September 23, 2017

Six Mission Nurses Named to Great 100, Nominated by their peers


At Mission, we know we have great nurses. Since 1990, 161 have been honored as Great 100 NC nurses. That’s why we’re so proud to include this year’s six Mission nurses to that total. To be singled out by their peers is an honor in itself, but these nurses will also be honored at a reception here at Mission on Monday, October 17, 12:30 – 2:30 pm in the Orthopedic Conference Room, and a formal gala on October 22 in Greensboro. These RNs were chosen by their peers to be honored as some of the best nurses in North Carolina.

“The learning really begins when you get out of school, and it never stops,” says Joy Brooks, RN, CEN in the Emergency Department. She began her career as a caregiver early. As a teenager, Brooks cared for her elderly grandfather, and the satisfaction it gave her led her to nursing. It also prepared her for the challenges of the career. “Nursing is very hard work; it’s not for the faint of heart, but it gives back numerous rewards.”

The satisfaction of being part of a team that saves lives is one of those rewards. Brooks remembers taking care of a teenager who suffered serious injuries in a car crash. Six months later his father brought him to the Emergency Department to meet her and to thank her for saving his life.

Brooks has been a member of several Nursing Councils, including Nursing Quality Control and the Clinical Ladder. She received the Geriatric Resource Nurse of the Year in 2010, and she is currently working toward her BSN at Gardner-Webb University with plans to graduate in 2012.

She is both humbled and honored to be chosen as a Great 100 Nurse. “I am overwhelmed that my peers thought highly enough of me to nominate me for this award. I work with a great team in the ED; they are like my family, and want this to represent them as well.”

Shae Lynn Byas, RN, CPN, a pediatric orthopedic nurse at Mission Children’s Specialists, advises other nurses to “Know that you can do anything you put your mind to, and try to learn something new every day. It’s also okay to cry with your patients.”

On a given day, Byas might triage calls, check in patients, apply or remove casts, and help the doctor as needed. Previous to this position, she loved her role as nurse “floater.” “I loved working with everyone. It made me see how everyone did things, and it helped me become well-rounded.” In addition to her orthopedic duties, she serves as the President of the Retention and Recruitment Council at MCS, and sits on the Education and Nurse Practice Councils. Earlier this year Byas received the DAISY Award for extraordinary nurses.

As a little girl, Byas wanted to be a pediatrician, but she started with nursing and found it to be her true calling. “I love the patient care that only nursing can provide,” she says.

“There’s nothing like the feeling that you CAN make a difference in the world, one person at a time.”

Bryanna Gibbs, RN, BSN, PCCN, of 9 Step Down, is a full time staff nurse for cardiovascular progressive care patients. She serves as chair of the Nursing Professional Development Council and the Nursing Governance Board.

“Keep yourself inspired by connections with your patients,” says Gibbs. A winner of the DAISY award for extraordinary nurses earlier this year, Gibbs counts a hug from the patient who nominated her as one of her career highlights.

“Nursing is incredibly challenging and we need to stay focused on the patients and families, and keep a positive attitude in this ever changing health care world,” says Gibbs. “We make such an impact; to care for others with humor, gentleness, and compassion… that’s what drew me to nursing.”

“It’s never dull unless you want it to be,” says Denise Mollenkopf, RN, MSN, FNP-BC, a nurse practitioner at Mission Children’s Specialists. “There are many career options, and you meet great people.” Her love of science and medicine and a desire to make a difference in people’s lives made her choose nursing as a career.

She is a member of the Mission Children’s Specialists Practice Operating Committee, and Who’s Who in American Nursing.

Mollenkopf advises new nurses to work on a medical or surgical unit for at least a year before working in a specialty. “That year will be a foundation you will always use,” she says. She divides her time between two departments, the Children’s Dental Program and Mission Developmental Follow Up. “I could not do my job well without so many other individuals who work hard and care for the children and families.”

It’s a challenge for Mollenkopf to recall her favorite nursing memory. “There are many,” she says. “A simple ‘thank you’ from patients and their families is the best.”

Cheryl Postlewaite, MSN, RN, CWOCN, of the Wound Care Center advises other nurses to “learn to take good care of yourself and pursue varied interests outside of work.” When Postlewaite’s husband suffered a stroke three years ago, self-care went from being a luxury to an essential. “Being a nurse 24/7 is not a good thing for anyone’s mental health,” she says. She tries to include a few non-nurses in her circle of friends (“so we don’t spend too much time talking shop”) and together they enjoy spa visits, shopping, going out for a glass of wine, or checking out the drum circle.

In 1998, Postlewaite received the Circle of Excellence Award in Education and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau.

What about nurses who find themselves “in a rut”? “There are always opportunities to renew yourself as the years pass by trying new specialties and getting more education.” She practices what she preaches. In 1985 she earned her ADN, and went on to earn her MSN as an Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist in 1995. She completed the Emory University WOCN-ET program in December 2000. She is currently working with Ob/Gyn Kellett Letson, MD, to develop a research project to reduce the incidence of Caesarean delivery wound disruption in mothers who are obese.

Kitty S. Ratzlaff, MA, BSN, CGRN, loves the opportunity to combine people skills with learning the ever-changing technology. In her role in Mission’s Endoscopy Department, she has the opportunity to work with both the young and the not-so-young.

She is a member of the nursing Clinical Ladder Council and her unit-based education committee.

How can an experienced nurse renew his or her enthusiasm for the job? “Find someone to offer encouragement and guidance during their first year in nursing,” says Ratzlaff. If you’re a new nurse, Ratzlaff suggests finding a mentor; if you’re new at Mission, that means taking advantage of the mentoring program.

“This is a great profession! A nurse can go just about anywhere in the world and practice, and the variety of specialty areas is broad enough to meet almost anyone’s interests and talents.” Ratzlaff spent ten days in a medical clinic in Fiji, and she counts that experience as one of her nursing highlights. “It meant so much to help meet the needs of people who don’t normally have access to medical care. Making a difference in people’s lives motivates me to stay in nursing.”

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