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Interview with a registered nurse

May 17, 2013

BY: Shannon Lee

Gina Holmes has served as a registered nurse since 1997. She currently works as a community health nurse for a non-profit program in southern Virginia. Her qualifications include:

  • Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) and three-year nursing diploma from a hospital program
  • Experience in numerous capacities, including hospital staff nurse, clinic, school nurse and head of a state hospital's Infectious Disease and Employee Health department

Q: What tasks do you spend most of your day doing?

A: Assessments, both physical and even more so, educational. I assess what educational, social, medical, transportation and basic needs my clients have and then try to meet them through our organization, donations or referrals.

Q: What skill sets do you feel you are building at your current role?

A: Definitely less of a clinical set of skills and more of a well-nursing model. We try to keep our clients healthy. I'm developing more teaching and referral skills than what I was used to in a hospital/clinic setting.

Q: What has been your career path (education and work experience)?

A: My education was an ASN along with a three-year nursing diploma through a hospital program that focused heavily on clinical skills. I have not gone back to school for a higher degree because I also work as a novelist and am a mom, and time just doesn't allow. Plus, I haven't really seen that paying off. My organization offers plenty of growth and educational opportunities. Plenty. They recently sent me to a seminar on getting certified to be a certified asthma educator. I will go to several other required training sessions in the next few months on domestic violence, substance abuse and teaching parents to teach their children. At least one of these is a week-long training session.

Q: What trends have you been noticing in nursing or the healthcare industry?

A: I think most nurses would say (myself included) that documentation requirements seem to trump actual patient care at times. This isn't so much the case in my current position, but definitely was a frustration in the clinical setting. We nurses spent so much time on documenting that we didn't always feel we had enough time with the patients. I don't think it was the establishment's fault. They were just clamoring, like everyone else, to prove they were providing standards of care.

Right now, with the changes in healthcare, we're even more concerned with making sure we are crossing our t's and dotting our i's on paper because funding requires evidence-based outcomes. This isn't a bad thing but I think all of us nurses wish healthcare were more about hands-on nursing and less about forms.

Q: How do nurses move up and get promoted?

A: This is a new position for me, and it's a small organization. There are a couple of supervisors that have been with the organization for a long time. From what I can tell, they have moved into their positions through experience and proven ability to lead. This organization has very well-educated leaders (from PhDs to master's degrees), and there are also a few associate degree-educated clinicians, as well as supervisors.