Emory Healthcare: A Culture of Learning

Toni and Beth

"I never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.” This is one of the many poignant phrases left to us by long-passed Florence Nightingale (1820-1910); however, simply reading those words suggests that if Nightingale found herself rounding with nurses today, she would still be a mentor, team member, leader and, possibly, a clinical nurse specialist. In particular, she would find herself in good company with Emory Healthcare's Toni Johnson, MSN, RN, CPAN (left), and Beth Parsons, RN, MSN, CNOR (right), two of the organization’s stellar perioperative clinical nurse specialists.

As clinical nurse specialists at Emory Healthcare, Toni and Beth provide leadership in collaboration with health care teams to define and integrate best practice models.They serve as experts in clinical practice, education and research, while improving patient outcomes by identifying processes that promote high-quality, cost-effective patient care.

“Our goal is advancing nursing practice and ensuring successful patient outcomes,” says Toni, who has been in the nursing field for more than 20 years and with Emory Healthcare for two and a half. “Our patients and nurses flourish within the Synergy Model of Care, where patients’ characteristics drive nurses’ competencies, thus improving patient outcomes.”

“My role as a clinical nurse specialist has challenged me to reach for a higher level, so I can intervene in an optimal way. The more experience and knowledge you have, the better you can do that,” says Beth, who has honed her skills during her 30-year nursing career, 18 of which have been at Emory Healthcare.

Guiding Growth

Just as Florence Nightingale spoke of urging a beginning, Toni and Beth are continually connected to modeling, coaching and mentoring fellow team members and students. In fact, they assist with an annual systemwide skills fair and lead three different nursing residency programs – OR, endoscopy and PACU. “The skills fair allows nurses the opportunity to validate and challenge their skills,” explains Toni. “And during our residency programs, we immerse our residents in our culture to help them obtain wonderful exposure. We work one-on-one with them every day, helping them become well-rounded nurses.”

“I can remember watching some of my residents take their last step to independence,” comments Beth. “It is so exciting every time! They have come so far and developed courage, confidence and knowledge. Having the chance to build nurses into a specialty is a moving experience.”

Toni and Beth also work closely with nursing students. In fact, to help decrease some of the intimidation of the operating room, students often have a chance to scrub in and get close to the action. They are encouraged to ask questions, and Beth even holds 30-minute mini-classes with them on basic principles of success – from creating a sterile environment to making sure they fuel their bodies with breakfast to ensure their glucose levels are ready when they need to respond in a stressful situation.

The Opportunity to Grow

“At Emory Healthcare, there is a lot of opportunity for professional advancement and growth,” explains Toni. “I discover a different challenge every day. In fact, I seek them out and welcome them. I am proud to be a part of something special.”

Beth concurs. “We are always at the forefront of care here. It seems as though we’re always doing something here that other places are still five years off from doing.

“Furthermore, I have always had the opportunity to grow here … stretch and learn new things. I love the people here, and I love my job. From the very beginning of my career here at Emory Healthcare, I have been able to follow my own path.”

And as Toni and Beth continue on in their careers, they will continue to find that they not only have the chance to support new beginnings in others, but can also expand on their own careers. Learning never ends at Emory Healthcare; it simply grows in new ways – rooted within and on solid ground.