Reaching Out to a New Generation of Nurses

Three nurse mentor-mentee teams share their stories

Professional conferences provide invaluable learning and exposure for nurses. This is why Cleveland Clinic’s Zielony Institute encourages nurses at all levels to find national events that offer growth opportunities. Each year, nurse leaders from throughout the institute present at hundreds of these conferences, and many pair up with newer nurses to serve as a guide.

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Here we take a closer look at three groups of nurse mentors and their mentees and how these partnerships open up communication, lead to professional development and advance innovations.

Mentor Jane Hartman | Katie Frate

Teamwork Leads to Innovation

For Katie Frate, BSN, RN, improving vascular access for pediatric patients has become a mission. Together with longtime pediatric nurse Jane Hartman, MSN, CPNP, Frate ignited an effort that helped lead to a new nurse-led Pediatric Vascular Access Team (PVAT) in Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

The pair joined efforts two years ago when they attended the scientific meeting of the Association for Vascular Access (AVA) in Tennessee. “I was in awe at the first conference I went to,” says Frate. “I got to meet people and see what was going on out there in other children’s hospitals.” Says Hartman: “It’s so important for nurses to explore and be part of an organization that is ‘bigger than them.’”

Hartman’s current peripheral vascular research project to develop vascular access initiation guidelines for pediatric patients (approved by Cleveland Clinic’s Institutional Review Board) has also been a great lesson for Frate. This work contributed to the development of the new PVAT, which got underway in early 2015.

In September 2014, Hartman presented “Two-Plus-Two- Plus-Two Is Too Many; Using Benner’s Theory to Initiate Pediatric Vascular Access Guidelines” at the AVA conference in Washington, D.C., with Frate by her side. With Hartman’s encouragement, Frate applied for a national scholarship and was one of only three nurses across the country to receive funds that allowed her to attend the event.

This fall, Frate will take the lead in presenting her own topic, “The David and Goliath of Vascular Access, How One Staff Nurse Slayed the Giant,” at the 2015 AVA conference in Dallas. “I was fortunate that Jane took me under her wing,” says Frate. “I would not be where I am today without her help and resources. Being on the floor is stressful, and she encourages me to make the right choice every time.”

Both Hartman and Frate say their professional relationship will continue to improve vascular access for the most vulnerable population — our children. “The vascular access project unfolded beautifully with support from leadership and Katie’s dedicated effort,” says Hartman, who has been in the field for years advocating for a nurse-led PVAT team. “This just shows how one person’s passion can ignite a movement.”

Mentor Kathy Burns | Andrea Allen, Anna Maria Damm and Jennifer Fuller

Encouraging Career Development at One Hospital

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Perhaps nowhere in the Cleveland Clinic health system has career development been so pronounced in the past two years as at Medina Hospital. At this rural regional hospital, the number of participants in the Career Ladder program jumped from 16 nurses in 2011 to 65 in 2013, and it continues to increase.

You might trace this back to 2012, when 20-year Medina nurse veteran Kathy Burns, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, ACCNS-A/G, CEN, became the facilitator for the hospital’s Education and Professional Development Committee. In this role, she invited more staff nurses to be involved and empowered them to take on new projects.

Three staff nurses, in particular, took on leadership roles on the committee — Andrea Allen, BSN, RN, CMSRN; Anna Maria Damm, BSN, RN; and Jennifer Fuller, BA, RN, CMSRN. With Burns’ guidance on writing an abstract, the foursome put together the “Charting a Path for Professional Development” project, which they presented at the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Pathway to Excellence® Conference in Texas in May 2014. Soon after, Allen, Damm and Fuller updated the project and presented the poster at Cleveland Clinic’s own Shared Governance Day, where it won “fan favorite” from among 200+ posters.

The objective of the project was threefold: increase participation in the Career Ladder program, promote continuous learning through education, and recognize nurse accomplishments via the health system awards program.

In addition, Damm took the lead on coordinating a career fair at the hospital that now brings dozens of college representatives from nursing schools to the hospital campus each fall. She also serves as a one-on-one mentor for nurses who are looking to advance their careers.

Says Damm: “After obtaining my BSN, I was motivated to encourage others. Hopefully, I’m helping nurses realize that it’s not as overwhelming and impossible as they might think to get their degree. We can help shape the future of nursing.”

Together, Allen and Fuller worked on a poster that promoted the Career Ladder program. The poster has been displayed prominently throughout the hospital. Today, they also offer one-on-one career mentoring to other nurses.

Says Fuller, “This project is important for the nursing profession as a whole because it brings awareness of higher education, certification and our career ladder.” Says Allen: “This doesn’t just benefit us — it benefits our patients and the hospital.”

All three nurses agree that they could not have had such an impact on career advancement at Medina Hospital without Burns’ leadership. “Kathy was instrumental in encouraging us and supporting us. It was great to know she believed in our abilities,” says Damm.

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“As nurses it is so important that we pass on what we know,” Burns says. Or “pass the torch,” as they say.

Mentor David Holloway | Nicolas Houghton

Getting Accepted to Present Nationally

With a topic in mind for a presentation for the Air Medical Transport Conference, Nicolas Houghton, MSN, ACNPBC, CFRN, reached out to his manager, David Holloway, MSN, ACNP, CCRN, CFRN, for help. He knew it would be a challenge to have his paper accepted. This national conference is the only one of its kind for the field of medical transport. Holloway, the APN manager for Critical Care Transport, had presented at this conference in the past.

“It was an online submission process, and I needed help in framing the topic and wordsmithing it so it would be a relatable subject for people who attend this conference,” says Houghton. “Dave helped me bridge the gap.”

His topic idea came from a transport experience he had with a patient who presented with an airway stent—specifically, the Montgomery T-tube stent. His eventual title for the talk was “Interventional Airway Stents: Not Your Average Cup of ‘T.’” Since there has been an increase in placement of stents in the airway (although still fairly uncommon), Houghton wanted to share the positive outcome he had with others in the field.

“It was a great topic — it just needed a little finessing,” says Holloway, who met with Houghton a few times to work through the details. Conference attendees included paramedics, nurses, physicians and a myriad of people in the critical care transport industry. Presenting to this audience, Holloway says, is not easy. “You have to walk the line between providing enough technical information and making the presentation appealing to a broad audience. Nico did a great job getting the audience to interact.”

Houghton used live text messaging during his talk to invite audience participation, and in the end, he received highly positive survey feedback from attendees at the October 2014 conference in Nashville.

“He was able to take an esoteric topic and make it relevant and interesting to the wide audience,” says Holloway. Concurrent with the conference planning, Houghton has been busy pursuing his doctoral degree and plans to graduate in 2015. Soon after the fall 2014 conference where he spoke, Houghton again asked Holloway for professional guidance on his final written project for school. “Dave has really been there for me through my conference presentation and through school,” says Houghton.