Vicki is still helping patients and learning new skills after three decades in nursing at Northwell
During COVID-19 there were many changes at each hospital to accommodate the increasing needs for patients. Many healthcare workers also went above and beyond to treat patients by leveraging their skills in different ways.
Vicki Weyhreter, a Northwell nurse for 27 years, and her team members at Huntington Hospital began to see changes on their PACU floor. Typically, the PACU floor is where the patients go to recover temporarily from anesthesia after surgery. With the pandemic and temporary suspension of many surgeries, the PACU floor was transformed into a COVID critical care unit and Vicki and her team members were there to help in new ways.
Embracing new opportunities for patient care
As a seasoned healthcare professional, Vicki has impacted many lives during her career at Northwell and began her career as a Registered Nurse at Huntington Hospital in 1993. Throughout her career, she spent 13 years in the Intensive Care unit, eight years in the Recovery unit, and recently spent time in the Interventional Radiology unit. She has been fortunate to have many opportunities during her career to learn new skills and develop professionally. Vicki looked at her newest assignment during COVID as another opportunity to grow and help care for the patients in the community.
This assignment could not be accomplished alone—it required a team effort. Vicki and other PACU nurses were joined by anesthesia and trauma surgeons and physician assistants. Everyone worked collaboratively to optimize their skills, learn new tactics, and go above and beyond for their patients. Their strength came from the compassion they felt for their patients, which is what kept them going during this difficult time.
Vicki described seeing their patients giving a thumbs up or sitting in a chair as “the best feeling of our day.” When a patient is discharged from their unit, the team comes together to cheer and clap as they transition out of critical care.
Although the PACU unit will never be the same to most of the team members at Huntington Hospital, saving lives and embracing teamwork to provide the greatest care for the patient remains the same.
Vicki and her team members are truly Made for This, exemplifying the importance of their role in helping others fight the virus, and giving hope to their patients. Are you Made for a nursing career at Northwell? Learn more about nursing at Northwell Health.
Beyond the PPE: Two nurses help patients and staff connect during COVID
Lulette Infante and Antonella Farrell, registered nurses at Northwell Health and lifelong friends, came together during the COVID pandemic to identify a solution for our clinical team members so they could maintain that personal connection during patient care. These two incredible nurses wanted to ensure that our patients would still be able to see the identities of our healthcare heroes, whose faces were covered by their personal protection equipment (PPE), so they created photo badges for our clinical staff to wear over their PPE.
The idea was prompted after reading a New York Times article featuring Cohen Children’s Medical Center’s Senior Vice President Dr. Schlein who acknowledged his gratitude to the frontline workers who saved his life from COVID, but he had no idea who they were because of their PPE. Thus, Project Unseen Heroes was formed so patients would be able to see the smiling, caring faces of our frontline workers.
A career journey that surpasses two decades
Both Lulette Infante, MSN, RN, CPON, and Antonella Farrell, BSN, RN, began their careers more than two decades ago as a student nurse intern from Adelphi University at CCMC in 1996. They advanced their careers at Northwell throughout their journey, holding a variety of roles and responsibilities along the way. Today, Lulette is an ambulatory nurse specialist and ambulatory administrator at Northwell where she focuses on quality and optimization for pediatric practices, and Antonella Farrellis is a pediatric Hematology/Oncology, pediatric sickle cell nurse coordinator at CCMC.
One small idea leads to big results
Lulette and Antonella first introduced the large photo badges at CCMC and Long Island Jewish Medical Center, receiving numerous positive responses from leadership, staff and patients. Lulette notes patients even commented, “so that’s what you look like!” Eventually they were able to guide other hospitals, including Northern Westchester, Lenox Hill, Huntington Hospital and even external hospitals such as Elmhurst Hospital, to develop photo badges for their team members.
“The staff is reporting back that they felt it is truly helping their patients now that they can see the smile behind the mask,” Antonella says. The staff has been sending Lulette and Antonella pictures of themselves in the PPE with their badges. Having the large picture badges enabled our frontline workers to maintain that personal connection while caring for their patients while being fully secured under their PPE at the same time.
“We could not even start without the incredible support we have received from our leadership and their commitment to continually enhance patient experience and promote compassionate care,” Lulette says.
Project Unseen Heroes was a success due to Lulette and Antonella’s teamwork. Patients feel more comfortable in the hospital seeing the badges on the nurses and doctors, knowing who is taking care of them.
Lulette and Antonella are true examples of Northwell Heroes. Are you ready to become a Northwell Hero? Join our team.
How a new team delivers hope to COVID-19 patients at Northwell Health
Northwell Health has taken action to find ways that help deliver exceptional care to its patients affected by COVID-19. As many healthcare organizations search for ways to improve patient outcomes during this difficult time, Northwell has trained and equipped its teams to do that and more. One example of this is the formation of its Prone Teams.
Proning is a technique used to help patients breathe easier by changing their body position. As most patients rest on their backs while in the care of nursing staff, the Prone Team carefully places COVID-19 patients on their stomachs, allowing more air into the body and increasing oxygen levels into the lungs. As this technique is used in the operating room on a daily basis for certain surgical procedures, our Perioperative teams were chosen to help spearhead Prone Teams across the organization.
Comprised of perioperative RNs, surgical technologists, perioperative assistants, and physical therapists, our Prone Teams worked to safely turn and position patients into both the prone and supine positions and trained other team members on proper positioning. Implementing this new team during the COVID-19 crisis has proven how Northwell can meet even the biggest challenges with innovative thinking and utilize all team members’ skills to provide care.
Meet some of the team members from the Prone Team making a difference every day.
At Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC), the Prone Team features Christina Raccasi, an RN who joined Northwell as a graduate in 2018 and is currently a perioperative registered nurse. While new experiences always have initial challenges, Christina quickly overcame it due to the support and environment she works in. She states, “Caring for patients in a way that was outside of my comfort zone and training was a scary thought at first, but since many of the Prone Team members are from the operating room, we felt confident in our established teamwork as we work together so regularly.” Beyond just positioning, the Prone Team members deliver care in other ways outside of their usual scope in the OR, helping to protect patients with padding for bony prominences, lip moisturizer, and skin barrier cream.
Joined with Christina in the fight against COVID-19 is Dolores Reisert, Senior Administrative Director II of Perioperative Services, who helped form LIJMC’s Prone Team and shares the same sentiment. She states, “The teamwork among the perioperative and the ICU units is so inspiring and I am so proud of how this team was developed and trained so quickly. The Prone Team has been an asset in this important endeavor in trying to help our patients fight this terrible virus to aid them in the road for recovery.” Dolores joined LIJMC in 2015 with over 32 years of Perioperative experience, and even still, she is able to find more ways to advance her career and develop as a leader within her practice at Northwell. Today, she presently oversees six areas at LIJMC, the Operating Room, ASU, PACU, Endoscopy, Surgical Annex, and Central Sterile and has proven to be an incredible asset to the teams under her leadership.
Over at Huntington Hospital, OR Supervisor Jose Gonzalez’s leadership has proven itself to be equally as valuable to the Prone Team he oversees. While Jose’s usual day-to-day means ensuring the operating room runs smoothly, he stepped up to help lead Huntington’s Prone Team and trained additional team members to support the team and ensure it was running Monday through Sunday. His know-how made him a perfect leader for the team, and much like Dolores and Christina, the experience he brings to the room is what gives Northwell so much confidence in its ability to come out on top of this pandemic. “It’s a surreal feeling walking into these units and being thanked by the ICU team members who work tirelessly around the clock with critical COVID positive patients,” he says. He adds, “My team and I have been honored to be able to help our patients. Even though our patients are vented and may never get to know who we are, they have become our family.”
Each of these members play a role that, at the top of the year, they had no idea they’d be playing. Yet, because of their commitment to care, they have adapted and discovered new skills within their fields that will help heal our communities and bring new hope to the patients that entrust Northwell Health with their lives.
Five reasons why you should choose a Perioperative career at Northwell Health
Perioperative services at Northwell Health are growing fast, and with growth comes a wide range of career opportunities. For qualified nurses looking to enter the field, perioperative careers offer a unique chance to be hands-on and collaborate with other dedicated health care professionals working together to have a direct impact on the lives of their patients. While there are many reasons for joining Northwell in a perioperative career, we’ve provided five reasons why this path is a great decision for anyone looking to make an impact in nursing.
You’ll learn new skills with the most innovative technologies.
