Tiffany Gonzales, a G.R.E.A.T. Addition to the Methodist Family

By Sharina Arceneaux, MSN, RN-BC
Medical-Surgical Clinical Educator
Methodist Dallas Medical Center


June 16 is a day that I will never forget. It’s the day I met Tiffany Gonzales after her first day of work in the environmental services department at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. It’s also the day that I knew Tiffany was going to be a terrific addition to the Methodist Health System family.

I had just left work. As I was driving past the Methodist Dallas campus, I noticed two Dallas Police cars pulled over with their lights flashing, so I stopped to see what was going on. I saw Tiffany sitting on the ground next to a woman who she said had just had a seizure. She told me how long the seizure had lasted and what she had done to care for the woman. I waited with her until the ambulance arrived and the patient was safely transported.

Tiffany was the right person in the right place at the right time for this woman. Tiffany’s own health history includes seizures, so she knew exactly what to do to keep the woman safe, including flagging Dallas Police and calling 911 for help. She undoubtedly saved the woman from further harm and injury by preventing her from falling on the sidewalk or into the path of oncoming cars.

What impressed me about Tiffany was her courage and her willingness to stop and help someone in trouble. Not many people these days would do that. I also was impressed with her skills of observation, her obvious caring attitude, her ability to clearly provide details about the woman’s condition, and her strength to remain calm throughout the entire episode.

Tiffany may not have been clinically trained, but what I later learned is that she wants to be a nurse. In fact, she is finishing her classes so she can apply to the El Centro College Associate Degree Nursing Program at Methodist Health System. No wonder she was so observant and caring. It all made sense then.

Tiffany recalled seeing the woman in a zombie-like state at the bus stop. “I knew I had to help this woman,” she told me. “Because I have experienced seizures, I immediately knew what to do. This episode has strengthened my resolve to become a nurse. Besides my job at Methodist Dallas, I also work as a paraprofessional in the special education department at a charter school. I work with many children who have special needs, including a student who was born without arms. She has helped me to understand what it means to care for others who can’t do for themselves. Nursing is the perfect career for me.”

When we leave work, we’re often preoccupied with things that we need to do next — like get home to our families and go to the store. That’s why Tiffany’s actions are so remarkable. In spite of the fact that she’s a single mom with three children who works two jobs, she stopped to help a stranger. Her medical history definitely puts her more in tune with other people’s needs because she’s known both sides of the story.

Tiffany also told me that everything she does, she does in the spirit of excellence. “When I saw this woman on the street, my caretaking instincts kicked in,” she remarked. “I didn’t want anything to happen to this woman. If something is not right, I zoom in and focus on a solution until the situation is remedied.”

I have no doubt that Tiffany is going to be an EXCELLENT nurse! That’s why I nominated her for the G.R.E.A.T. Award to recognize her for her attitude and her willingness to go the extra mile for someone. She truly exemplifies the spirit of the Methodist Dallas family. They put their own needs aside to help others.

If you’re ready to join a team that values and mirrors Tiffany’s commitment to caring, consider Methodist Health System. To learn more, visit us at

© Methodist Health System

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Methodist Dallas First Hospital in DFW To Receive Baby-Friendly Designation

by Pamala Gessling, MBA, BSN, RNC-OB, NEA-BC
Director of Nursing, Women and Children’s Services
Methodist Dallas Medical Center

February 10, 2015, was a big day for moms and their babies at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. That’s the day the hospital became the first health care organization in Dallas County to receive the Baby-Friendly birth facility designation from Baby-Friendly USA.

Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

I was extremely proud and happy for our wonderful staff and physicians who worked so hard to help Methodist Dallas attain this top certification for family-centered care. Every nurse who cares for mothers and their babies received 20 hours of extensive training. Our physicians each received three hours of education. These standards are part of national quality core measures, and breastfeeding is now a reportable measure for The Joint Commission.

Based on the universally accepted Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, obtaining the Baby-Friendly designation required a huge commitment on the part of the hospital. It began with our decision to implement shared-care nursing in 2012. This is a model of nursing in which the same nurse provides care for mother and her baby in the same room. This dramatic departure from traditional postpartum care was based on research that showed having babies close to their mothers helps the new moms learn their babies’ cues, supports the bonding process, and better prepares moms to succeed and have a good experience when they take their babies home.

Why is Methodist Dallas so committed to helping new moms successfully breastfeed their babies? In the new health care environment that focuses on improving care outcomes and patient experiences, pursuing the Baby-Friendly designation was simply the right thing to do. Breastfeeding is best for infants and mothers for many reasons:

  • It’s natural
  • Babies who are breastfed are less likely to be obese or develop diabetes
  • It supports the critical bonding between mothers and babies
  • It provides an opportunity to educate moms before they take their babies home.

