Donna Jann, RN, OCN, became an oncology nurse at Delaware County Memorial Hospital 20 years ago, inspired by her aunt who died of cancer.
“I love my work and can’t imagine doing anything else,” she says. “The rewards for an oncology nurse are different than for any other nurse because most of our patients come back to the hospital very frequently. Our rewards are caring for them through a really bad sick period, managing their care so they are free of pain, seeing them well enough to get out of the hospital and celebrating with them when they get a good diagnosis. Being part of the whole team that successfully manages a patient is such a reward.”
An active member of the Oncology Nursing Society, Jann was asked by Kathy Manuel, RN, nurse manager, to become a Magnet Ambassador for the Oncology Unit. “I was flattered by Kathy’s confidence in me to serve as a positive force as we pursue the Magnet designation,” says Jann, who is certified in oncology and chemotherapy and serves as a mentor to most new nurses who come on the unit. “DCMH is a great hospital. I believe that we’ve already achieved Magnet status in terms of our accomplishments. Now we need to be officially recognized for the good work we do along with the other Crozer-Keystone hospitals. Magnet is definitely the best way to achieve the recognition we deserve while benefiting our nurses and hospitals.”
Jann notes that the nurses on her unit already see the benefits of Magnet initiatives such as the Unit Council. “We have a voice and we can change the way we do things,” she says. “During the past year, we’ve started self-scheduling, which our nurses consider a huge advantage. As these kinds of changes emerge, our nurses understand more fully how pursuing Magnet can make a great hospital even better.”
Christine Keating, RN, spent four months last year preparing for the four-hour med/surg certification exam. Proud that her hard work paid off, she is now certified as a med/surg nurse on Taylor Hospital’s 2A Unit. As a preceptor for new nurses, Keating believes that it’s important to pursue certification and other professional development opportunities. “We need to demonstrate that we are truly experts at what we do,” she says. “I love teaching new nurses and my certification enables me to be an even better preceptor.”
Keating began her nursing career in 1994 at Delaware County Memorial Hospital and has been working at Taylor since 2001. “I’ve wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a kid,” she relates. “I love taking care of patients, providing them with knowledge and helping them through hard times.”
While serving on Taylor’s Nurse Practice and Quality Councils, Keating experienced the benefits of the “Forces of Magnetism” such as organizational committee structure and shared decision making. “In Council meetings, we learn about the challenges that other units are facing and how they are practicing,” she observes. “We share advice and help each other to improve practice on our units.”
Keating sees the Unit Council as an important source of empowerment for nurses. “The Unit Council gives us a voice in how we run our units,” she says. “Since we’re the ones on the front line, it makes sense for us to address the problems we face and develop solutions.”
As Magnet Ambassador, Keating emphasizes the importance of pursuing official validation for the care provided by Crozer-Keystone nurses. “We know that we provide great care and it’s important for others to know it – our patients, our peers and the communities we serve. The Magnet designation will affirm the wonderful job that our nurses do every day.”
Mary Weldon, RN, CDE, discovered that she wanted to be a nurse when she was in seventh grade. As part of a school-sponsored community outreach program, she helped care for nuns at a nearby nursing home and found it very rewarding.
After receiving her nursing diploma in 1972, she joined Crozer-Chester Medical Center where she worked on a med/surg unit. While raising her five children, she worked as a PRN nurse until 1995 when she took a full-time position in Crozer’s Physical Rehabilitation Unit at the Elwyn Institute where she worked with patients recovering from strokes and amputations. Many of these patients had diabetes, a disease that holds special interest for Weldon because it runs in her family. In 1997, she moved to her current position in Crozer-Keystone’s Center for Diabetes at Springfield Hospital.
As a certified diabetes educator, Weldon teaches patients and their families about signs and symptoms, nutrition, medications and prevention of complications from the disease. “Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in this country,” she relates. “We conduct classes almost every week with as many as 20 in the class. Most people don’t realize what a devastating disease this is. In our classes, we strive to motivate our patients to make positive lifestyle changes that include good nutrition, increasing activity within their limits, monitoring blood sugar at home and taking prescribed medications. By adopting a healthier lifestyle, they may prevent or delay complications associated with diabetes.”
“It’s really rewarding when they come back in much better health,” adds Weldon, who also runs patient support groups. “When they’ve lost weight, have been able to stop their meds and their A1c results are better, we know we’ve made a difference.”
Currently working toward her BSN degree at Neumann College, Weldon applauds Crozer-Keystone’s journey toward Magnet designation. “Through Magnet, nurses are encouraged to continually advance their education and share their knowledge with others. I enjoy the opportunity to meet and learn from nurses at the other Crozer-Keystone hospitals and contribute to their knowledge base. The more you know the better care you can provide to your patients.”
A member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, Weldon also shares her knowledge with the community by participating at health fairs and making presentations on diabetes at local senior centers.
Lisa Willis, RN, BSN, is committed to using her nursing skills to improve the health of the local community. Community service is central to her life philosophy as well as one of the 14 Forces of Magnetism. Over the past five years, she has initiated a parish nursing program at her church, Notre Dame de Lourdes in Swarthmore, and provided support to other nurses seeking to begin programs in other local churches. “Parish nursing enables me to link my nursing skills with my spiritual side,” says Willis, a 21-year veteran of Crozer-Chester Medical Center who is a staff nurse on the 2N Intermediate Care Unit.
Currently pursuing her master’s degree in nursing education at Villanova University, Willis became involved as an undergraduate student with the Unity Clinic, a free medical clinic for the needy and uninsured in South Philadelphia that also serves as a clinical instruction site for Villanova nursing students. Since the clinic primarily serves Indonesian individuals who speak very little English, Willis took the initiative to develop the first patient education materials in both English and Indonesian. She also advocated for tuberculosis testing at the clinic and, through her brother, obtained a free supply of TB screening agent from a pharmaceutical company. She continues to volunteer at the clinic, which is sponsored by the Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor.
“I have learned a lot about barriers to healthcare through this experience,” Willis reflects. “It is rewarding to see the positive impact that we are making on people’s health. The line from the Prayer of St. Francis is true: ‘In giving of ourselves, we receive.’”
At Crozer, Willis serves as a clinical instructor for Harcum College nursing students and as a mentor for new nurses. “I enjoy helping new graduates make the transition from nursing school to the floor,” she says. “By providing support and advice, we can help to retain them.”
Willis is excited about her role as a Magnet Ambassador. “The Magnet journey will provide more autonomy for our nurses, involve them in decision making and give them a greater sense of ownership and pride in their work,” she emphasizes. “We know that hospitals that have achieved Magnet status have more satisfied nurses and patients. For me, it’s both rewarding and challenging to serve as a resource to our unit, providing education and helping the nurses to more fully understand the many benefits of Magnet.”