As new technologies emerge and the need for more advanced care grows, Northwell provides many opportunities to learn new skills, utilizing state-of-art-technology so perioperative nurses can ensure the highest quality of care for their patients. The latest technology can improve outcomes with greater precision and less invasive procedures, and therefore, increase recovery times, especially in robotic surgery, which has become a trusted method for many of our surgical procedures including cardiac, GYN, ENT, thoracic, neurosurgery, heart and liver transplants, and many more.
Your skills and knowledge will grow along with your career opportunities.
At Northwell Health, perioperative nurses have access to unlimited clinical resources and educational opportunities designed to help them advance their careers. Nurses can engage in peer learning, career progression and certification programs that encourage their growth and provide support at every level in their journey. Just ask Karen Rowan, MSN, NPD-BC, CNOR, director of System Perioperative Education at Northwell. As an RN in the operating room, she was happy in her career, but she felt there was more she could do. She wanted to use her skills to teach so when the opportunity presented itself to be a clinical nurse educator, she took it.
Making a move into an educator position presented her with opportunities that would prove to be a catalyst in her success. “This position allowed me to participate in leading the OR fellowship, orientation program and simulations,” she says. Northwell also gave her the opportunity to present two podium presentations at two national conferences. “I have the opportunity to share my passion of perioperative nursing with nursing students,” she says. It’s not only the students who benefit from Karen’s passion, the OR Fellowship is a great opportunity for both new grad nurses and floor nurses looking to get into perioperative careers. And the patients do as well, making her career journey even that much more rewarding. Karen and her Corporate Perioperative Education team continue to build unique educational opportunities and experiences for new and existing perioperative nurses
You’re Made for delivering award-winning care.
Year after year, Northwell Health is recognized for the care our team delivers to patients. Northwell was the first in the nation to receive the Network of Excellence in Robotic Surgery designation from Surgical Review Corporation. Our cardiac surgery programs have been ranked by the Department of Health (DOH) among the best in New York State with cardiology programs being recognized by Healthgrades as America’s 100 best heart programs. And beyond the award-wining care for our patients is the award-winning care for our team members! This year, Northwell ranked as one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For®,” the only health care provider in New York State to do so in 2020.
You’ll have strength in numbers. Teamwork is what we’re all about.
No matter the discipline, each role within Northwell’s organization works together to accomplish the same goal, to redefine health care. You’ll gain support across a collaborative network of team members, from surgical technologists and registered nurses to physicians, physician assistants, anesthesiologists, CRNAs, and even central sterile processing technicians. The dedicated team’s combined experience means the delivery of groundbreaking outcomes for each patient that comes through the doors, and you’ll play a vital role.
Your career will be guided and supported by leaders who inspire your success.
As Kelly Cifu, MSN, RN, and Vice President of System Perioperative Services, explains, “The perioperative leaders at Northwell are committed to continual improvement, teamwork, achievement, and obtaining the best results possible for our patients.” The result of that is double fold as it also impacts the careers of those delivering care. Take Kelly for example. She started her career 15 years ago in the operating room and today she oversees 18 perioperative sites within our network. During her career journey, she gained critical support and mentorship from her leaders who created a trusting, collaborative environment that positioned her for success.
Emergency room nurse helps patients recovering from COVID-19 feel right at home
When you think of excellent patient care, endless opportunities, and extraordinary teamwork, Northwell comes to mind. Ashley Sells, a registered nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital in the Emergency Room, exemplifies all of these qualities. She continually practices outstanding patient care and teamwork and especially during the critical times of COVID-19. It is during this time where Ashley went above and beyond for our recovering patients to help them feel at home by starting a “Pick-Me-Up-Pillow” fundraiser.
Ashley’s career journey
Ashley started her nursing career with Northwell eight years ago at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC) as a medical surgical nurse, where she served for one year before transferring into the Emergency Room fellowship. Ashley spent two years at LIJMC there before transferring to Lenox Hill. “It was always a dream of mine to live in New York City and work in an ER and Lenox Hill was my ultimate goal,” she says.
Throughout her years at Northwell, Ashley has made a positive impact on leaders and team members as her career has developed. “I am proud to work for an organization that promotes self-growth. Personal input and ideas are always welcome, and leadership continues to assist on any way that they can,” she says. Ashley’s favorite thing about working in emergency medicine is that there always is the ‘unknown’ factor and an element of surprise. She states that, “Every day is a new day, a new learning opportunity. As a nurse, I am challenged each day that I step into work.”
Putting patients first always
During COIVD-19, Ashley took the initiative to raise money selling pillows to help patients feel as comfortable as possible while on the road to recovery. She was inspired by an unfortunate situation when her colleague was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was then admitted into the hospital. She wanted her colleague to feel as much like home as possible while recovering, even down to the pillow she was using. That prompted Ashley to bring her two of her own pillows.
“A simple pillow made her day!” Ashley says. After her colleague was discharged, she donated the two pillows to another patient who was in need. “After recognizing that a pillow could put a smile on a patient’s face, I developed the “Pick-Me-Up-Pillow” fundraiser in hopes that every patient could have the same opportunity to have a comfortable pillow while fighting COVID-19,” she says.
“We often say that the little things make the biggest difference,” Ashley says. Ashley’s fundraiser has raised $5,000, enabling her to purchase 1,200+ pillows that were delivered to Lenox Hill Hospital patients. “This initiative has made me feel proud. This is something that I was personally able to accomplish because of the generosity of others,” Ashley says.
Ashley’s work embodies the Truly Compassionate care that Northwell values. “The outpouring of support our community has shown during this time has been so valued by the Northwell staff. The endless food donations, the letters of encouragement, the 7 PM clap has truly helped to motivate and inspire our team,” says Ashley.
Ashley is a healthcare hero, showcasing her willingness to go above and beyond for our patients. Are you Made for nursing careers? Join our team of heroes.
Marianna Vasquez, MSN, RN, NE-BCI, began her Northwell Health career at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC) as a medical/surgical registered nurse. From there she grew her skills, both clinically by working as an ICU/CCU nurse, and as a leader. At LIJMC, Marianna felt empowered as a nurse to embrace her leadership skills and encouraged to develop as she progressed from assistant nurse manager to nurse manager and into director roles.
Through the years, she oversaw multiple areas of specialty, which gave her the confidence and knowledge to be ready for the next opportunity. She became Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) of Plainview Hospital in 1998, and added the title ofCNO of Syosset Hospital in 2003. As CNO of both hospitals, Marianna continues the Northwell spirit of empowering her nurses, “To this day, I learn something new daily and am always inspired by our staff.”
Read more from our CNO Corner interview with Marianna.
1. What makes working in a community hospital unique?
Having many years of experience in a tertiary hospital, I thought the community hospital might present different opportunities and challenges. Both were true! Our connection to the community and each other is tangible. Many of the staff feel like family, and in a smaller community setting everyone knows your name. Many of our team members are also members of our community, so Plainview or Syosset Hospital is their family’s hospital.
2. What exciting initiatives are planned for Plainview and Syosset Hospitals in 2020 and beyond?
Plainview and Syosset Hospitals are currently on the Magnet® journey. Creating a healthy work environment where staff can be empowered to achieve their professional goals is part of the Patient Care Services strategic plan. Through frontline leadership at the bedside initiating and driving practice change, our nurses as well as our patients and their families benefit.
In 2021, we are also anticipating the opening of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Plainview Hospital. Construction and planning is underway currently and positions have been posted internally for ED and Critical Care nurses to apply. As part of their transition, these nurses will undergo 16 weeks of education to prepare for our first cases. This is an example of how staff have career mobility while remaining at a community hospital. The entire hospital is energized by the Cath Lab opening, and the ICU, ED and eventually telemetry services will be impacted by the new program.
Syosset Hospital continues to provide world class orthopedic care and they are Joint Commission certified in knee, hip and spine surgery. These achievements exemplify the high level of excellent care provided at Syosset Hospital.
3. What are some ways nurses at Plainview and Syosset Hospitals have gone above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Plainview and Syosset Hospital nurses are “Made for this” and the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic has only shined a spotlight on essential workers. We’ve seen our nurses demonstrate their caring, compassionate and competent care like never before. Regardless of how weary they might be, they still rally for their colleagues and patients. Some nurses have also taken the time to connect patients and families via FaceTime, which is an especially vital form of communication with visitors currently not allowed at the hospitals.