Most moms don’t know that even one sip of baby formula changes the intestinal flora of their babies’ stomachs. That means formula-fed babies are more likely to develop bacteria that’s not normal for them to have. It’s best for babies to keep the flora that they are born with to help them fight all kinds of infections. In short, it’s healthier for the babies. Moms benefit from breastfeeding because it helps them return to their prepregnancy weight and get back in shape faster. Plus, breastfeeding is less expensive than purchasing baby formula.

It takes about two days post delivery to begin producing breast milk. These first few days, mothers produce a low-fat, high-protein milk called colostrum, which provides all the nutrients and fluid that newborns need in the early days, as well as many substances to protect babies against infections. Babies’ stomachs are about the size of a marble when they are born. Breastfeeding babies will stop nursing when they are full. Often, we unintentionally teach formula-fed babies to overeat. Our goal is to help new moms establish breastfeeding the first few days. We help them better understand their babies and learn how to pick up cues that they are hungry. This helps ensure a better experience and outcome down the road.

If moms choose not to breastfeed, we will of course support their decision and provide the same outstanding care we provide to moms who do choose to breastfeed. Most important, our goal is to help educate moms so they can make informed decisions. We have a huge obesity issue in the U.S., and we have a relatively low exclusive breastfeeding rate. I’m gratified to report that since Methodist Dallas began the program, the number of moms who are exclusively breastfeeding their babies has climbed to 54 percent. That’s huge for us.

By obtaining the Baby-Friendly designation, we are empowering women to naturally breastfeed their babies to help them get a healthier start in life. We’re here to support them, regardless of their feeding choices, so they can get a good start on raising their children. Our staff believes in the value of this effort and is committed to strictly following the standards established by Baby-Friendly USA.

Several years ago, Methodist Health System’s President and CEO, Stephen L. Mansfield, PhD, FACHE, set out to achieve his vision of creating one of the healthiest health care organizations in America by 2016. To achieve this vision, we need to educate our patients and the communities we serve about choices and healthy lifestyles. It’s a powerful tool to get healthy and stay healthy and that’s certainly one of the foundational principles of Baby-Friendly USA.

If you’re ready to join one of the healthiest health care systems in the U.S., consider Methodist Health System. To learn more, visit us at

© Methodist Health System

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Expanding Our Reach Through Accountable Care

by Purity Nyaga, MSN, RN
Clinical Director, Accountable Care Organization (MPCACO), Methodist Health System
In 2012, Methodist Health System waded into the new world of accountable care by being selected as a participant in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). The ACO model was designed to provide beneficiaries with high-quality service and care while reducing overall expenditures by enhancing care coordination. To assure the achievement of this triple aim, CMS established 33 quality measures relating to care coordination and patient safety, identified appropriate use of preventive health services, improved care for at-risk populations, and enhanced the patient and caregiver experience of care.

Methodist was a pioneer in this care delivery arrangement. We applied for the MSSP and were accepted into the pilot program as the first ACO in North Texas. What’s more, we were the only ACO in the area to achieve cost savings

As an early adopter, Methodist Patient-Centered ACO (MPCACO) focused on doing everything we could to reduce costs, improve quality, and increase patient satisfaction. There were a lot of opportunities to serve our beneficiaries with needs that included transportation, food, finding doctors and equipment, and so on. We saw lives changed and made a lot of friends in the process. Above all, we were able to positively affect a significant number of beneficiaries’ lives, which in turn resulted in lower readmission rates, reduced unnecessary emergency room visits, and decreased avoidable hospitalizations. When CMS announced the first-year results, we were amazed — $12.7 million in savings!  We were off to a great start.

You may be wondering why Methodist leadership decided to pursue this new venture. Our leadership was looking for innovative ways to fulfill our mission and vision. They were assertive and wanted us to be part of the solution to the health care challenges that face the entire industry.

Since 2012, we have seen the broad range of benefits that an ACO offers to patients, providers, and the community as a whole. Besides the cost savings, we have been able to document improvement in the quality of care for the beneficiaries covered by our organization. Our navigators have seen more than 3,000 patients. Even more important, we’ve seen individual lives impacted and changed for the better.

Coordinated care is the key to the ACO’s success. Our care navigation department is staffed with registered nurses, clinical social workers, community health workers, health coaches, and other health care professionals who are ready to go into the community and into beneficiaries’ homes to work with them according to their needs. The ACO staff also helps beneficiaries coordinate care with specialists, communicate with pharmacies, set up appointments for patients, arrange for home visits, assist with community resources, coordinate finding the appropriate post-acute-care providers, provide health care education and coaching, and much more.

