As education coordinator at Stillwater Medical Center, Lea Brown, RN, is always looking for opportunities to make the environment better for the staff.

by James Coburn – staff writer

Students learn many tools needed to launch a successful career when graduating from nursing school. The first year of nursing can be tough. But it can be made easier with helpful training.
So, opportunities abound for them to receive a hands-on learning experience with patients at Stillwater Medical Center.
We try to give them the support they need and additional education,” said Lea Brown, RN, education coordinator at Stillwater Medical Center.
Graduates experience the culture of nursing care benefiting patients’ physical and emotional health as well as for each other as coworkers. (story continues below)


Brown’s role is to help orient all. She coordinates the learning management system and helps with certifications for required regulatory education and CPR training. Additionally, she helps navigate the vast experiences students encounter.
“It’s very important that we communicate at their level. With our culture we want to involve the patient as much as we can,” Brown said.
Students learn bedside shift reporting and about what their nursing care experience will be for the day, said Brown, a registered nurse for 24 years.
“What we see is they stay here. They apply for jobs here,” she said.
Nurses have opportunities to learn more about certain areas of health care such as the basics of the heart. Stillwater also has programs to help nurses with their professional development. Certifications focus the nurses’ areas of work. The hospital strives to help nurses in their career ladders. Nursing is a diverse field both in and out of hospital environments. At Stillwater Medical Center, they are given opportunities to advance in their careers seamlessly, according to personal interests.
“Most of our career ladders have different tiers, and each has their requirements,” Brown said. “One may ask you to get more continuing education and credits. It may mean being involved in a committee. It may mean getting your certification in your specialty. It may mean volunteering in community needs we have,” she said.
Higher tiers have more education requirements such as a bachelor’s in nursing or a master’s in nursing for nurses at bedside. There are several aspects that Stillwater Medical Center offers to enhance professional development. A critical care conference is offered. Nurses may attend the Stop the Bleed program that teaches how to respond to severe accidents such as car wrecks. They learn how to stop bleeding by using a tourniquet properly or by applying pressure to wounds and cuts.
Stillwater Medical Center also has a self-governance model empowering nurses to have more professional input at the bedside.
“If they’re the ones the decision affects the most, they should really be the one making the decision for themselves,” Brown continued.
They can be involved in their unit council’s decision making.
Brown is interested in solutions to reverse the nursing shortage in the state and nation.
“One of the things that I see as one of the solutions long-term, is creating a pipeline — how you can create an experience for the students that helps them develop and become an employee welcomed here,” she explained.
Stillwater Medical Center has established partnerships with nursing schools. Brown would like the hospital to establish partnerships with more schools to create more job titles. Students could earn credits while earning money with the hope that they like the department well enough to stay and grow in a career.
“I think one of the pieces that keeps me coming back is I try to grow myself, and as I grow myself, I can affect more people and patients by being involved. If you get certified, you bring that knowledge back and make the place you work better. I think if you see yourself on that positive trajectory, it does help — even though things are stressful and difficult right now — if you can seek help, that keeps you going. The person I can affect is me.”
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