4. How do Plainview and Syosset Hospitals support their team in growth and development?
Northwell Health has two great resources: The Institute for Nursing and the Center for Learning and Innovation. These institutions offer orientation and new programs on getting education for self-development. In addition, team members receive continuing education days to utilize for conferences and online learning. Plainview and Syosset Hospitals also have access to our own on-site SIM lab which we use for nursing education and in collaboration with the Medical residency staff. All of these opportunities are sought after and encourages our nurses to participate.
5. What makes Northwell Health a great place to work?
At Northwell Health, excellence has no finish line, and as a result we attract professionals who are committed to innovation and execution of best practices. Elevation of one’s practice to improve the life of those we serve is valued.
Written by: Cassidy Toben, Assistant Nurse Manager, Emergency Department, Lenox Hill Hospital
Northwell Health is proud to spotlight our front line health care workers. See how Northwell clinicians – doctors and nurses – are responding and working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.Read their stories here.
Cassidy Toben, RN, finds a new niche as COVID-19 forces health care workers to shift roles
As an assistant nurse manager, I’m lucky to have the opportunity to inspire and motivate our nurses and staff, really coach them through their nursing journey. And during theCOVID-19 crisis, my role has shifted, transitioning into even more administrative responsibilities.
I’m not always in the rooms with COVID patients, and there’s a sense of guilt that comes with that. Togetherness and camaraderie are built within nurses. It’s our calling — caring for another as if we are the patients we are restoring to health. Leading my team is also a calling, one that I’ve relished during this situation.
Since COVID-19 reached our doors atLenox Hill Hospital, we’ve bundled care, limiting the number of people and trips in and out of patient rooms. What you might do in a few trips, you do all at once now.
On tough days, and there have been many, one of my nurses will need me to serve as a sounding board to vent about harrowing experiences, or to cry with them about a lost patient. Being this support system is critical to their well-being. We all share the burden and have a stake in this.
I went into nursing to save lives and to help people. But, you realize quickly that you can’t save everybody. That’s really humbling.
The scariest day during this experience came at the end of March.New York was just hitting its peakand COVID-19 patients arrived at alarming rates. One patient was talking to us and seemed pretty stable. About an hour later he coded. Everybody ran to his bedside. Then about 10 minutes after that, a patient on the other side of the emergency department coded — everyone ran to that bedside.
Then a third patient needed resuscitation.
I took a step back and, while watching every one race to the bedside, thought to myself, “Wow, the teamwork here is really inspirational.” The compassion that they showed to the patients, to each other, it eased my fears that day. We have each other’s backs and we support each other. We take care of our patients and we go home. Most of us go home alone. We don’t get to hug our parents. We don’t get to see our families. So, we’re really in this together.
But worry does come over the staff. Patients begin to remind you of your family — many times you’re acting as their family, with visitation suspended in hospitals. And then you worry about your own family, and then yourself.
My first symptoms started on March 26, a curious cough that would lead into fatigue and shortness of breath. My husband and I decided it would be safer to stay together than risk exposing anybody else in my family. Still, the thought of getting him sick caused so much anxiety that I started having nightmares. I dreamt that I got him sick and he was dying, because that’s what we were seeing each day. And any health care worker can tell you that they have that exact same fear. It’s not about me. I can handle me. But I don’t want to hurt the people I love.
After two weeks of being ill, I returned to work. I still struggle to sleep, but now it’s our patients that I worry about. It’s also really rewarding to see that our staff has risen above a lot of the challenges, remaining positive at every corner. So, even on days when I’m operating on little sleep, I come into work feeling like we can succeed. We are together and we’re going to get through it.
Luckily, the situation has improved — the volume in the emergency department has slowed. People are staying home, and we’re now on the right part of the curve. Devastation has turned into hope. We’ve lost a tremendous amount, people we know, grandparents, friends. So, we must remember those who are lost and work through each day with positivity.
In a time where it’s hard not to think about yourself and your family and worry about getting sick, people are still thinking about each other here. That is just absolutely incredible. It makes it all worthwhile, providing purpose and an unrelenting desire to help another.
That’s what nursing is truly about.
Cassidy Toben, RN, is an assistant nurse manager in Lenox Hill Hospital’s emergency department.
Written by: Colleen Conaty BSN, RN-BC, Float Team, North Shore University Hospital
Behind the Mask: Working as a Float RN during the COVID-19 pandemic
Being clinical professionals, we were excited and honored to be a part of history by saving lives – but we could not have anticipated what the next weeks would bring. Though it was unlike anything we could have imagined, my team managed our small unit like champions. As the first designated unit, we were also the first to use personal protective equipment (PPE). We then used our experience to start the education process to teach others how to don and doff PPE properly. From respiratory therapists and environmental service workers to doctors and advanced clinical providers the float team was there to educate them all. We wanted to make sure each member of our North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) team would be able to fight this battle safely.
As the need for more COVID units arose, we opened our unit happily to the ICU nurses who expanded their services to care for patients. We showed them where our supplies were kept and oriented them to our unit so they could take care of the sickest patients. The float team’s challenge was then opening two brand-new units and our nurses, PCAs and CSAs, proudly came in on days off to help support our patients. Every time a manager would ask for more staff many volunteers would offer each time – all to make sure our team members weren’t going to be overwhelmed.
We are still fighting, but the most amazing thing I’ve noticed over the past weeks isn’t just the amount of lives we’ve saved, but that everyone is still smiling. My team carries on with the same smiles and laughs they’ve always had, sending each other heartfelt messages throughout the day. Come to one of our units at any time and I guarantee you’ll hear uplifting music playing from our nursing stations. You’ll find a busy nurse still making time to go room to room with an iPad, helping our patients to FaceTime their family. A few happy tears are shed when we learn a patient has been discharged or when we hear “Here Comes the Sun” play overhead, and celebrating that a patient gets to live because they won the battle – that we won the battle together.
I have never seen strength like this in my lifetime. Though these times are dark, this team has brought light into this world and shown me what it means to truly be a hero. Working aside these people has been the privilege and the honor of a lifetime. Float team, you are saving lives every single day and going through one of the hardest times, arguably of our lifetime, and you’re facing it with positivity. I am so proud of you all and so proud to call you my float family.
Born to lead, empowered to make a difference. Meet Christina, Assistant Nurse Manager in the Emergency Department
Not everyone can say they were born to do what they do, except Christina Markesinis. From the beginning, she has always felt Northwell Health was the place for her, and her career path has proved that to be true. Today, Christina is an assistant nurse manager in the Emergency Department at Glen Cove Hospital.
Her career journey at Northwell began during the summer of 2007 while still in nursing school. That’s when she participated in our Nurse Externship program in the Emergency Department at Lenox Hill Hospital. Soon after graduating, she was employed at Northwell as a new graduate nurse, participating in our Emergency Department Nurse Fellowship program at Plainview Hospital.
From 2008 to 2018, she garnered a range of experience that would not only prove to be essential to her growth as a nursing professional, but would also help define the course of her rewarding career. She gained experience working at Long Island Jewish Medical Center’s Emergency Department and at Cohen’s Children’s Center in our FlexStaff Moonlighting program. When Christina wanted to expand her nursing skills, she was encouraged to spend a year working as a registered nurse at the newly opened Lenox Health Greenwich Village’s emergency room.
“Being part of the first freestanding emergency department in New York City was truly an innovative experience,” says Christina. “Each new day was a new opportunity to continue to improve successfully, while thinking strategically. Working with such a phenomenal team taught me that success is truly a collaborative effort.”
As a result of her knowledge and experience, Christina was able to see exactly where she belonged and used it as an opportunity to empower others following a similar career path. “In all three of my bedside nursing roles, I had the pleasure of orienting new staff and new graduate nurses that have participated in the same Emergency Department Nursing Fellowship program that I did. I look at it as my way of paying it forward for the exceptional experience I was once given,” she says. With an attitude like that, she was destined to emerge as a leader.
Christina’s thankful for the opportunity that Northwell provided her, both through development programs and tuition reimbursement. In 2016, she received her Master’s in Nursing Education and soon after, in 2017, she achieved her Certification in Emergency Nursing. Christina has also been a Clinical Ladder Program recipient – a program designed to empower Northwell Health employees through self-development. “Northwell strives to encourage professional growth and achievement, providing me with learning opportunities that helped me evolve my nursing career.”
