Baystate Medical Center
Position: Cardiac Shortstay RN
Education: Holyoke Hospital School of Nursing, diploma; American International College, B.S. in Human Services; American International College, M.A. in Clinical Psychology; 30 post-master’s credits in Nursing and Education.
Favorite hobby: “Digging in the dirt. I love to garden.”
Why she got (back) into nursing: After 12 years as an R.N., including time as a school nurse, Avery became a high school guidance counselor for 11 years. But the pull back into nursing was strong. “My heart has always been in nursing. And all those critical thinking and communication skills were easily transferrable to either profession. Now, as an RN with a full load, it’s as if I’d never exited the profession. But it was scary coming back.”
Favorite aspect of the job: “The job is much more technical than it has ever been, but a lot of the technology has enabled me to spend more time with patients at their bedside. I’m especially happy to do a lot of patient teaching.” Also, “there are new opportunities to learn. Every day is a new day; every patient is a new patient. That’s something I need — to be challenged.”
Most challenging aspect of the job: To effectively diagnose the reasons for patients’ chest pains, nurses have to have a full knowledge of the lab work and electrocardiogram changes that can indicate the furthering of a problem, Avery said. But one of the main challenges of her job is also a great opportunity — patient education. “At this point in their lives, these patients have experienced chest pain and the fear that they might be having a heart attack. It’s a perfect teachable moment to get them to make some changes in their lifestyle, give up some of the high-risk factors for heart attacks.”
How has the industry changed? “The thing I’m most pleased about is that nursing has a higher level of respect with physicians and administrators. We are encouraged to use our knowledge and skills on a professional level, and to continue our education and given opportunities to increase our skill level.”
How would she improve nursing? “I would like to see a better nurse-patient ratio so that we can really give patients the care and education they need to be able to go back to living a full life. It’s amazing how fast people are discharged from the hospital. It requires a great deal of teaching on our part to make them aware of how to recover successfully at home. The average open-heart patient leaves the hospital in five days!”
Violeta de los Reyes
Spectrum Home Health Care
Position: Director of Quality Assurance and Improvement
Education: St. Anne’s School of Nursing, Phillippines, graduate nursing degree; American International College, B.S. in Nursing; currently enrolled in AIC’s M.B.A. program.
Favorite hobby: Listening to music and watching Broadway shows; her son is an aspiring actor.
Why she got into nursing: Growing up in the Phillippines, “it had always been my passion to serve people.” She became an orthopedic nurse and came to the United States in 1991, starting out as a staff nurse in Miami. She eventually moved to administrative roles at Heritage Nursing and Rehabilitation in North Miami Beach, first as assistant director of nursing, then director of nursing. Upon moving to Massachusetts in 1998, she came to work at Jewish Geriatric Services, first at the Julian J.eavitt Family Jewish Nursing Home as director of quality assurance and assistant director of nursing, then at Spectrum. “I really love to be taking care of people,” she said. “I’m a people person in general; I have compassion for them.”
Favorite aspect of the job: “The most satisfying part of the job is when you see the clients — or residents, or patients — receive a good outcome. It’s very satisfying to see that patients are improving based on the quality of care provided to them.” In addition, de los Reyes is satisfied with Jewish Geriatric Services’ work with the NICHE — Nurses Improving Care for Health System Elders — program. JGS is the only non-hospital institution involved in the quality-improvement effort, which involves administrators attending a two-day seminar to learn best practices in nursing care, then educating their entire campus in the NICHE paradigm upon returning.
Most challenging aspect of the job: “Right now, the shortage of nurses is one of the biggest challenges facing us here in the United States. Because of the shortage, we’re having difficulty with how we provide care to the growing number of elderly patients.”
How has the industry changed? “There are a lot of documentations that nurses are encountering right now. It’s a bigger part of their job these days.”
How would she improve nursing? “I think we need to do more to promote nursing as a profession, to entice younger generations to come into nursing, because there are a lot of things the profession can offer.” It’s a give-and-take proposition, she said, with the rewards equaling what a nurse puts into her work. “Of course, the number-one thing is for you to be very compassionate and give hands-on care and services to the patient.”
Position: ICU Nurse and Clinical Instructor for Critical Care Unit
Education: Holyoke Community College, Associate in Science; Mount Holyoke College, B.A. in Biology; Florida Southern College, B.S. in Nursing.
Favorite Hobby: Mainly outdoor activities. “I have a 3-year-old son, and I’m always taking him out hiking or biking.”
Why she got into nursing: At first, Glynn was a pre-med student at Mount Holyoke. Then she did a summer internship with a couple of surgeons at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield. “I was thinking that was my future. But I was a little discouraged with the business side of medicine, and surprised at how little doctors are able to put their hands on the patient and do the things I thought medicine was. The nurses I worked with were fabulous, and I decided that would be my career.”
Favorite aspect of the job: “Definitely the bedside nursing and all the little things that make a difference for patients, whether it’s doing skin care or repositioning them for comfort or, especially, reassuring someone in critical care when they’re near death. That’s something you can’t measure. It’s a very personal interaction with the patient, providing something other than the medicine the doctors prescribe. It’s the personal touch nurses can bring to the bedside. On the educator side, I’m able to work with the ER, OR, and ICU staffs, training all the new employees and updating everyone’s skills. That’s really rewarding.”
Most challenging aspect of the job: “Limited resources — having a hard time getting things that the patient needs access to. When they’re in the hospital, diagnosed with some illness, they go home on a lot of medications, and a lot of these patients can’t afford them. Sometimes it’s a choice between eating or taking meds, especially in the elderly population. They really struggle with adding a new medication to an already long list.”
How has the industry changed? “Patients are sicker. Working in critical care, that was somewhat anticipated, but when I go to the floors, I see how sick people are, and I see unlicensed people taking care of them. There are less nurses and more aides, and that’s kind of frightening. There’s maybe one RN that has responsibility for all the patients.”
How would she improve nursing? “One of the things I’m trying to do as a clinical educator is to bring as many free educational programs to the nurses as I can. It’s more satisfying if you’re able to deliver state-of-the-art care and be up on new medications and technologies.”