We have been able to build the ACO from the ground up, including forming strategic community partnerships. One example is our partnership with the North Texas Food Bank, which helps us provide fresh fruits and vegetables to eligible beneficiaries. In fact, approximately 8,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables are distributed monthly. We also provide transportation cab vouchers to beneficiaries so they can get to their treatment and follow-up visits with their physicians. We refer our beneficiaries to area agencies for services, including:

  • CitySquare — providing multiple services at reduced rates, like housing, food pantry, and legal
  • Adult Protective Services — a safety support system for patients who need it
  • Metrocare — mental health and developmental disabilities support
  • American Cancer Society — a comprehensive program with a 360-degree assessment of medication and financial support needs for patients and their families.

Based on our patients’ needs, we continue to pursue new strategic partnerships and collaborations.

What are some of the key takeaways we’ve learned over the past three years? They include:

  1. Realizating that the health care system is much more fragmented than we originally thought
  2. Learning that care incentives for doing the right thing under the traditional fee-for-service model are misaligned and contribute to many of the problems addressed by accountable care
  3. Appreciating that this effort is going to require a lot of work in order for all of us to continue to move forward.

The next two to three years will be an exciting time for the MPCACO. We anticipate significant growth in total number of lives covered, from our current number of 25,000 to around 100,000. We also look forward to networking and sharing with other participating organizations in the CMS ACO program, as well as commercial ACO programs within our region.

The ACO is still an unfamiliar concept to many in health care. From the beginning of the ACO movement, Methodist has taken a leading role to move from volume-based care to care that is value based. As an organization that cares for the well-being of its employees, the MPCACO will begin assisting in managing the health of employees and their dependents by offering navigation services, health coaching, weight-loss and smoking-cessation programs, and any other services that they may need to promote health and wellness. This is another example of Methodist’s commitment to the health and well-being of our family members. As a caregiver, isn’t this the type of organization where you want to work and grow?

If you’re ready to join an innovative leader in health care delivery, consider Methodist Health System. To learn more, visit us at

© Methodist Health System

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Advancing from Nursing to the President’s Chair: Anything is Possible

By Fran Laukaitis, MHA, BSN, FACHE
President, Methodist Charlton Medical Center

Fran Laukaitis was recently named president of Methodist Charlton Medical Center. Fran served as Methodist Charlton’s chief nursing officer since 2010. She is the first registered nurse to ever serve as president of a Methodist Health System facility. 

I have been a nurse for 40 years, and never imagined that I would be leading a great health care organization today. Initially, I spent 15 years as a bedside nurse in the ICU. But when I had the opportunity to start taking leadership roles, I continued to moonlight in ED and ICU because I never wanted to lose site of the most important focus — caring for patients.

It may surprise you to learn that my aspiration was not to be where I am today. Instead, I was willing to serve in whatever capacity I was needed. Throughout my career, when a supervisory position was offered to me, I took it. From nursing to ancillary and support departments to plant operations, that willingness to learn was a valuable lesson. As a result, today I have experience in most of the departments within the hospital.

I think there are five characteristics that make a great health care leader:

  1. Recognize that all decisions need to be centered on what’s best for the patient, because that’s the heart of our business.
  2. Leaders must have and demonstrate integrity.
  3. A leader must always strive to be fair and bring people together. As a nurse, one might think I may favor nurses; however, I learned that the person who really needs to win is the patient. So if our decisions are based on what’s best for the patient, then it brings disparate parties together to achieve success as a team.
  4. Every great leader I’ve observed or read about has possessed a strong work ethic balanced by kindness and compassion.
  5. Finally, a leader must have an overwhelming desire to be a leader, even if it means stepping out of his or her comfort zone.

Along the way, I have been fortunate to have outstanding mentors who have given me sage advice. An example is when I chose the program for my master’s degree. I sought counsel from my mentor, and she gave me two pieces of advice that changed my career and my life. First, she recommended pursing a Master of Health Administration. She was right. Second, she encouraged me to join the American College of Healthcare Executives. Again, she was on target.

Using past experience as a guide, here are my tips for young professionals:

  1. Don’t wait to continue your education. Learning is a lifelong endeavor.
  2. Take advantage of opportunities. You’ll end up where you’re supposed to be. Don’t be afraid to take chances.
  3. Stay present. Some people are so busy getting to the next step in their careers, they fail to focus on the present. Instead, focus on where you are right now so you can do your best job today.

How is my experience as chief nursing officer now helping me in my role as president? I don’t have to rely on what others tell me about the need for medical equipment or clinical resources. As a clinician, I understand what their challenges are. The physicians also appreciate the fact that I “get it.” And when I need to lobby for scarce resources, I feel that I represent Methodist Charlton well because of the breadth of my clinical background.