Today, as an assistant nurse manager, she is able to use what she’s learned by developing her skills through the years. “I hope to make an impact on my team by leveraging my experiences, time and passion to help them become more successful and by providing support, resources, feedback and effective leadership.”
We are fortunate to have Christina as a part of our team. “If you’re interested in how you can lead a life-long journey as an Emergency Nursing professional at Northwell Health, join Christina and other talented healthcare leaders by applying today.
Connecting with coronavirus patients, and their families
Northwell Health is proud to spotlight our front line health care workers. See how Northwell clinicians – doctors and nurses – are responding and working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read their stories here.
Nicole Fishman, RN, isn’t just caring for COVID-19 patients at Huntington Hospital, she’s helping them communicate with their families too. Hear her story.
During theCOVID-19 crisis, there’s been an even greater focus on caring for our patients as whole people in light of very limited visitation policies. They sometimes get scared having minimal contact with their friends and families. But my staff and I have been proactively calling family members and giving them updates on their loved one throughout the day. We are also using iPads and tablets to Facetime and Skype with families, so they can share their love with our patients.
When we are communicating with families through tablets, I think about my own parents and how I would want them to be treated if they were in this situation.
It’s been amazing getting so much support from throughout our hospital. All of the people are are caring for are either suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. So everyone is isolated and requires a higher level of care. We are managing this by working as a team, staying strong and supporting each other in any way that we can. As expected, we’re taking everything day by day.
Wearing all of this additional gear can make it harder to breathe, which is why we need more frequent breaks. I try to take advantage of any time away, going outside for fresh air and to clear my head.
All ofHuntington Hospital’semployees have been so appreciative of the meals that we’ve received from community donations. It’s been very helpful to not have to worry about cooking or preparing food. We can focus on what matters most — our patients.
One thing I’ve been surprised about is that younger patients — people in their 40s, 50s and 60s — are deteriorating faster than I would have anticipated. Some don’t have a past medical history of pre-existing conditions.
I’m fortunate to have a very supportive boyfriend who’s at home cooking and taking care of things while I’m out fighting COVID-19. Many of the other nurses on my unit have supportive significant others who have been writing encouraging letters and packing food for us.
When I leave work, I take several precautions in an attempt to protect my boyfriend from this dangerous virus. I change my shoes before I get into the car and shower immediately when I get home. I take all of my clothes off right by the door and throw them straight into the washing machine on a hot water setting. I feel safer being on my unit versus out in the community because we’re all wearing the proper protective gear and the unit is constantly being cleaned.
As advice from someone who has witnessed the devastation COVID-19 causes, please listen to what everyone’s saying. Stay home. Only then can people hopefully stay out of the hospital. If you don’t have to go out, please don’t.
Even though the world seems on hold right now, for health care workers it’s more like business as usual. Caring for our patients in all circumstances is what we’re made for.
Nicole Fishman, RN, is a nurse manager at Huntington Hospital.
Beyond the call of duty: answering the call to deliver care
When it comes to veterans finding careers at Northwell Health, during or after their service, the opportunities are limitless. Take Stephanie Leibman, a registered nurse at Northwell and a member of the Army Reserves. She began her journey here in 2016 and quickly discovered this was the place she was meant to be.
Starting as a patient care associate (PCA) at Glen Cove Hospital while in nursing school, Stephanie experienced an accommodating and supportive environment that encouraged her professional growth and helped her discover a different mission that she was more than ready to accept.
“My nurse manager was always very accommodating with my school schedule, and all of the nurses that I worked with were always willing to teach me what they knew,” she says. “Northwell was constantly holding career-related events which eventually helped me move from PCA to nurse.”
What she details is just an example of the programs we have available to help develop our talent. Following her transition from a PCA to a registered nurse, Stephanie first gained experience in pain management before accepting an RN position at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in the Labor and Delivery department.
Although still new to the labor and delivery team, she’s quickly made herself at home within a department she’s dreamed of since her first day of nursing school. “Even though I’ve just started in labor and delivery, I love it,” she says. “I love the friendly and helpful environment, and how there is constant learning opportunities. I love being a part of such an amazing process and assisting women and their families through it.”
Her time serving the country, functioning as a healthcare specialist, provided her with a unique skill set that easily transferred to the work we do every day at Northwell. “In the Army Reserves, I’ve received a great deal of fast-paced trauma training which I find useful every day of my career. It really helped teach me how to function in high-stress situations,” she says.
Everyone who joins our team with a passion for redefining healthcare will find many opportunities for development and career growth. Northwell’s culture has tremendous revere and admiration for our veterans and reservists who have sacrificed so much to protect and keep our country safe. As Stephanie knows, there is always a place on our team. “I’d definitely recommend other veterans and military members to work for Northwell. The organization appreciates the work we do, and is flexible to reserve/army schedules.”
My name is Melissa Black and I have worked in Oncology since I started working at Northwell’s Huntington Hospital in 2008.
When I was 15 years old, my mother lost her battle with lung cancer. Since then, becoming a nurse had always been my mission. I was truly touched by how much my mom loved and cherished her nurses – nurses who cared for her when she was a patient on the same Oncology unit where I now work all these years later. It’s like my life came full circle and I ended up exactly where I was meant to be.
My career journey with Northwell started when I was hired as a CNA. I became a unit secretary in 2010, a position I held for seven years up until I became an Oncology RN in March 2018. I consider myself so lucky to have been able to spend all 12 years growing my skills on the same unit at Huntington Hospital. Being surrounded by the Oncology teammates and managers who have been with me from the start has made my career transitions that much easier. Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program helped to lighten the financial burden as I obtained my nursing degree. The support of my colleagues and leaders throughout school was a tremendous part of my success.
I feel my experiences give me insight when I’m caring for our cancer patients since I can relate to what they are going through. By helping my patients and their families heal and cope with how cancer has affected their lives, I’ve been simultaneously helping heal myself as well.
I became a nurse because I wanted to be that sunshine in a patient’s life while they are in the hospital dealing with some of their darkest days. I wanted to be that someone the patient looked forward to seeing walk through their door, because they know I will try my best to support them through their pain, their sadness, and their fears. This has to be one of my favorite things about my job, knowing that sometimes just my mere presence plays a part in a patient’s healing. I feel lucky to be a part of a patient’s journey.
Becoming a nurse and caring for patients with cancer has made me better able to appreciate how beautiful and fragile life is. It’s a career I chose because I wanted to make a positive impact on the lives of my patients, but it’s the impact they make on MY LIFE that truly reinforces that I am exactly who I am meant to be – a nurse!
Nursing Students get a Golden Ticket to Northwell’s Nursing Showcase
The future of nursing is golden at the Northwell’s Golden Ticket Nursing Showcase! This year, more than 630 junior and senior nursing students from 50+ colleges attended to learn about Northwell’s nursing careers and culture. Our invitation-only event at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, NY is an important way to identify and engage with nursing students for New York State’s largest health system.
At the Golden Ticket Nursing Showcase, students attended presentations from Northwell’s nursing leadership to hear about our careers including our externships and fellowships, advanced careers such as becoming a nurse practitioner and the future of nursing at Northwell . Panel sessions were also held featuring previous nurse externs and current team members to allow students to ask questions and hear about their experiences.
In addition to the panels and presentations, students explored the Nursing Careers Expo and Culture Center where they could meet and interact with our registered nurses and nursing leaders and learn what makes Northwell’s culture and careers so unique. Here students also had the chance to learn about more than 23 specialties in nursing such as PeriOperative, Emergency, Critical Care, Pediatrics, Home Care, Case Management, TeleHealth, Mother/Baby and many more.
Don’t miss this inside look at what it’s like to attend the Northwell Golden Ticket Nursing Showcase in our video recap:
Combining clinical and business skills as an RN case manager
Comprehensive. Complex. Holistic. Empathetic. These are some of the words that best capture how RN case managers approach their roles as care providers at Northwell Health. As an RN case manager your responsibility is to understand and create a care plan for patients from admission through discharge that best accounts for their clinical and psychological needs.
Get to know the thoughts and experiences of two of our case managers who exemplify the kinds of career journey our clinicians can pursue here at Northwell Health. Jennifer Taglich, RN MSN MPH CPN, is an RN Case Manager at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. Initially hired as a bedside nurse, Jennifer was attracted to her current role for its diversity and cross discipline impact.
