Program Prepares New BSNs for a Successful Debut
It’s been more than four decades since the VNA expanded to include certified home health aides, rehabilitation therapy, social worker and dietician visits and other related services. However, visiting nurses remain at the center of its home care model. In fact, while each client is “the star” of their interactions with the VNA, the nurse is the equivalent of the director.
A Complex Case Management Role
Visiting nurses are responsible for coordinating the efforts of all VNA team members, communicating with their patients’ physicians, training patients and caregivers in self-care techniques and ensuring that all needs are met. To fill those pivotal case manager positions, the VNA has turned to a group of nurses that many might initially find surprising: recent graduates of four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs.
“Visiting nursing requires the ability to work independently and take charge. That can be a difficult transition for some experienced RNs who are accustomed to working in a hospital setting surrounded by doctors and other nurses,” explained Lisa Salamone, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “We’ve found that some new
BSNs have the core clinical, communication and administrative skills required to succeed as visiting nurses and they’re eager to hone their skills through participation in our training process.”
For the select group chosen by the VNA, orientation begins at the Morristown headquarters where every new hire moves from department to department learning the “back office.” Next, each is paired with an experienced VNA nurse who serves as a mentor. Together, the two nurses call on clients for several months. After observing and assisting, the trainee begins to pick up cases where she or he can function as the nurse of record. Soon, most are ready to work independently — and, they’re meeting the VNA’s rigorous performance standards and winning the admiration and praise of clients.
A Good Fit For All
Like many who have completed the new graduate program, Elizabeth (Liz) Callow is delighted that VNA made visiting nursing a viable entry-level career option. “I had done clinical work with a home care agency in a different region while attending the School of Nursing at Seton Hall University. I really enjoyed that experience but I assumed visiting nursing was something I would have to wait to pursue later in my career,” she said. “I was excited to learn that this VNA had a program for new grads because I instinctively knew home care would be a good fit for me.”
Her supervisors and clients agree. In fact, one steadfastly independent senior who was reluctant to accept help was among the first to be won over. Shirley Yaroshefy, 88, is accustomed to managing on her own. However, after a fall necessitated a hospital stay and left her in need of home care upon discharge, she was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of care and encouragement she got from Liz and her mentor and supervisor, Amanda Nelson, as well as physical therapist Dave Bresslour.
That’s why Shirley was glad to see Liz (who had since completed orientation) when her doctor ordered a second round of VNA visits several months later. “Liz was very thorough. She always made time to talk with me and answer my questions. She was genuinely concerned about me and treated me like family,” recalled Shirley. “Everyone associated with the VNA was just wonderful.”