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my job is that employees tell me that I “fill them up.” But when they ask who fills me up, they’re surprised to learn that it’s all of them. They inspire me daily. My goal is to show them that you can do anything if you work hard, have integrity, and do what’s right. These beliefs carry over to who I surround myself with on my leadership team. I can teach skills — finance, budgeting, managing — but I can’t teach attitude. I want to be surrounded, and I want our employees to be surrounded, by people who are positive and recognize that what we do for a living is a privilege.

I feel so blessed to have this opportunity and to do this work.

If you’re ready to pursue limitless possibilities for your career, then choose Methodist Health System. Learn more by visiting

© Methodist Health System


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The Journey to Magnet Excellence®, One of Nursing’s Highest Credentials

By Candice Herman, MSN, RN, NEA-BC
Director, Magnet® Program
Methodist Charlton Medical Center

By now, most nurses know or have heard about Journey to Magnet Excellence®. But many don’t really understand or appreciate the work that goes into achieving this prestigious recognition. Why has Methodist Charlton Medical Center, as well as Methodist Health System’s other hospitals, decided to pursue this distinction?

The Magnet Recognition Program®, administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA), is the most prestigious distinction a health care organization can receive for nursing excellence and quality patient outcomes. Organizations that achieve Magnet recognition are part of an esteemed group that demonstrates superior nursing practices and outcomes. (ANCC, 2013)

The origins of the program sprang from the nursing shortages of the 1970s and ’80s. During that time, some hospitals were fully staffed and while others were not. ANA began researching the phenomenon in 1983 and discovered 14 characteristics that differentiated organizations best able to recruit and retain nurses. The characteristics are known as the Forces of Magnetism. They are attributes or outcomes that exemplify nursing excellence. They embody a professional environment guided by a strong and visionary nursing leader who advocates and supports excellence in nursing practice. The Forces of Magnetism include:

  • Quality of nursing leadership
  • Organizational structure
  • Management style
  • Personnel policies and programs
  • Professional models of care
  • Quality of care
  • Quality improvement
  • Consultation and resources
  • Autonomy
  • Community and the health care organization
  • Nurses as teachers
  • Image of nursing
  • Interdisciplinary relationships
  • Professional development.

The Forces of Magnetism are captured in five components that make up the Magnet Recognition Program model, the compass for hospitals striving for Magnet status. The model components include:

  • Transformational leadership
  • Structural empowerment
  • Exemplary professional practice
  • New knowledge, innovations, and improvements
  • Empirical outcomes.

What is my role in helping Methodist Charlton reach its goal? Previously, I helped lead a southeast Texas hospital system achieve Magnet designation as well as one re-designation. One of the first things I did when I started at Methodist Charlton was to conduct a gap analysis between the Magnet standards and our current performance. An example is nursing empowerment. We use a tool called a decisional involvement scale. This tool examines who makes the decision on something and who should make the decision. If there is a discrepancy, we look at what we need to do to change it. We are also identifying improvement projects we can use in the Magnet application.

To say the process is arduous is an understatement. The entire effort requires a healthy work environment, collaborative and collegial team structure, and a focus on the overall benefit of the care we provide our patients and families. One of the biggest values of the application process is that as we gather information, we are realizing just how good we are!

Every nurse I have encountered is so engaged and enthusiastic about the path we are on toward Magnet status. The excitement is very organic. They want to do this because they know we deliver quality patient care, and they want it to be validated via the Magnet recognition.

We are hoping to submit the application to Magnet in February 2017, meaning we are formally on the Magnet journey. We will then have one year to write and submit our documents.

When Methodist Charlton achieves Magnet status, it will mean that nurses will continue to have their voices heard. They will be able to continue to provide excellent care. They will be highly satisfied with their peers and their leadership. Bottom line, they will want to stay at Methodist Charlton where they will be proud of what they do, and they will know that they are continuing to make a difference for our patients and for the community.

If you’re ready to join an organization that is Magnet® bound, choose Methodist Health System. Learn more by visiting

© Methodist Health System


American Nurses Credentialing Center. (2013). Magnet Recognition Program: Application Manual 2014. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Credentialing Center.

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Celebrating Our Nurses

Irene Strejc, MPH, BSN, RN, CENP, ACHE
Vice President Nursing, Chief Nursing Officer
Methodist Richardson Medical Center

One of my favorite times of year is upon us — National Nurses Week. May 6-12 has been set aside as the time for the entire country to celebrate the profession of nursing and thank nurses everywhere for their selfless dedication to others.

