It was Georgeanna Ensley's high school friends who noticed it first. They witnessed her extraordinary kindness and patience while she was feeding her grandmother in an ICU bed. They encouraged her to become a nurse. Not giving the idea another thought, she headed off to college.
It was in her dorm room at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, that she would make the final decision. Surrounded by nearly all nurse majors who were dedicated to continuing education and excellence, they became a band of sisters, all working toward that goal, explained Ensley. "Before I knew it, they got me in to see the recruitment admission counselor for the School of Nursing," said Ensley. "The rest is history."
While attending college, Ensley joined the Alabama Association of Nursing Students, where she later became the vice president and one of the state's official delegates to the National Student Nurses' Association. "I was actively involved for the betterment of nurses, to improve the status of nurses within the healthcare system," explained Ensley.
Starting a Career
Ensley earned her BSN and was hired as a staff nurse on the ortho/neuro floor of a 60-bed hospital in Birmingham, AL. All driven achievers, she and her band of sisters attended graduate school. After receiving her MSN in rehab nursing, Ensley accepted a position as clinical nurse specialist for a freestanding rehab hospital, then as a staff nurse for a neuro ICU unit, both located at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Knowing she was restless, her director told her about a position in St. Louis as a program consultant with Rehab Care Group, formerly Rehab Care Corp. Away from the bedsides of patients, she assisted in opening approximately 30 rehab units in 9 years and was promoted to vice president of professional services. On the road constantly for 9 years, Ensley decided to redefine her career goals.
"During this time, I heard through word of mouth that there were two or three RN refresher programs in this region," stated Ensley, noting the program at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, St. Louis had the best reputation. "Nurses told me it was a comprehensive program, and that they were mentored throughout the process." She called Missouri Baptist and spoke with a course representative.
She learned that the facility's nurse refresher program is designed to integrate inactive registered nurses back into the acute care environment. The program provides the inactive nurse with the supportive environment necessary to refine clinical skills and critical-thinking abilities. A second knowledge base provides the nurse refresher with the support and confidence needed to practice in the ever-changing hospital environment.
The 10-week program contains 63 hours of classroom content pertinent for today's nurses to effectively and safely practice. Individual learning needs are addressed in the clinical lab, with one-on-one learning opportunities. In addition, 160 hours of preceptored patient care experiences are offered in a med/surg clinical area.
Thorough & Comprehensive
The cost of the entire program, including classroom content, course book and patient care experiences is $1,500. "It's worth every penny," Ensley said. "It's an investment in yourself. When you stop and think about it, a college course would be more. You will not find a more thorough, comprehensive course in this state, from an education standpoint or from a clinical hands-on approach to learning.
"This sounded like the right place for me, so I signed up," said Ensley. "There were 15 of us in class, which is a good student/instructor ratio. There was a lot of group discussion regarding delivery of nursing care and we had a good knowledge base relating to review of the whole body system including cardiac and respiratory care, GI system, as well as integration of nursing policies and procedures concerning patient care and disease processes.
"Once we were on the floor we were paired with a mentor. I worked with a staff nurse on the orthopedics floor," Ensley continued. "For the first few days we shadowed our mentors to make sure we understood the level of nursing care expected. Over the course of a few weeks, we'd assist one or two patients under the direction of our mentors. Gradually, we took on more clinical vs. classroom instruction, including media resources that nurses use on the floor. Switching to computerized charting was a big challenge for me because in recent years, all documentation was hand written."
Back On Staff
Ensley learned the hospital's system through ongoing educational classes, which involved learning policies and procedures. During the second month, the facility started talking with the students about employment. Ensley accepted a position as staff nurse in ortho/neuro/spine at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, and she was recently promoted as the unit's assistant nurse manager.
"There was no doubt in my mind that this is where I wanted to continue my nursing career," stated Ensley.
• For more information visit http://www.missouribaptist.org/. Program requirements apply and can be discussed with either Sandy Mayberry (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Eileen Berlin (email@example.com), educational specialists from the Clinical Nursing Institute at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, St. Louis. An application will be sent for those who meet the criteria.
Mary T. Beck is senior media relations coordinator, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, St. Louis.