Heather Gordon, RN BSN CCM, serves as the Director of the Case Management Department at Staten Island University Hospital. Her career here began at North Shore University Hospital as a neonatal ICU nurse and, then she went on to work in pediatric oncology. When she was offered the position as a pediatric home care discharge planner, she embraced it for the autonomy it provided her in coordinating complex discharge activities for the pediatric specialty population.
Both Jennifer and Heather place a high value on the way that their roles helped them broaden and develop their knowledge by introducing them to new business planning, communications and patient management responsibilities.
Heather says, “I chose to work in case management because it required nursing skills along with incorporating business process into discharge planning. I had to develop business management skills and learn to strategize plans for my unique case load.”
The same was true for Jennifer who told us, “I compare it to learning a new language. While the patients remained the same, my role was completely different. It’s given me the opportunity to learn about more aspects of nursing and grow as a nurse, as well as work with intelligent and passionate nurses who I view as role models.”
Both feel that the ability to communicate and lead a team effort is essential as they collaborate care with other disciplines, remove unpredictable barriers and help the patient be ready for discharge once they receive medical clearance. Heather says “In my role I am responsible for creating plans that involve an interdisciplinary team to support our pediatric patients. It gave me the incentive to expand my knowledge, take on more challenges and complexities, and also work with a great team.”
“This role has given me the opportunity to improve my communication and teamwork skills,” says Jennifer. “You see the big picture, including how every member of the healthcare team plays a role in helping the patients feel better so that they can go home.”
From delivering care in the US Army to Zucker Hillside Hospital
Before Laren Lamonaca delivered care as an assistant nurse manager at Zucker Hillside Hospital (ZHH), he delivered care in the U.S. Army.
In the U.S. Army, Laren served as a combat medic with an LPN identifier from 2005 until 2011. It was there where his medical skills grew, exposing him to experience in the ICU/CCU. As part of the 1 First Surgical Team, Laren worked under the leadership of two doctors who work at Northwell Health.
But his time in the Army provided Laren with much more than just technical skills. “The Army taught me leadership and the importance of duty to my country, my unit and my peers,” says Laren. “It taught me that giving respect is as important as getting respect.”
After he returned from deployment, Laren went back to school to become a registered nurse to further his healthcare career. Upon graduation, he accepted a nursing position that was a mixture of emergency and behavioral health nursing.
“Behavioral health nursing found me,” says Laren. “I fell in love with the behavioral health portion of my job and was then offered a job at Zucker Hillside Hospital. The rest is history.”
Laren started his ZHH career as a staff nurse in the acute geriatric psych unit and it’s a population he still loves working with today. “The stories they share of their lives are amazing. It’s very rewarding work,” he says. “Seeing a patient go from depression back to themselves after treatment is very heart warming.”
It was while he was working as a registered nurse at ZHH that Laren’s leadership saw his potential. He was promoted to an assistant nurse manager position where he continues to deliver compassionate care while helping lead his unit, a position he’s comfortable in after being in charge of new recruits in the army.
“I would highly recommend other veterans look for positions at Northwell,” says Laren. “I love working here, the environment is great. My coworkers really care for the patients we see on a day-to-day basis and the administration team is very supportive and engaging. I cannot say enough great things about working for Northwell.”
Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program offers endless opportunities for team members
At Northwell Health, we don’t just support our team members, we invest in their careers. Our team members are the heart of everything we do, and by helping them grow, we’re helping our organization grow.
With endless opportunities to expand their careers, many of our team members benefit from our tuition reimbursement program to take their career in a different direction with a new degree or expanding their skills with continued education.
Meet two of our nurses who have made a difference in their career by going back to school with help from our tuition reimbursement program.
From Patient Care Associate to Registered Nurse: Terrance Duncan
Terrance Duncan, RN, first started his Northwell career as a patient care associate (PCA) at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in 2014. As a PCA, Terrance quickly developed his clinical skills, becoming a champion on his units to help promote best practices in rounding and mobility and a patient experience ambassador. His passion for patient care even earned him a Northwell Health Caring Heart Award.
Though he loved being a PCA, Terrance knew that he wanted to continue his work with patients while expanding his own knowledge. “I wanted to become a nurse because I love that as a nurse I could work in many different career specialties.”
With the support of Northwell’s tuition reimbursement, Terrance went back to school and earned his BSN while continuing to work as a PCA. “Northwell has supported me tremendously throughout my nursing career,” says Terrance. “My nurse manager was very supportive working with my school schedule while the tuition reimbursement program helped me financially.”
Terrance graduated from nursing school in 2019 and accepted a position as a Medical/Surgical nurse at North Shore University Hospital where he continues to deliver compassionate care to his patients.
From Nurse Extern to Senior Clinical Appeals RN: Mariel Hughes
Since starting her nursing career as a nurse extern at Zucker Hillside Hospital in 2014, Mariel Hughes, MSN, RN-BC, has grown her passion for nursing. After graduating from nursing school, Mariel started as a Medical/Surgical registered nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC). In 2018, she was promoted to become a Medical/Surgical assistant nurse manager at LIJMC.
As a nurse, Mariel joined the Collaborative Care Council at LIJMC and eventually became co-chair. The Collaborative Care Council builds interdisciplinary relationships among care teams and lets nurses like Mariel have a voice in the decision-making of the hospital. It was in those years as co-chair that Mariel discovered where she wanted her career to grow. “While in this role I really found a love for leadership–being able to advocate for my fellow colleagues and finding fun and interesting ways to improve our overall work environment as a team,” says Mariel. “Once becoming an assistant nurse manager, I had the foundation I needed to continue my education in order to become a great leader.”
Mariel returned to school and graduated in 2019 from Capella University with her Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Administration and Leadership. “Through Northwell I was able to utilize tuition reimbursement which covered 95% of my entire master’s program! I definitely would have not been able to further my education due to the financial burden if it was not for Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program!”
Using her newly developed skillset, Mariel is able to deliver a different kind of care as a senior clinical appeals RN in the Centralized Denial Office. Working within the Centralized Denial Office means Mariel’s job includes writing appeal letters to insurance companies who deny medical coverage for patients who required a hospital admission.
“My favorite thing about being a nurse is being someone’s support system, whether it be physically, emotionally, mentally or even financially now that I work in appeals,” says Mariel. “It is one of the greatest feelings in the world when you make the slightest difference in someone’s day or life that they can carry on with them.”
When it comes to delivering care at home, there are several career opportunities available. In addition to providing clinical home care visits, nurses can also work as home care registered nurse liaisons, which is a vital role that helps our patients understand how to prepare for their path to recovery before they leave the hospital.
What does a career as a home care RN liaison entail?
These nurses meet with patients and their families to explain the different types of care and services Northwell offers to help patients recover once they leave the hospital. They also coordinate with the facilities and Northwell Health at Home to schedule visits and to ensure the patient has a smooth transition from care in our hospitals to care at home.
This unique nursing position lets nurses enjoy autonomy while still getting a lot of time with patients. “I’ve been with Northwell since 2012 and have flourished in this position ever since,” says Madeleine Cotroneo, a home care RN liaison with Northwell Health at Home. “With over 15 years of home care experience, I was looking to utilize my experience to help influence and evolve the patient’s transition from the hospital to their home and step away from bedside care.”
And as a home care RN liaison, nurses like Madeleine are able to do just that. Some of their day-to-day responsibilities include:
Assessing the patient to recommend the appropriate services
Communicating with doctors, therapy staff, social workers, and other healthcare professionals to better understand the patient’s needs
Explaining the options for services to the patient and family
Speaking to the physician to ensure continuity of care
“Speaking with the patients and their families is my favorite part of the job,” says Candie Decker, home care RN liaison. “Transitioning home after a hospital and rehab stay can be scary for the patients and their families. I like to think I assist with a smooth transition and put their minds at ease.”
Other advantages of the job? Home care RN liaisons work at multiple locations within a region, allowing them to meet and connect with different people. Following a traditional work week also guarantees them weekends off to spend time with their family and friends.
As a registered nurse for 25 years, Candie has found working in home care to be the most rewarding, especially her current position: “I highly recommend a RN liaison position to any nurse who enjoys working directly with people and who wants to make a difference in the lives of their patients.”
The important role of our Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
The role of a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is an invaluable part of our patient care teams. These advanced practice nurses work to safely administer anesthetics to patients during surgical cases. Whether they’re delivering anesthesia inside hospitals, private practices or specialty offices, CRNAs enjoy autonomy in their professional roles.
At Northwell Health, we know the important role our CRNAs play alongside surgeons and anesthesiologists. This Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Week we talked with two of our very own CRNAs to hear about their careers and the impact they’re making every day here at Northwell!