My desire to be a nurse started at a very young age. When I was 5 years old, I was hospitalized for flulike symptoms. Even at that young point in my life, I was impressed with the kindness and graciousness of the nurses who cared for me. Perhaps it was because I come from a long line of family members who have deep roots in health care, but I wanted to continue the tradition. When I became a teen, I volunteered at a hospital, then went on to finish a two-year associate’s degree so I could immediately begin caring for others. After working a few years, I realized the vast potential that a nursing career offered, so I went back to school and earned a Bachelor in Nursing then my Master of Public Health.

Each year, I look forward to recognizing nurses during this special week because I think it provides an opportunity to consider the characteristics and values that drive individuals to enter nursing. It also creates a public forum to officially recognize and thank all of our nurses for their selfless dedication to others and the differences they makes in patients’ lives each and every day.

Nursing is the linchpin that brings everything together. Nurses are the eyes and ears of the physicians when they can’t be at the hospital. Working together, physicians and nurses can provide timely, appropriate, patient-centered care. Physicians tell us every day how much they appreciate the spirit of partnership they share with our nurses as they work to achieve the best possible patient outcomes. Year after year, patient surveys indicate that nurses are one of the most trusted members of the health care team. In fact, patients’ attitudes toward their nurses are the most highly correlated components of the patient experience in terms of overall satisfaction. We consistently receive comments from patients thanking their nurses for keeping them informed throughout their care, teaching them about caring for themselves once they leave the hospital, and demonstrating an ability to anticipate their needs before they have to push the call light.

What is the profile of a good nurse? First, nurses have a strong altruistic need to care for people at the most vulnerable times of their lives. There’s no greater contribution you can give to others than to be with them, care for them, and support them and their families during times of personal health crises. In general, nurses are also highly intelligent, good problem solvers, caring and compassionate, dedicated to their profession and to the well-being of their patients, and willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to take care of their patients.

As I speak with nursing graduates today, two themes come through loud and clear. First, nursing is a financially rewarding career that weathers economic down turns. Second, it offers many career options — hospital, physician’s office, rehab, hospice, home health, case management, quality assurance, insurance companies, state agencies, and many other related careers.

At Methodist Richardson Medical Center this week, we are holding several celebratory events that will feature guest speakers, food, and time to socialize with fellow nurses. We’ll be doing clinical rounding throughout the hospital to support our nurses where they work. In addition, we will be presenting two awards — Nurse of the Year and Rookie Nurse of the Year — as we springboard into celebrating National Hospital Week the following week. Our celebrations are from the heart, overflowing with deep appreciation and admiration.

Truly it’s a special privilege to stand with each one of our nurses every day. Caring for our patients and their families is a team effort and each member is an all-star. Together, nurses and other members of the care team are improving clinical care and enhancing the level of service we provide to those who trust us with their overall health and well-being.

If you’re ready to celebrate your career as a nurse, consider Methodist Health System. To learn more, visit us at

© Methodist Health System


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Seven Methodist Health System Nurses Named to Dallas-Fort Worth Great 100 2015

Do you remember the classic movie that was released in 1960, “The Magnificent Seven?” The movie focused on a small town that hired seven men to help protect its citizens. We think all of our nurses are magnificent, and especially the seven Methodist Health System nurses who have been named DFW Great 100 Nurses 2015. This award is recognized throughout the nursing community in the DFW Metroplex as an esteemed honor and prestigious accomplishment. Here are brief snapshots of each of the distinguished honorees. We are proud to call them family.

Sherri Floyd, BSN, RN, Risk Manager, Methodist Dallas Medical Center
Sherri has been a nurse at Methodist Dallas for 22 years. She spent 19 years in the surgical intensive care unit and the last three years in the risk management department.

“The most important value a Great 100 Nurse can have is passion. Nurses are compassionate by nature, but we must have that passion, that fire in the gut, to facilitate change and growth. My goal as risk manager is to assure that each bedside nurse can make a difference for all patients. I work daily with nurses and managers to increase patient safety as well as that of the employee. I have driven from Fort Worth to Methodist Dallas all of these years because Methodist is my family. I can’t imagine working at any other hospital.”

Karrie Klein, RNC-OB, Staff Nurse, Labor and Delivery, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center
Karrie has been a labor and delivery nurse at Methodist Mansfield since 2008.

“The most important value a Great 100 Nurse can have is commitment — commitment to making nursing your lifestyle, not just a 12-hour job. Sometimes, an empathetic nurse is all the family and visitors have to look forward to. Everything we do supports families and patients when they are at their most vulnerable. I think a Great 100 Nurse has an innate gift of unconditional compassion and a mission to promote quality of life. We work to positively impact not only our patients, but also our work unit by finding ways to improve patient care and satisfaction. That also means reaching beyond the hospital’s doors and into the community to provide education and promote community health.”

Cindy Lantz, RN, Nurse Manager, Observation Unit, Methodist Dallas Medical Center
Cindy has been a nurse at Methodist Dallas for 15 years.

