. Seaman recalls how difficult it was to see such a young patient so ill.
Quickly learning that her patient had an 8-year-old son named Wesley, Seaman had even more empathy for Somers who was a single mom. When Somers learned that she was terminal three weeks later, Seaman was shocked by her patient’s request that she take her son after she died. However, after having four children with her husband, Seaman and her family were considering adding to their family by adopting. They had already been approved as foster parents but hadn’t been contacted yet.
During her hospital stay Somers didn’t have much of a support system, so Seaman and her family took her patient and son in to stay with them over Mother’s Day weekend. Their time together was enjoyed by both families so as Somers’ health began to further decline, she and her son moved in with the Seamans to allow Wesley to start adjusting to his new and much larger family.
They became a part of Seamans family, even going on vacations together, making a slow transition to prepare Wesley as well as possible for the big transitions going on in his young life. He knew what was going to happen to his mom, and when Somers passed away in the winter of 2014, the Seamans seamlessly took over guardianship of Wesley. Two years later, Seaman says that Wesley blends right in with their family. Now 10, he has adapted to his new family, accepting his three new sisters and brother, and even referring to Seaman and her husband as his parents.
As a hospice nurse with Mother Teresa Hospice in New Sewickley Township, PA, Kelley Fishovitz has made it her life’s work to help terminal patients. Most importantly, she wants to help her patients die with dignity and in comfort. This means that in any given workday, Fishovitz might encompass the role of medical professional, grief counselor, or friend.
Working as a hospice nurse can take its toll emotionally, but for the most part Kelley finds her work fulfilling. It’s certainly not a profession for everybody, but for those who choose it, Fishovitz says there is a real sense of appreciation from patients and their families.
Hospice care is comprised of a team of professionals working together to provide the best possible care to a patient. Social workers, chaplains, nurses, and other medical professionals determine a comprehensive plan according to each individual’s needs, wants, and beliefs. However, despite being part of a team, Fishovitz often finds herself wearing many different hats. While administering medications or changing diapers to keep a patient comfortable, she might also be simultaneously listening to grieving family members.
While the emotional part of the job is very challenging, it can also take its toll on Fishovitz’ family. With two small children at home, she is often called away from parties, soccer practices, dinner, or sleeping in the middle of the night to assist a dying patient. For Fishovitz, a normal workload is about a dozen patients, and she becomes a part of each of their families because end-of-life care is such a personal experience. She has made it her own personal code as a hospice nurse to attend viewings and funerals for her beloved patients.
In the role of hospice nurse, you have to accept that every patient in your care is going to die, but that fact doesn’t deter Fishovitz. She knows that hospice care requires a strong person, and it’s a job meant only for a few special people, and being one of those people is exactly why she does it. Thank you, Kelley Fishovitz, our Nurse of the Week, for your compassionate and positive care as a hospice nurse.
After father-daughter duo Jamie and Erica Cernobyl had established separate non-nursing careers, both realized their true career dreams and the nontraditional pair graduated from Northampton Community College (NCC) together with associate’s degrees in registered nursing on May 26. The pair had not intended to graduate together, but by chance they were both accepted into NCC’s nursing program in the same year.
Jamie Cernobyl had been happily working as a welder for over 33 years but knew he had wanted to go back to school for nursing for quite some time. He tried at a younger age, but with three daughters all under 10 it wasn’t the right time for a father with a good job and a growing family. But at 54 years old, Jamie knew it was still his dream to be a nurse so three years ago he started taking general education classes so he could go back to school.
Erica Cernobyl originally went to Moravian College for nursing, but later changed her major to sociology. She started college young, at only 17, and wasn’t sure what she wanted to do at the time but now at 25 years old and three-years post-grad she knows her true passion is in nursing. Erica partly attributes her grandmother as one of the reasons she became a nurse. Her grandmother always spoke highly of nurses, saying they were her angels.
After applying to NCC’s nursing program because of its reputation, the father-daughter duo attended classes at different times with Jamie taking weekend and night classes and Erica going to class during the day. Jamie later switched to daytime classes in his second semester and began taking classes with his daughter. It turned out that the two of them made a strong pair, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses which greatly influenced the nurses they are today. Erica found her strengths in the classroom while Jamie found his strengths were more clinical, and together they helped each other with the other’s weaknesses.
Now post-graduation, Erica will be going to work in the medical surge oncology department at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem Township and Jamie will be working in the emergency room at St. Luke’s Hospital in Allentown. Erica’s new nursing career is occurring in conjunction with her pending marriage in October. Both Erica and Jamie said they have Joanie Cernobyl to thank, their respective mother and wife who provided a support system while they were in nursing school together. It was a tough challenge for both of them, but there are excited to begin their new careers and know that it’s never too late to go back to school at any age.