Nurse development: empowering new graduates through internships and nurse residency

Matt Libby, BSN
Clinical Nurse Coordinator, Cardiovascular Surgery
Medical Center of Aurora, Aurora, Colorado

With a background in finance and marketing, it wasn’t until a positive healthcare experience of his own that Matt Libby discovered his passion for nursing and caring for others.

“I had surgeries of my own due to an active lifestyle and sports, and that ignited a passion for healthcare within me,” says Matt. “The nurses who helped me through my surgeries made such a difference for me, so I started to explore my options and go to nursing school.”

Shortly after receiving his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Colorado, Matt began his career at HCA as a perioperative nurse intern. Matt attributes much of his success as a nurse to this six-month operating room internship program.

“There’s a portion where you’re in class with other nurse interns from different HCA facilities, and then the other part you’re at your own facility where you’re paired up with a preceptor. You’re not thrown in without guidance, and you have someone who’s not going to let you make mistakes.”

His experience as an intern had such a profound impact on him that his team plans to start a mentorship program at Medical Center of Aurora. He sees it as a way to give less experienced nurses an opportunity to perfect their craft and help them navigate the emotional intensity of working in an OR.

When he’s not in the OR, he’s still making a difference by spearheading the hospital’s efforts to get the transcatheter aortic valve replacement program running and chairing the Unity Practice Council.

“Every day is different, and each day presents new opportunities.”

Amanda Mangra, RN
Critical Care Nurse
Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, Hudson, Florida

After deciding to pursue her passion, Amanda Mangra took advantage of the StaRN program to build her skill set early on in her career.

After receiving her degree in psychology, Amanda quickly realized she wasn’t pursuing her real passion. She headed back to the classroom, and a degree in nursing soon followed.

She was interested in pursuing cardiac and critical care. “There is a lot happening at once in the critical care unit, so one has to hone in on multiple things at the same time, while keeping one specific situation, or patient, as one’s priority,” she explains. “Your actions at any time could be life-saving.”

Amanda was drawn to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point at a job fair, in particular because of StaRN, an on-the-job residency program that offers intensive training in several hospital areas, and then matches individuals with mentors to continue learning.

“I wanted to work in cardiac care, and was hired in the critical care unit,” she says. “From there I went to the StaRN program. It was amazing. Coming from nursing school, you feel like you’ve passed the boards, so you have the basics down at least. Then you get on a unit and realize there is a lot you don’t know. I think every new nurse should have access to something like StaRN.”

Following the eight-week program, Mangra continued with the HCA Nurse Residency where she spent seven weeks working with preceptors, and was paired with a mentor the remaining nine months of the program.

“They were hardcore. They didn’t baby me, but they encouraged and pushed me as far as they felt necessary for me to get better. My preceptors put me out there from day one, with almost everything hands-on, and really made me work.”

Advancing nursing: nurses utilize leaderships skills and ongoing education to advance the practice of nursing

Tracy Sharpnack
Director, Patient Care for the Neuro and Spine Units
Swedish Medical Center, Denver, Colorado

From a med-surg nurse to hospital CNO and everything in between, Tracy Sharpnack, MSN, RN uses her extensive nursing experience to provide guidance to other nurses.

“My grandfather was pretty sick when I was young, and I helped my mother take care of him when he and my grandmother would visit,” says Tracy, who is director of patient care for the neuro and spine units at Swedish Medical Center. “He would always tell me I’d be a great nurse, even drawing little cartoons of a grumpy nurse and reminding me never to be that one! It really encouraged me to start down this path.”

Tracy received her bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University, followed by a master’s degree from the Medical College of Ohio. Her career as a nurse has taken her everywhere from med-surg units to cardiac care where she’s held various nursing leadership positions. Though she’s spent most of her nursing career in management positions, she’s never strayed too far from knowing what a bedside nurse does. What’s more, med-surg still holds a special place for her.

“In my position at Swedish I have the opportunity to be very involved in working with and mentoring staff, both of which are very important to me. I love working with nurses of varying experience levels. In med-surg we hire new graduates, and it’s fun to help people learn, grow and be successful, so maybe that’s one reason I’ve stayed close to med-surg.”

Having spent time in various nursing roles, Tracy credits a lot of her current success to knowing what nurses in each role need.

“I want to be in a position where I can make the most difference,” she explains. “One of the advantages I have is that I understand what drives different levels of nurses and I know the demands placed upon them. I also know how staff nurses, front-line nurse leaders and CNOs think since I have been in all those positions. Because of that, I can help them be successful.”

Lisa Singleton
Ambulatory Surgery Nurse
Trident Surgery Center, Charleston, South Carolina

Inspired by the nurses who cared for her after having her first child, Lisa Singleton followed her passion for caring for others.

“The nurses took such good care of me. They were so amazing,” says Lisa, a seasoned ambulatory surgery nurse of 16 years at Trident Surgery Center. “That’s when I decided to pursue a career in nursing. My mother instilled in me the belief to always put others first. She was so proud of the career choice that I had made.”

Lisa has enjoyed building relationships and making connections with her patients during difficult times in their lives. Being a part of someone’s healing process is the most rewarding aspect of her job.

“We try to make someone’s life a little easier during their most difficult moments and help them feel more at ease. You hope to be a positive influence and put yourself in their shoes. When you walk into a room and approach the patient, you try to understand what they’re going through. We want to treat every patient like family.”

Lisa knows the key to providing support to patients during a difficult time is being prepared. Throughout her career she’s taken advantage of the opportunities HCA offers to nurses to sharpen their skills, including seminars and other educational programs. Beyond her desire to continually learn and grow her skill set, she credits her success to working in a collaborative team environment.

“Communication with each other is so important,” she says. “We have meetings as a group to discuss improvements that can be made to give the best care to our patients. This group of nurses is the best I’ve ever worked with in my career.”