By Lonna Ramirez, contributor
January 13, 2011 - At Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene, Texas, it feels like family. In fact, it’s not unusual for several members of a family to work at the hospital.
“There’s a general sense of camaraderie at the hospital that makes it feel like you’re among friends and family,” said Jaclyn Pinnick, RN, an oncology nurse who has worked at Hendrick for six years. “One of the first things I noticed when I started working here was how friendly, helpful and courteous everyone was. There’s a lot of teamwork,” she said.
With 504 beds and 2,600 staff members, Hendrick is the largest hospital in the area, but Pinnick noted that it’s easy to get to know people, and describes leadership as both accessible and open minded. “If anything comes up, there’s always someone I can talk to about it, and they always follow up with me,” said Pinnick.
Hendrick is often thought of as an ideal choice for nurses who have school-age children because of the family-friendly hospital environment and the quality of the local schools. “Most of my managers and colleagues have children so they really understand and value family life. This is a wonderful place to work and raise a family,” Pinnick added.
An ideal practice environment
Hendrick Medical Center is one of only 65 hospitals in the state to receive the Pathway to Excellence™ designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which recognizes the essential elements of an ideal nursing practice environment. Low nurse-to-patient ratios, opportunities for professional growth and development, and competitive wages and benefits make Hendrick a great place for new graduates and experienced professionals alike.
“The hospital is very conscientious about nurse-to-patient ratios,” said Jamie Miller, RN, a telemetry nurse who started at Hendrick as a new graduate nurse in 2005. “Once you reach the cut-off point, they don’t assign you any more patients,” she said.
During her student training in St. Louis, Missouri, Miller recalled her experience at other facilities where patient ratios were much higher, and charge nurses knew only basic information about the patients on their unit. “At Hendrick, each floor has a charge nurse who knows everything about the patients’ histories, which not only makes for better patient care, but really helps when you have a question about a patient,” she said.
New nurses go through a comprehensive orientation and are assigned to a preceptor. “They give you a long enough period to give you a good foundation before you’re out on the floors,” said Miller. “They don’t allow you to fail — they set you up to succeed.”
Making nurses feel valued and appreciated
Trish Brumfield, RN, who works in the cath lab, has been at Hendrick for more than eight years. Before she came to the hospital she worked at a few other hospitals in the area, initially avoiding Hendrick because she was intimidated by the size.
“I remember a few years ago I was precepting a new nurse and was taking her around the hospital, talking to people in each of the departments and she said to me, ‘Wow, you know everyone here.’ It’s funny because I actually didn’t know everyone I had spoken to, but people are just so friendly here, it’s easy to get to know them.”
Before she settled in the cath lab, Brumfield worked in several different departments throughout the hospital and always felt appreciated and listened to. “Whenever I approached a manager with a problem or concern, they did what they could to make it right. And the hospital does all sorts of little things to show their appreciation — I had only been working there six months and I remember someone came around with a cart with snacks and sodas for everyone, just to say, ‘thank you.’ They really let us know that they care and appreciate what we do,” Brumfield said.
A strong commitment to education
Kristen Grand, RN, a charge nurse in neurology, began her career at Hendrick as an LVN nine years ago. One of the reasons she chose to work at Hendrick was because they gave her the flexibility she needed to earn her RN license while working full time. Although there were other hospitals closer to her home, Grand commuted more than 50 miles each day to work at Hendrick.
“I knew Hendrick was the right choice and a great place for me to learn,” she said. “More importantly, I feel like they care about me as a person. They encourage people to continue their education and truly want to create an environment where people want to stay long term — that mindset creates a better work environment and contributes to better patient care.”
In 2008, Grand and her family moved to Abilene to take advantage of better educational opportunities for their children and avoid the long commute. “The schools are great, there are a lot of events and things to do — we recently went to a hot-air balloon festival. We live in a quiet neighborhood in the middle of town, but it doesn’t feel like we’re in a big city. Both my husband and I are from a small town, and although we have so much here in Abilene, it doesn’t feel overwhelming,” she added.
Once her son graduates from high school, Grand is planning on returning to school. “I know I can count on Hendrick to make that possible,” she noted.
Small-town values, big-city convenience
Abilene’s town Web site boasts that the city offers a small-town feel and a strong sense of community with all the conveniences of a big city. The city is home to three private universities including, Abilene Christian University, Hardin-Simmons University and McMurry University, and Dyess Air Force Base. The area offers year-round golf and tennis, boating and fishing at nearby lakes, museums, theaters, shopping and dining. A variety of festivals and other events are held year round, ensuring there’s always something to do. The nightlife, shopping and cultural offerings of the Dallas-Forth Worth metroplex are just 150 miles to the west, making it an easy day trip or convenient weekend getaway.
© 2011. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.