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Becoming a Leader in Eldercare

When Mae joined El Camino Hospital in 2011, she brought with her eight years of experience as a nurse. But just as importantly, she also carried a fundamental passion for helping elderly patients. Mae’s coworkers and supervisors recognized her inner drive to learn and keep improving. They have encouraged and guided her to become the respected eldercare nursing leader she is today.
While Mae was finding her bearings at El Camino Hospital, the organization was planning to institute the Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) program. NICHE is a national organization that encourages hospitals to adopt its tested principles, protocols and models of care, which dovetail into El Camino Hospital’s culture of patient-centered care. It turns out that Mae’s passion and experience were the perfect fit to lead the development of a NICHE program at the hospital. “The program is for patients, but my role in shaping the NICHE program has also helped me professionally as I continue to interact directly with our nursing staff every day. It’s a great way to hone my leadership skills,” she says. One of the most rewarding results of Mae’s leadership has been El Camino Hospital’s designation of NICHE Exemplar status, the highest designation possible from the organization.
As one of the leaders in eldercare at the hospital, Mae helps the nursing staff become more comfortable with older patients. “It’s gratifying to be in this position. I help with one-on-one bedside education, and we also put together educational programs and training sessions. It has been a privilege to work with our staff so closely.”
For Mae, professional growth meant seeking guidance to help adjust to her new administrative duties. “My experience had been mainly in clinical work, but I wanted to gain experience in an administrative role. The hospital has been incredibly supportive.” In particular, two people helped shape Mae’s experience: Chris Tarver and Cheryl Reinking. Mae shares, “Chris was my mentor and has been instrumental in my growth. She’s very open-minded and encourages me to try new things. Cheryl hired me and helped me find my footing with the NICHE program. We did research about reducing readmissions and together wrote a paper. They both have been critical in my career.”
Senior leaders at El Camino Hospital aren’t the only ones who have recognized Mae’s hard work. The American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) recently honored her as one of sixteen 2017 Certified Nurse Award winners. To her, this recognition shows that her passion and hard work are paying off: “It validates the work I’ve done trying to empower nurses to provide better care for elders as well as the establishment of the NICHE program. It feels good to know other people are recognizing my work.”
Just as Mae has received personal career development attention, she is now passing along her knowledge to others. As co-chair of the Nursing Research Council, Mae is mentoring nurses interested in doing research to achieve more positive outcomes for elders. “I think it’s important to give some guidance and help younger nurses gain experience with a skill that’s a one step removed from the bedside,” Mae shares. In addition, El Camino Hospital’s Magnet designation from the ANCC—an award given to less than five percent of hospitals worldwide—demonstrates a larger, organizational commitment to nursing. The Nursing Magnet program encourages nurses to share research data and performance improvement and to increase nurse involvement throughout the healthcare system.
Mae has been busy since she began working at El Camino Hospital, not that she minds the pace of the job. To her coworkers and patients, it is plain to see that her work is a labor of love. “I come from a long line of nurses. I guess you could call it a family business,” Mae jokes. Her enthusiasm for great nursing care for older adults fits perfectly with El Camino Hospital’s dedication to compassionate, personalized care for all patients. Find out more by reading about the NICHE Program and the Nursing Magnet Program.