Meet Sally Caldwell, CRNA, Lenox Hill Hospital
Sally Caldwell is a CRNA at Lenox Hill Hospital who pursued her certification after working as a registered nurse. It was her time in the ICU where she realized she wanted to be in an advanced practice nursing specialty. This background in critical care helped her throughout her extensive training and education to become a CRNA.
As a CRNA, she enjoys being able to care for one patient at a time as well as the additional responsibilities including administering medications, monitoring patients during surgery, and making sure patients are comfortable and safe after surgery.
“I love being a CRNA at Northwell because working here allows me the opportunity to provide top-quality patient care, and that’s something I’m proud of,” she says. “With Northwell I get to work with a great group of providers, from the surgeons and anesthesiologists to the nursing staff. CRNAs are a valued part of the anesthesia team here, so that makes me feel good about what I do.”
Meet Marianne Goodnight, Chief Nurse Anesthetist, Northwell Health Anesthesia
Marianne Goodnight currently works as the chief nurse anesthetist at Northwell Health Anesthesia. There, the CRNA team provides all types of anesthesia services to hospitals and surgicenters in Westchester County, Rockland County, Orange County, as well as New Jersey.
It was early in her nursing career that Marianne fell in love with critical care, learning everything she could about one patient and using all of her nursing knowledge and skills to ensure they received the best care possible. When she made the decision to further her critical care nursing education, it was her husband, a surgical resident at the time, who encouraged her to go to the operating room and meet the CRNAs.
Observing them in their day-to-day practice started her love for a career that has only grown. She enjoys that CRNAs must use interpersonal skills alongside their knowledge of medicine, pharmacology, and clinical skills.
“Our CRNAs at Northwell are highly trained, experienced anesthesia providers, who are very supportive of one another. I feel very blessed and grateful to have had such a wonderful team throughout my years here,” says Marianne. “Our CRNAS and anesthesiologists are a very cohesive team, working very hard every day for the same goal: to provide our patients with the safest and best anesthesia care. I encourage CRNAS to take a look at our exciting practice!”
Six reasons why an operating room fellowship could be right for you
Are you a new BSN graduate or experienced RN looking to take your career to the next level in the operating room? A periOperative fellowship could be a great way to gain the skills, experience, and confidence you need to be successful. Our six-month program combines lectures, workshops, independent study, role-playing, case scenarios, and simulation – all while providing hands-on experience in the OR.
Here are six ways our fellowship program can be instrumental in advancing the careers of truly ambitious nurses. You will:
1. Gain training not taught in nursing schools.
The operating room is different from just about any other environment and it is not typically part of the curriculum provided by most nursing schools.
“It is such a different atmosphere than what most nurses have been exposed to, and with little coverage of the OR in nursing schools, everything is new and different,” says Robyn Murray, an operating room registered nurse at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) who went through the fellowship herself. “I would definitely recommend the fellowship to nurses so they can build a strong foundation.”
2. Promote the nurse’s role as patient advocate.
Our fellowships help you build confidence as a key member of the interdisciplinary team. You will be better prepared to speak on behalf of the patient.
“The biggest lesson I learned during my OR fellowship was to always speak up and advocate for the patient,” says Kristi Troha, a registered nurse in the OR at Southside Hospital. “Northwell offers an unbelievable opportunity that has shaped my career and I am so thankful for it.”
3. Better understand the importance of teamwork.
You will master the ability to develop and manage relationships with staff with all different skills and personalities. We’re all a team in the OR!
Today Marisa Baccarella is an assistant nurse manager for the OR at Long Island Jewish Medical Center but she fell in love with periOperative teamwork during her fellowship: “I love the teamwork aspect of the operating room. You get to work with a large interdisciplinary team made up of surgeons, anesthesiologists, CRNAs, surgical techs, and periOperative assistants. You’re all working together very closely to take care of a patient.”
4. Acquire the essential skills for successful patient outcomes.
Because the OR is fast-paced and ever-changing, it’s important to have the hands-on skills needed to be successful. We will teach you everything you need to know, including surgical counts, sterility procedures, patient positioning and more.
“I think the fellowship is the best transition for a nurse to start a career in the OR,” says Kerri Robertson, an OR nurse at NSUH. “After completing the didactic and hands-on parts of the program, I was confident to circulate and scrub during surgery.”
Nina Stoia, an OR registered nurse at Peconic Bay Medical Center
5. Work on diverse cases.
Our fellowships give you a thorough and comprehensive orientation to the OR. You will have the opportunity to learn every service line, including both the adult and pediatric populations.
Nina Stoia, a registered nurse in the OR at Peconic Bay Medical Center, also completed a periOperative fellowship with Northwell. She says, “My favorite thing about working in the operating room is the diversity of cases I take part in. Whether it be a total knee arthroplasty, a cataract extraction, or a robotic hernia repair; they all positively impact an individual’s quality of life.”
6. Gain a strong foundation for continued growth.
Whether you are just beginning your nursing career or looking to advance it, Northwell’s periOperative fellowship program provides an excellent foundation to build upon.
“Be patient with your learning,” advises Michael Alvarez, a registered nurse first assistant in the OR at NSUH. “We learn very little about the OR in school and the OR environment is like no other.”
Are you Made for an opportunity like this?
The next step in your career is up to you! To learn more about being a part of our fellowship programs, click here.
When Marybeth McManus, MPA, BSN, RN-BC started her career at Northwell Health it was a staff nurse at Zucker Hillside Hospital (ZHH). As her career at ZHH grew, Marybeth played an active role in the American Psychiatric Nurses Association where she is currently president of the New York Chapter. Her experiences at ZHH and beyond serve her well in her current role as chief nursing officer (CNO) of ZHH.
Throughout her career, Marybeth’s focus has always been on the destigmatization of mental illness and the development of a therapeutic healing environment for our patients and a healthy working environment for staff.
“The Zucker Hillside Hospital nursing staff is making a positive difference in advancing the mental health of our community,” she says. “To that end it is my priority to support our staff in providing the highest quality care with respect, kindness, and compassion.”
Read more from our CNO Corner interview with Marybeth.
What is one thing you wish people knew about being a behavioral health nurse?
Behavioral health nursing is a profession of the heart. Behavioral health nurses care for patients who have faced trauma and stigma, who are struggling to have their own voice and are particularly vulnerable. ZHH nurses care for the whole patient; their assessments include not just patients’ mental disorders, emotions and social interactions, but also their medical needs. Behavioral health nurses must have particularly astute assessment and critical thinking skills to observe and intervene in the early stages of a crisis and help patients who are struggling to stay in control. They must also use those same skills to identify changes in a patient’s presentation or mental status, which are often subtle signs and symptoms that are indicative of an evolving medical complication. Behavioral health nurses need to manage not just individual patients, but also the therapeutic milieu. ZHH nurses excel on person-to-person connections and instilling hope for patients on their journey to recovery. Patients and their families’ lives are better because of psychiatric nurses.
What exciting nursing initiatives are happening at Zucker Hillside Hospital?
Nursing at ZHH is trauma-informed, evidence-based and collaborative with many disciplines. Our nurses have participated in educational efforts to better care for their particular population. For example, our nurses on the Women’s Unit trained at LIJ Medical Center’s Labor & Deliveryunit to learn more about the signs and symptoms of labor and impending birth, as well as post-partum care. Many were trained as childbirth educators and lactation nurses as well to support our perinatal patients. ZHH is the only psychiatric free-standing NICHE designated hospital. Our two geriatric units have embraced the NICHE program, and many of the nurses are certified in gerontology by the ANCC and are NICHE geriatric resource nurses.
Our nurses on the adolescent and college units have been trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and our nurses on an adult unit are being trained in Cognitive Behavior Therapy-Recovery Based. In an effort to advance the patient experience, nurses have taken the lead on self-care initiatives including hiring a cosmetologist to help our patients feel better about their personal appearance. Other patient experience initiatives include the development of a spirituality program for patients and staff under the direction of our newly hired chaplain, coordination with the dietary department to improve the quality and choice of meals for our patients, pet therapy, art therapy, music therapy, as well as the initiation of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on the inpatient service.
In addition to improving the experience of patients at ZHH, the Patient Experience Committee also addresses the needs of the staff in order to promote wellness and avoid burn out. Staff wellness programs offer holistic opportunities including reiki, healing crystals and essential oils, as well as their very own “Puppy Love” pet therapy day.