“I feel very humbled to receive this award. I work with a great team of people. I truly love being a nurse, and I hope I am helping to make a difference for others. My philosophy is that we shouldn’t define our patients by their diagnoses. Every patient has a story, a reason that brought him or her to our doors, a life before he or she became sick or injured. I make it a point to take a few minutes to talk to each of my patients about their life, to get to know them as a person, not just a diagnosis.”

Cassie Oden, RN, CEN, Staff Nurse, Emergency Department, Methodist Dallas Medical Center
Cassie has been a nurse at Methodist Dallas for seven years.

“I am very pleased to have been selected as one of DFW’s Great 100 Nurses. I never thought I would be chosen for such an award. It is such an honor. I have always strived to give my best to every patient. In the emergency department (ED), we deal with people of all ages with a wide range of injury and illness acuity. A large part of our job is providing compassionate care to our patients and comforting their family during life-changing events. This is especially important after the death of a loved one. My advice to other nurses is to give the best care you can to every patient. Be compassionate and remember that the patient’s family needs care, too. Never stop learning or improving yourself.”

Nancy Valant, BSN, RN, CEN, Staff Nurse, Emergency Department, Methodist Dallas Medical Center
Nancy has been a nurse at Methodist Dallas for 29 years. She was a member of the first intensive care unit (ICU) internship class.

“There are several values that a Great 100 Nurse has — integrity, experience, knowledge, respect from co-workers and management, and the willingness to keep learning. After spending seven years in the ICU, I transferred to the ED for a more active environment and have been here ever since. I love the teamwork and the cohesiveness, plus we see a great variety of patient illnesses and trauma. I feel I can make a difference in the lives of my patients, and I get a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction from my job that I don’t get anywhere else.”

John Vo, MSN, RN, Director, Neurosurgery and Orthopedic Services, Methodist Dallas Medical Center
John has been with Methodist Dallas for 14 years.

“It’s such an honor to be recognized as a Great 100 Nurse. Why am I in nursing today? When I was in college, I had to be hospitalized. There, I experienced two kinds of nursing care — one nurse who was compassionate and caring and another who was not so much. That influenced my career decision to go into health care and be the kind of nurse who patients and families could really depend on. I am committed to give them the very best care possible. Today, when I talk with nurses who are considering changing jobs, I tell them to come to Methodist. ‘You won’t get lost in a big corporate structure. The culture is welcoming and friendly. And everyone is willing to help.’ I’m blessed to work with such a talented group of people.”

Judy VonEhr, RN, BSN, Manager, NICU and Neonatal Transport Team, Methodist Dallas Medical Center
Judy has been with Methodist Dallas for two years.

“I always wanted to be a nurse, so it’s no surprise I’ve had a 36-year nursing career. My passion has always been to work with children, so I eventually became a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. The greatest gratification I get from my work is taking care of a very small infant who may be really sick, then seeing that child with his or her family thriving a few years later. Seeing what a difference I can make for these babies and their families is so rewarding. Methodist is one of the greatest places I’ve ever worked. Every day I feel that I’m supported by my colleagues and by our leadership.”

The DFW Great 100 Nurses was launched in 1991 as a celebration that raises the awareness of the area’s 40,000 practicing nurses’ contributions, including patient care, research, leadership, education, and community service. In addition, the celebration builds the image of nursing through positive reinforcement of the profession as a scientific art and the recognition of those who exemplify excellence. It is a special honor for a nurse to be nominated by patients, their family members, peers, former teachers, physicians, and administrators.

If you’re ready to join a great organization that emphasizes professionalism, collaboration, and accountability to each other, consider Methodist Health System. To learn more, visit us at

© Methodist Health System


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Joint Academy Prepares Staff and Patients for a Brighter Tomorrow

By John Vo, MSN, RN
Director of Neurosurgery and Orthopedic Services
Methodist Dallas Medical Center

Medicine has come a long way, and you need look no further than the joint replacement programs at Methodist Dallas, Methodist Charlton, and Methodist Mansfield Medical Centers for proof. Today, patients who suffer injuries to their hips, knees, or shoulders from accidents or disease can undergo joint replacement surgery that could return them to nearly 100 percent of their preinjury functional level.

Orthopedics is an area of medicine that is changing rapidly. For many patients, the latest technologies in joint replacement surgery, including minimally invasive anterior hip replacement, mean less time in the hospital, less pain, quicker recovery, and more comfort. It’s critically important to keep staff and patients informed with the most up-to-date information. That’s where the Methodist Joint Academy comes in.

