Ten years ago, Adrian Brooks, BSN, was stationed halfway around the world near the front lines of the Persian Gulf War. “I was a nurse with the Air Force’s air transportable hospital, which was brought in on six airplanes,” said Brooks (pictured, page 4). “To care for the troops, we had an operating room with two tables, laboratory, X-ray unit and two 25-bed wards, all of which we set up in tents.”
Today, this New Jersey native is among the latest nursing recruits to BWH. After retiring last October from the U.S. Air Force Reserve as a major, within two months Brooks joined the staff of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit on Tower 7C. Why BWH? “I attended an open house and was very impressed,” he said. “There are such great growth opportunities.”
Since October, BWH has hired more than 185 nurses. Spearheading the effort is Regina Cullen, nurse recruiter in the Department of Human Resources, who works closely with HR Vice President Cheryl Locke, the HR generalists and other staff; also Nancy Hickey, MS, RN, director of Personnel and Resource Applications in Nursing Administration, and the nurse managers throughout the hospital.
“Considering the national shortage of nurses, particularly in critical care, the operating room and emergency services, BWH does very well,” said Cullen. “The hospital’s outstanding reputation attracts nurses from all parts of the world.” Many come from New England, but it is not unusual to hire nurses from Florida, Texas or California, or as far away as Australia.
“To meet staffing needs, our nursing recruitment program is creative and aggressive, but hospital turnover is actually low,” Cullen added. “Job openings often are generated by hospital growth and our own nurses advancing internally.”
BWH publishes invitation-style ads in newspapers and Nursing Spectrum, inviting potential recruits to walk-in events. Held every two or three months, these forums feature tours and a chance to meet nurse managers and other unit staff. Between 100 and 150 prospects typically attend. There is also an open house held each year on a Saturday in April.
In addition, Cullen visits professional conferences and nursing schools throughout the country, promoting BWH’s international reputation and competitive salaries. She highlights the training and education programs for professional advancement: the $2,600 annual tuition reimbursement for part-time and full-time staff, collaborative programs with area colleges leading to advanced degrees and credentials and the convenience of on-site conferences, symposiums and in-services for earning continuing education credits.
Nurses in other states are often referred by physicians with current or former ties to BWH. Looking to make a solid career move after his Air Force years, Brooks had heard good things about BWH from many sources, including his wife, Maryellen Brooks, MD, an internist who refers patients from her practice in southern New Hampshire.
Since 1992, when he left full-time military service, Adrian first worked in an ICU in a hospital in New Hampshire, followed by an orthopedic surgical center in another New Hampshire town.
The flexible hours give him the opportunity to continue with the Air Force Reserve, transporting military staff and their families between a hospital in Washington, D.C., and bases in Iceland, Germany and Portugal. Now holding a pilot’s license for small aircraft, he continues to get airborne, sometimes wishing he could negotiate the I-93 commute from New Hampshire to BWH as easily.
Advancing into critical care
A recent BWH newspaper advertisement was perfect timing for Melissa Kapetanios, BSN. This Worcester native had completed her nursing studies in 1998 at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. After working at another Boston teaching hospital in a cardiac step-down unit for two years, she was looking to transition into critical care. “What attracted me to BWH was its extensive orientation program and on-the-job training in cardiac intensive care,” she said.
Beginning last October, her training went into high gear: a week of general orientation, two weeks in an ICU consortium class, four weeks of courses, and four weeks assigned to a preceptor. “Melissa is a breath of fresh air in the unit, very motivated and competent — a star!” said nurse educator Kathleen Ryan Avery, RN, MSN, CCRN.
Was it a good career move? “I am extremely happy,” said Kapetanios. “The nurses here have been excellent teachers and extremely supportive.”
Just starting out
Lillian O’Leary, RN, came to BWH through another route — the Employee Referral Program — after being spotted by an alert nurse educator. “I was attending my niece’s graduation at Mass Bay College last June, when this nursing graduate walked up on the stage with her 2-month-old baby and delivered an impressive valedictorian address,” said Barbara (Bonnie) Grady, RN, BSN. “I walked up to her and asked if she would consider coming to BWH. She has been a shining light ever since.” O’Leary is among several outstanding new recruits in the medical step-down units on Tower 14CD, according to nurse manager Maureen Curley, RN, MSN.
A native of Ireland, O’Leary came to the United States with her husband in 1997, hoping to find employment. She had 10 years of experience in business administration but no college degrees. “Once I realized I needed to go to school, I decided to do what I’ve always wanted— become a nurse.”
In the future, O’Leary hopes to earn a BSN at UMass-Boston and perhaps get her MSN. But for now, working part-time at BWH is ideal for managing the child care of little Jack, who will celebrate his first birthday in March during a family visit to Ireland.
Do you know a nurse who would consider joining BWH? Any employee who provides a referral leading to the hiring of a nurse is eligible to receive a $500 bonus (referral bonuses also are available for helping to fill other staff positions). For more information, please contact Regina Cullen’s assistant, Stacey Stratton, at ext. 7722.