What makes working at Zucker Hillside Hospital unique?
The staff at ZHH are truly “Made for this.” It’s a calling to dedicate your life to the care of the mentally ill, and throughout the hospital you can feel the spirit of dedication, empathy, professionalism and love for our patients and their families. Workforce engagement scores are among the highest in Northwell, and the nursing score of 4.21 is above the national average. Our nursing satisfaction scores on the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators showed that the majority of our units outperform the national average most times and all of our nursing units are either a Tier 1 or 2. Safety is paramount at ZHH; our quality measures improve annually and in 2019 we were very proud to report a 22% decrease in falls compared to 2018. Our falls with injury rate decreased by 78%, patient-to-patient and patient-to-staff aggression both decreased by 32%, and our seclusion minutes were reduced by 27%. These metrics speak for themselves; our staff is engaged, skilled and making a positive impact on our patients and their families.
What makes Northwell a great place to work?
Northwell provides outstanding opportunities for professional growth and advancement, including the Center for Learning and Innovation, encouragement for advanced degrees, leadership development programs, and the Nursing Mentorship Program and the Nurse Residency Program. I have benefited from numerous strong leaders and mentors at Northwell and am so proud to work for a health system that prioritizes the care of patients with mental illnesses!
My first year: what it takes to be a nurse practitioner
The road from nurse to nurse practitioner (NP) presents new and exciting challenges, from managing complex care on a new team and oftentimes, working in a new environment. Taking this new path involves stepping outside your comfort zone to follow your passion.
In recognition of National NP Week, we spoke with NPs across our hospitals to get a look inside their journey thus far, including lessons learned and how they’re continuing to grow and develop as an NP.
It involves teamwork
As a new NP graduate, it’s important to communicate effectively with other clinicians on the care team – that includes not being afraid to ask questions and providing support to one another. Scott Snorteland, FNP-BC, from North Shore University Hospital feels a support system is crucial to a smooth transition into the role. “Without the help of my supervisor and my colleagues, I don’t know how I would have gotten through the first month. Teamwork is crucial to your role as an NP,” says Scott.
Merin Jacob, MS, ANP-C, who works in Employee Health Services (EHS) for Lenox Hill Hospital believes teamwork is most effective when you’re working with likeminded people. “Working in healthcare, we all have the same goal – to better the health of our patients and take care of each other. It’s important to put their safety and health first, and it makes it easier when you’re surrounded by those likeminded people who have the same goal in mind as you.”
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
When you’re faced with new responsibilities and a new work environment, it can be overwhelming. However, it’s important to get past your insecurities, stay positive and be able to accept those new challenges. Meghan Billia, MS, FNP-C, who practices palliative care at Huntington Hospital found having a mentor helped her get through the first couple of months. “It’s so important to have people to go to and ask for advice or bounce ideas off of. My mentor, Nanci Berg, NP-C, was that person for me and really helped me through that transition period.”
A new challenge can also be exciting. Scott went from an RN in pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center to now working with adults as a family nurse practitioner in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. “I knew going into this role that it was going to be challenging for me, but that’s partly why I took it. Getting out of your comfort zone and overcoming your fears is how you continue to grow.”
It’s more than clinical work, it’s about making connections
As a NP, making connections with your patients goes far beyond the bedside. You follow patients through a continuum of care – from 1:1 consults in an outpatient office to an inpatient stay, through discharge and back for follow-ups – it goes full circle. You build a sense of trust with your patients and it makes caring for them that more efficient.
Merin says working as an NP in EHS makes her feel like she’s part of a small community. “I spend time talking and building relationships with my patients because I know they may need to come back for follow-ups or new needs. You build a sense of trust with them and it’s a continuity of care outside the walls of the exam room that really makes a difference.”
Continue to grow
Every time you treat a patient, you’re faced with another opportunity to sharpen what you’ve learned. And ongoing education is crucial to being a successful advanced clinical provider. Scott, now seven weeks into his role as an NP, says he’s learned so much and is looking forward to continuing to intellectually challenge himself and advance his career.
“I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned from my first week as an NP to now. Going back to school provided me with the foundation I needed, but it always comes down to the hands-on experience. I’m still learning, and I’m OK with that because it’s how I’ll continue to reach my goals.”
Becoming an NP doesn’t just happen overnight or in orientation, recalls Tova Miller, AGACNP-BC, who practices internal medicine at Forest Hills Hospital. “It’s about understanding what you don’t know and utilizing what you do know. Being confident and continuing to learn helps you understand why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Let your passion guide you
The hardest days can often leave the greatest impact on your career. It makes you remember why you made the choice to transition into an advanced role and challenge yourself to continue to do better.
“I feel that I’m really making a difference,” says Tova. “I make sure our patients are receiving the best patient care and it’s my goal to get them out of the hospital as soon as possible, and be safe while doing so. As an NP, I know I’m making a positive impact on peoples’ lives and it brings me happiness when I know I’ve done something to improve their quality of life.”
Making the transition is something you have to be ready for, according to Scott. “As challenging as it is some days, it’s equally rewarding. As nurse practitioners, we’re here to be role models and pave the way for higher education for other nurses. I’m excited I took this leap to advance my career and I hope others take the opportunity to do so.”
Investing in the future of nursing with our Nurse Extern Program
Our Nurse Extern Program is providing junior BSN students with a unique experience at the bedside within a Northwell Health hospital. Every summer, selected nursing students have the opportunity to participate in our rewarding eight-week paid program. Guided by preceptors, these future nurses develop a strong skill set all while strengthening their passion for delivering care.
This unique experience is a powerful stepping stone for nursing students. Nurse externs spend their program shadowing nurses to see first-hand what it’s like to work in a hospital setting. By introducing them to specialties they won’t see in their clinical rotations, such as the operating room, students enter their senior year with more confidence and a better understanding of which specialty they want to develop their career in.
Beyond learning how to deliver bedside care, students participate in educational in-services presented by our nurse educators and leadership, while building lasting relationships with their peers. Externs also work together to complete a final project to present to nursing leadership at the end of their program.
The 2019 program hosted 91 nurse externs at 15 hospitals in over seven specialties, a 30% increase in nurse externs since 2018.With the growth of our program, more students are able to gain an invaluable foundation to build their nursing career.
Hear from 2019’s summer Nurse Externs on why they loved our Nurse Extern Program:
University of Michigan
“Not only did Northwell’s externship program provide me with the tools to enhance essential nursing skills, but it also allowed me to understand that the smallest act of caring is the true vulnerability of nursing.”
“This summer I had the opportunity to work as an extern in the OR. In just eight short weeks, I learned more than I ever thought possible through both my time on the floor and educational sessions. Every aspect of this program fostered my growth as a nursing student, and it was truly an invaluable experience.”
St. Joseph’s College
“My externship was the most informative eight weeks of nursing knowledge and practice that I have experienced thus far in my career. The Southside Hospital nurse educators and staff provided me with education, engaging experiences and knowledge that I will utilize throughout my entire nursing career.”
“This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. You not only gain experience in both clinical practice and critical thinking, but you also get to form a relationship with your preceptor who quickly becomes an incredible mentor and role model. I was able to learn the intricate inner workings of what life is like being a bedside nurse on the floor.”
Eizle Bianca Salonga,
“My experience in the OR externship at Long Island Jewish Medical Centeris truly unforgettable. The action I’ve seen, the knowledge I’ve gained, and the confidence I developed is unparalleled to all my clinical rotations combined. The staff also welcomed me with open arms since day one and I truly felt like I was a part of the team.”
“My experience at Zucker Hillside Hospital as a nurse extern was extremely rewarding. This program has given me added confidence in my nursing abilities as I enter my senior year at Villanova University.”
“This was an amazing opportunity that will not be forgotten. Every day I learned something new as I worked hands-on with my preceptor. I gained so much knowledge, critical thinking skills, and imperative lessons that will help me excel as a future registered nurse.”
Sacred Heart University
“The Nurse Extern Program not only provided me with the tools to succeed but guided me along the way. I received hands-on experience, which allowed me to utilize the skills I’ve learned with the support from an amazing preceptor. I will take this with me throughout my nursing career.”
Mount Saint Mary College
“My experience this summer boosted my confidence and provided me with countless learning opportunities. As I progressed through my eight weeks I adapted, gained confidence and saw what nursing really is. This experience introduced me to an amazing hospital staff who enhanced my clinical skills.”