The Joint Academy is a free, one-day workshop for patients who will soon undergo a joint replacement. The program educates patients about their disease or injury, how it has affected their joints, the surgery that they are about to have, and what’s ahead as far as recovery and rehabilitation. While at the hospital for the workshop, staff also completes patients’ presurgery workup that includes blood work, an EKG, and more. At Methodist Dallas, we host the Joint Academy on a weekly basis. But it isn’t just for patients. Our new orthopedic floor nurses attend as well so they receive the same information as their patients. This has proven to be effective in getting everyone — patient and caregiving team — on the same page, improving the patient care experience.

Every patient attending the Methodist Dallas Joint Academy will:

  • Be greeted by a concierge and guided to the classroom
  • Receive priority access to required pre-op testing
  • Receive express registration to eliminate delays the day of surgery
  • Engage in classroom instruction about what to expect from pre-op, joint replacement surgery, recovery, and rehabilitation taught by Joint Academy clinical specialists
  • Participate in a tour of the orthopedic floor, designed specifically for the needs and comfort of joint replacement surgery patients
  • Engage in small group discussion with fellow joint replacement patients to build camaraderie and provide motivation and support after surgery
  • Receive a Joint Academy T-shirt, tote bag, educational binder, and reusable ice pack
  • Enjoy free validated parking.

Both of the joint replacement programs at Methodist Dallas and Methodist Charlton have received certification from The Joint Commission. This process takes about 18 months of preparation and includes many educational sessions with physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and the other members of the orthopedics care team. This certification recognizes that the programs are focusing on three areas, including:

  • Compliance with consensus-based national standards
  • Effective and consistent use of appropriate, evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the hip, knee, or shoulder replacement patient population
  • Collection and analysis of a minimum of four performance measures specific to the hip, knee, or shoulder replacement patient population (a minimum of two performance measures must be clinical in nature).

We are seeing an increasing number of patients who are searching for hospitals where joint replacements are performed. The Joint Commission certification means we are dedicated to performance excellence and that they can trust us as a health care provider.

For nurses, the Joint Academy and Methodist Health System’s commitment to having Joint Commission certification is a differentiator that means solid clinical practice guidelines and a shared governance model. The more the employees know about the joint replacement program, the more they will engage with their patients. An educated patient is an empowered patient, so the more they understand about the surgery, the better they’ll do in the recovery phase.

The Joint Academy means improved teamwork, better outcomes for patients, and a positive work environment. That translates into:

  • A collaborative working environment among surgeons, nurses, and ancillary staff
  • Reduced variation between physicians and other caregivers to deliver more consistent, coordinated care
  • Shared responsibility and accountability
  • Informed patients who are more accountable for their care and whose expectations have been set and managed properly
  • Healthier patient outcomes.

I’ve been a member of the Methodist family for 14 years. I can truly say that I love my job and I learn something new every day. The culture is friendly and everyone is willing to help each other. The joint replacement team at Methodist is a cohesive and collaborative group who takes pride in their work.

The Joint Academy is one more way we’re creating a better experience for our patients and the people who care for them. To learn how to brighten your career, visit us at

© Methodist Health System


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Step It Up in 2015!

By Carrie Camin
Assistant Vice President, Wellness
Methodist Health System

I think King Julien from the “Madagascar” movies has the right idea for a 2015 resolution — move it! Making the New Year an active one could well be one of the healthiest ways to pave the road ahead.

Research has shown the overwhelming positive effects of regular activity. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, though. A casual bike ride or a walk around the neighborhood with a friend can be as beneficial as more strenuous exercise that can lead to possible injuries later in life. Cardiovascular exercise keeps the old ticker in tune and is critical to improved overall well-being.

Another important component for a healthier 2015 is resistance training to build and maintain lean muscle mass. Not a member of a gym? That’s okay. You can easily set up resistance training routines around your home using stairs, light weights, or floor exercises such as straight leg raises and planks.

Regular activity has many positive benefits:

  • Promotes good cholesterol, which can help you avoid the costly effects of
    chronic illness
  • Boosts metabolism and increases circulation throughout your body
  • Enhances your mood so you feel better about yourself and your health
  • Improves your ability to be a better spouse, friend, or co-worker as your
    mood-elevating endorphins get a boost
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves your chances for an extended quality of life by helping you stay
    mobile, maintain your balance, and improve your flexibility to help you
    remain independent.

Did you know that regular activity has been correlated to extended life expectancy? According to research*, you’ll get an extra 1.8 years from 75 minutes of brisk walking
per week, 3.4 additional years from 150 to 299 minutes of brisk walking per week, an
extra 4.5 years from 450 minutes, as well as an eye-popping 7.2 years by maintaining a healthy weight.

