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Contest/Surveys Gallery

Dansko Selects 'Hardest Working Team'

Large and small nursing teams receive recognition and win work gear in ADVANCE-partnered contest.

If asked to describe your co-workers or team, what would you say to express how you feel about them and the work they accomplish each day?

For Rebecca Maclin, RN, and Merry Porter, RN, the answer was easy. Dedication, commitment, compassion were just some words they used to describe their nursing team members.

Partnering with ADVANCE for Nurses, Dansko sought the Hardest Working Nursing Team.  Impressed by all entries and the differences between large and small teams, Dansko decided to honor two teams.

"Although, the teams experienced similar rewards and challenges on the job, there were different dynamics between small and large teams that we wanted to recognize and celebrate," explained Meghan Peiffer, occupational marketing specialist at Dansko.

All members of each team will receive two pairs of Dansko shoes and two sets of Dansko scrubs to wear on the job during the 2013 calendar year. Throughout the year, Dansko will reach out to team members to gain feedback on fit, durability, style and comfort.

COMMUNITY HOWARD REGIONAL HEALTH: Front row from left: Jamie Mendenhall, RN, Stephanie Martin, RN, Christine Baker, RN, Mary Anne Tobin, unit secretary, Darlene McKay, RN, and Lisa Tentler, RN. Leaning over the first row is Jennifer Hinds, RN. Next to back row: Charlene Foreman, RN, charge nurse; Ashley Baker, RN; Melissa Catt, surgical aide; Jennifer Filip, surgical aide; Cheryl McIntire, CST; Sharon Smith, CST; Marilyn Hershberger, RN. Back row: Rebecca Maclin, RN, charge nurse; Mary Morgan, RN; and Bill Planck, RN, manager. ADVANCE thanks Community Howard Regional Health.

Team Commitment

For the surgical nursing team at Community Howard Regional Health in Kokomo, IN., days vary in this high-stress environment.

"In a typical day, you might have one team assisting an open heart surgery and another team doing a carpal tunnel surgery," explained Maclin, a charge nurse at Community Howard Regional Health. "There's a great variety in what we do."

For Maclin, the contest perfectly described her team members and their work ethic.

"Honestly, I think I work with the hardest working team," Maclin said.  As she described in her entry, her fellow team members are hardworking and dedicated despite the high stress environment and abrupt schedule changes. 

The surgical team supports each other by filling vacant shifts due to absences. More recently, the team stepped up to the plate when a family tragedy forced a fellow nurse to be out of work for an extended period of time. Although the team spends many hours at the hospital away from family and friends, the surgical nursing team is committed to their patients' needs.

As a 13-member team, at least four have worked in the hospital's surgical department for more than 25 years, and there is one new member who has been out of school for 6 months. In addition to this core team, they also are supported by surgical technicians and aides and administrative assistants.

Despite these differences in age and experience, the surgical team is committed to information transparency and the success of each team member. More experienced nurses nurture and mentor the newer nurses while the newer nurses bring vitality, fresh perspectives and enthusiasm to the team, said Maclin.

However, every team member is defined by the hospital's core principle - patients first. The surgical team is committed to this principle, especially when patients are in surgery.

"In surgery, [the nurses] have the privilege of being the patient's voice while they are under anesthesia," said Maclin. "This is something our staff takes very seriously. The surgery may last 1 hour or 9 hours; either way our nursing team has to be the patient's voice for that length of time."

Small Town Support

A few years ago the nursing team at David Toll, MD, Pediatrics, entered the local American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Their team name: Helping Hands. 

Helping Hands aptly describes this three-member nursing team. "Our care goes beyond the day-to-day office care," said Merry Porter, RN. "We become involved in the management of many families' lives in terms of their losses, successes, divorce/separation issues and how those issues impact the children."

DAVID TOLL, MD, PEDIATRICS: Front row from left: Merry Porter, RN, David Toll, MD, Bridget Toll, RN. Back row: Merrillee Blair, lab tech, Beth Laplant, medical assistant, Amber Veilleux, billing manager, and Tiffanie Farley, LPN. ADVANCE thanks David Toll, MD, Pediatrics
Serving the St. Johnsbury, Vt., community for more than 60 years, the private practice now sees third and fourth generations from the same family. "It's a tradition for a lot of families," Porter said.

Committed to the patients, Toll and his staff pride themselves on same-day visits and availability. The practice also has an in-house lab, so the nursing staff may see patients twice in one visit, which further builds relationships with the children and their parents. 

Despite HIPPA and other healthcare changes, the team continues to keep the small town feeling of treating their patient community as a family. The office seldom refers patients to the emergency room without seeing them first. Toll takes calls 24/7, and the nursing team is available to the community at all times - at home, in the grocery store or at a local restaurant.

In addition to Porter, the Helping Hands nursing team includes Bridget Toll, RN, and Tiffanie Farley, LPN. Porter describes her team members as strong and self-motivated, especially because they depend so much on each other.

"If someone is out, everyone else has to pick up the pace," Porter explained. "We cover for each other and share responsibilities." 

It's an "unspoken culture" of support and flexibility. Similar to Community Howard Regional Health, a larger network, at Toll's office, a lab technician, medical assistant and billing manager, help the three-member nursing team thrive and better serve their patients.

Porter admits that the "hardest working" contest entry gave the team a chance to examine the work they do.

"It's different from other practices," she said. Although there are challenges of being a small team, we appreciate the benefits we have of being in a small practice and depending on one another."

Unbelievable Engagement

In the search of the Hardest Working Nursing Team, Dansko recognized a general theme of dedication to patients and passion for the profession of nursing in all the entries they received. The large contest response is no surprise to Dansko as they are familiar with strong consumer engagement. Their website's community forum welcomes feedback from fans and experts.

"Dansko is very lucky in that we have unbelievable engagement with our consumers," Peiffer said.

Founded in 1990, Dansko, a Pennsylvania-based company, designs healthcare apparel and footwear that take care of healthcare professionals so they can better care for others. By recognizing these teams with apparel and footwear, Dansko hopes the team members will "put the products to the test of their demanding days" and provide tangible feedback to the company.

Although all of the entries displayed compassion, care and enthusiasm, Dansko was moved by the nursing teams of Community Howard Regional Health and David Toll, MD, Pediatrics.
"We loved reading about the community connections exhibited by Dr. Toll's office, and the amazing camaraderie the nursing team at Community Howard Regional Health described," Peiffer said.

Alison DiPaolo is on staff at ADVANCE

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