“My externship will forever have an impact on the way I approach my career in nursing. For eight weeks in the Pediatric ICU I worked alongside the most welcoming preceptors. Not only has this increased my clinical and practical experience and confidence, but it has shown me the true importance of caring for families, in both good times and in bad.”
“This program not only made me a better nurse but a better person. With the entire staff wanting to help and teach you everything they know. I am so lucky I was able to spend this summer working in the emergency program at Northern Westchester Hospital.”
Saint Joseph’s College
“The externship program allowed me to further build up my nursing skills. It taught me time management and efficiency. This program proved to me why I love nursing so much. Getting to do what I love at an earlier stage encouraged me to keep learning and do my best for the people I will caring for in the future.”
“The externship allowed me to build myself as a professional and prepare for employment following graduation. I have this externship to thank for skills I was able to develop this summer, and hope to return to Northwell as a registered nurse.”
“I had an amazing opportunity as an extern working with fantastic nurses in the PACU. This program has helped me gain lifelong knowledge and confidence in my skills, how I care for my patients, and my communication with other healthcare professionals. I feel so much more confident entering my senior year of nursing school.”
“Working as an extern in the OR I got to learn what it was like to connect with patients and help them stay relaxed during their procedures. The staff was super welcoming and made my learning experience so great. I felt confident walking away with the knowledge I’ve gained and the new skills I’ve learned. ”
Faces of Oncology Care: Northwell Health Cancer Institute Research Nurses
As one of the largest cancer programs in the New York metropolitan area, the Northwell Health Cancer Institute treats more New Yorkers for cancer than any other health care provider. With the trust of so many, our oncology team members work passionately to help patients thrive.
Unique partnerships such as with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, help this goal as Northwell’s research nurses have the opportunity to work on innovative clinical trials that provide patients with the most promising treatments. And beyond just providing care, their compassion is changing the lives of our patients and their families.
Meet some of our inspiring research nurses below and hear what makes them passionate about oncology research.
Having worked at Northwell Health since 1987, Diane has been a registered nurse in various specialties including post-partum, nursery, medical/surgical, telemetry, and cardiovascular.
But Diane’s interest in clinical research was always in oncology research. “I lost my oldest sister to cancer when I was 12 years old. I witnessed firsthand the impact a cancer diagnosis can have on an entire family. The respect and dignity that was shown to my sister and our family still resonates within me to this day,” says Diane. “That is what inspired me to become a nurse and Northwell Health enabled me to fulfill my dream including earning my bachelor’s degree in 2016.”
This passion for oncology care has only strengthened since she’s become a research nurse “I love working in oncology because each day I have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. I come to work knowing that inside this building we have the ability to change lives forever through clinical research. Clinical research is important because it works to find better ways to prevent, detect, or treat cancer and learn new approaches to therapy.”
Beyond just the clinical trials that Diane works on every day to help improve the lives of patients with cancer, she is also a leadership committee member for the Long Island chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC). Through her volunteering, Diane is very active in helping spread awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer with the hope to empower women to advocate for their own health.
Her commitment to research, care and education have not gone unnoticed. In 2017 she was recognized as an NOCC Nurse Honoree as well as being recognized as the Northwell Health Clinical Research Nurse of the Year in 2018. But for Diane, it’s very rewarding seeing the impact her work has on patients.
“I look forward to seeing my patients and their families share their life stories. Seeing them celebrate milestones in their lives and knowing it is because they are in a clinical trial is a gift to me.”
Julia started her Northwell nursing career at Monter Cancer Center where she worked as an oncology research nurse on the solid tumor team. In 2017, she transitioned into a new role as a phase 1 research nurse where she cares for patients that are being treated for the first time in their trials.
Julia started as a rehabilitation nurse caring for a large number of oncology patients, and thought her skills could transition into another area of nursing. “I felt that there was something larger out there to fulfill my curiosity and desire in healthcare. Oncology is continuously changing with respect to knowledge, learning, research, treatments and opportunities,” says Julia. “I felt that this field could feed my curiosity and at the same time satisfy my desire to help my patients.”
As an oncology research nurse, Julia is always looking for new and improved treatments with a commitment to helping enhance her patient’s quality of life. In her position, Julia is able to work with innovative treatment modalities and drug combinations that have not been tried yet. “It’s very exciting and rewarding knowing that I am part of creating history.”
And her passion extends beyond research – just a few short months after starting at Northwell, she was awarded with the Patient Recognition Star. “This recognition demonstrated that even the smallest thing we do for our patients means a lot to them,” says Julia.
After receiving her Master of Science in Nursing, Shirley started her clinical research career at Northwell in 2003 initially, as a clinical research nurse practitioner in pulmonary medicine.
In 2015 Shirley returned to research and today is a clinical research nurse for the Breast/GYN Research team at Monter Cancer Center (MCC). “My mother was a breast cancer survivor and I felt this position would allow me to add a very personal touch to the clinical aspect of my job when working with and caring for patients and families,” says Shirley. “Having the privilege to participate in another person’s healthcare journey motivates me to deliver the best patient care. My mother’s journey with breast cancer reminds me that my actions can have a powerful impact on the lives of a patient and their family during an emotionally stressful time.”
Her dedication, ability to establish deep therapeutic bonds and empathize with patients was recognized when Shirley was awarded the 2017 Northwell Care Award during MCC’s patient experience week. Shirley was also invited to be a mentor in the Northwell Health Clinical Research Professional Mentorship program.
Shirley enjoys working as a clinical research nurse and because of the role’s versatility, she is able to represent Northwell Health as a member of the Symptom Intervention Committee for the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology national group and also conducts breast cancer awareness information sessions in the community.
When she first started in oncology, Shirley met a patient who changed her life: “When I met the patient and her husband, she shared her personal wish, which made me feel honored to be taking part in her care. She was determined to live long enough to see her son go to his prom.” This instant connection Shirley had with her patient strengthened her passion and with each study visit, Shirley and her patient became closer and developed a bond.
“The most memorable part of her treatment was when she came in and showed me the pictures of her son’s prom,” says Shirley. “She beamed with delight as she told me how she helped her son get ready for the big night. I was overcome with a sense of joy and satisfaction knowing I had been a part of helping her achieve this goal. My role in clinical trials research had given this patient hope. I will never forget her and can never thank her enough because this patient and my mother represent that even just one moment can matter.”
Shirley says “the possibilities are endless as a clinical research nurse” and looks forward to what the future has to offer at Northwell.
Against the odds: A nurse’s journey to working at LIJ Medical Center after beating cancer
When Nicole Rivera, RN, was diagnosed with cancer at six years old, she was given only a 10% chance of living. Despite these odds, Nicole’s battle with cancer ended in triumph. “I kicked cancer’s butt and to this day, I remain in remission – 18 years and counting,” says Nicole. “Cancer took my right leg but not my life.”
It was her experience fighting cancer that inspired Nicole to become a nurse and ultimately lead her to her career at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. “I wanted to become a nurse after having amazing nurses help care for me as I fought cancer in one of the hardest battles of my life,” says Nicole. Today Nicole works as a cardiothoracic/surgical oncology step-down nurse where she finds her experience gives her a special relationship with her patients.
“My history has made me a stronger and better nurse because I know how it feels to be on the other side of things,” says Nicole. “I know what it feels like being that patient in bed feeling despaired. My story has allowed me to connect with patients on a deeper level.”
Overcoming the challenges she has had to face, including wearing an above-knee prosthetic, has reminded Nicole of the importance of remaining grounded in life and as a nurse. “It’s important to stay humble and never take health for granted. Every day we see people complain over the little things in life, while there are people out there fighting for their life.”
And it’s a fight that Nicole knows firsthand she can help patients through just by being there for them. “My favorite part of being a nurse is seeing the smile on a patients face knowing I helped make a difference,” she says. “Whether it be something as simple as filling up their water, helping escort them to the restroom or providing comfort after bad news. Their smile makes it all worth it.”
It was both Nicole’s passion and her inspirational story that led to her being nominated as a 2019 New York Mets Nurse Hero. She was recognized at the New York Mets Nurses Night game as one of ten nurse heroes for their dedication to providing exceptional care for patients. Nurses received customized scrubs and got to stand on the field during the first pitch.
Throughout it all, Nicole has always known she was made for nursing, “I put my heart into my patients every day and cannot imagine being in any other profession.”