But if activity is so beneficial and physicians routinely recommend it to their patients for weight loss and lower cholesterol, then why aren’t more people moving it? According to some experts, the obvious benefits of activity often take months to become apparent. This runs counter to our instant-gratification society that wants immediate payoff for hard work and exercise.

The rule of thumb to follow is at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Ready to get moving? Here are some tips for getting active in 2015:

  • Start with walking and walk every day.
  • Have a dog? Walk your dog 15 minutes, twice a day.
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator.
  • Participate in an exercise-related activity you enjoy such as dance, yoga, or sports.
  • Even gardening, cleaning house, and doing yard work count toward your activity!

To round out your resolutions for a healthier 2015, use the other building blocks:

  • Nutrition keeps your engine moving, so you have to supply it with the right kind of fuel. Keep it simple. Eat things that have fewer than four ingredients. Buy items on the perimeter of the grocery store such as fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Most moderate exercise burns about 10 calories per minute, so if you walk for 30 minutes, you’ll only burn 300 calories. Remember that activity should not be viewed as license to increase your normal caloric intake.
  • Rest. Getting plenty of rest — seven to eight hours per night — to help you deal better with stressful situations and stay more mentally alert.
  • Hydration. Water is a major component of our bodies. Drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day keeps us in balance. Having a glass of water before eating also tames hunger.

Finally, give up the guilt. It’s the primary barrier that keeps us from reaching our well-being goals. Focus on what you do well and what you’ve achieved. Dwelling on an indulgence or skipped workout won’t help you achieve your goals. Put things in perspective and take every opportunity to celebrate.

If you’re ready to get moving and achieve your career goals, it’s time to choose Methodist Health System. Learn more by visiting

© Methodist Health System


*Source: Research collaboration between the U.S.-based Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the National Cancer Institute quantified how much longer people can live depending on the levels of exercise they engage in.

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The Untold Story About the Making of a Level I Trauma Center

By Michael S. Truitt, MD, Medical Director of Trauma Services
Methodist Dallas Medical Center

If you’re a nurse and your passion is caring for patients who have experienced major trauma, then you should consider expanding your career at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Why? I’m proud to say that Methodist Dallas has recently achieved verification as a Level I trauma center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Committee on Trauma (COT). This signifies that Methodist Dallas provides the highest level of trauma and emergency care available.

But it didn’t happen overnight. For more than 20 years, Methodist Dallas has served as a destination for trauma patients in the Dallas area as a Level II trauma center, and our patient outcomes have been outstanding. During this time, the ACS repeatedly noted in our reviews that we were functioning at the highest end of Level II status, seeing more than 1,800 trauma patients annually. As the only trauma center in southern Dallas County and a regional referral center for other hospitals in North Texas, the critical care demands were growing.

As a result, the Methodist Health System board of directors and executive leadership began planning for a new critical care tower for the Methodist Dallas campus to meet the growing needs of the community. As our critical care capacity grew, the logical next step was to elevate our trauma program to achieve the Level 1 trauma center status.

How are we different from other trauma centers? As the medical director of trauma services and someone who works side by side with our staff, I know how valuable our nurses are. In fact, in my opinion, our nurses are the foundation of exceptional trauma care. And the nurses at Methodist are some of the most talented, dedicated nurses I have ever known. The acuity of our patients is one of the main reasons nurses want to work with us, but it’s also the culture and spirit of collaboration. For every one physician who comes into contact with a patient, there may be 20 or 30 nurses also touching that patient. We respect what each team member contributes to help save lives, and we continually work together to deliver the highest quality of care to our patients.

Becoming a Level I trauma center required a complete team effort with our physicians, nurses, administration, and the board of trustees and support from the community. But what’s a Level I designation really require? Here’s what Methodist Dallas is doing to meet some of COT’s rigid requirements:

  • Publish trauma research papers in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Sponsor outreach and injury-prevention programs such as geriatric nursing home programs to prevent falls, programs to reduce speed limits in areas with high accident rates, and more.
  • Provide a comprehensive 24/7 surgeon-led surgical service in the ICU, plus we started a critical care fellowship.
  • Expand the breadth of services, so we’ve hired additional neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and interventional radiologists, and we’ve developed and refined protocols to take care of urgent and emergent medical conditions.
  • We use our performance improvement programs to continuously monitor our outcomes, looking at things like mechanism of injury, how patients present, and how our trauma center’s outcomes compare to national benchmarks.

None of this would have been possible were it not for the efforts of Ernest Dunn, MD, the program director of Methodist Dallas’ general surgery program. He is the father of the trauma program at Methodist Dallas and steered it to Level II status. We owe him a large debt of gratitude for his foresight and unwavering commitment to trauma care.

If you want to join the legacy of excellence in trauma care, it’s time to choose Methodist Health System. Learn more by visiting

© Methodist Health System


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