Department Spotlight: Medical-Surgical Nursing
May 31, 2023
The title of “largest nursing specialty in the country” belongs to medical-surgical nursing (commonly known as “med-surg”). Devoted to providing care for patients with a variety of health conditions and who are preparing for or recovering from surgery, this ever-popular nursing niche attracts impassioned, talented individuals who make a genuine difference in the health and well-being of every patient.
Med-surg nurses at Renown Health emulate this dedication and more. From general surgery to oncology and orthopedics, the med-surg team at Renown Regional Medical Center and Renown South Meadows Medical Center play a critical role in our care delivery for patients facing challenging diagnoses or procedures. Their ability to seamlessly juggle multiple tasks while providing the highest quality of care makes them excellent patient advocates, guiding them through the path to healing.
High-Paced with High Results
Our med-surg team has the ability and willingness to provide high-caliber nursing for patients with virtually any medical condition – orthopedic injury, trauma surgery, infections, sepsis, pulmonary disease, you name it. No matter the diagnosis or procedure, med-surg has the experience and enthusiasm to handle the fast nature of the job well.
Med-surg nurses are always on the go, handling a growing list of conditions together as a team. They work side by side to assess each patient’s condition and assist with both education and discharge planning for patients and families.
“Med-surg is a high-paced and unpredictable environment with the largest variety of diagnoses and patient populations,” said Danyel Gish, Manager of Nursing at Renown Regional. “Every patient is everyone’s patient in med-surg. We help each other by answering each other’s call lights, communicate clear expectations and build strong trusting relationships with one another.”
“You never know what kind of disease or conditions your patient may present with,” added Brittani Manatt, Registered Nurse in the Cancer Nursing Unit at Renown Regional. “We care for patients with almost any medical diagnosis.”
Being admitted to the hospital, regardless of the reason, can be a scary and vulnerable time for anyone. However, patients can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their competent and confident med-surg nurses are here by their side before and after they experience surgery or treatment.
“We communicate with our patients at every step of their care journey to ensure they understand what is going on and help alleviate any fears or concerns,” said Jenni Gilligan, Associate Nurse Manager at Renown South Meadows. “Some of my tips include asking the patient how they are feeling and validating those feelings; getting them and their families and friends involved in the process; and ensuring them that we are here for them and will take the best possible care of them."
“What we do as a team to reduce patients’ fears revolves around clear communication and support, whether it’s grabbing them a Starbucks drink, taking them outside for a walk or simply just listening to their concerns,” added Rose Simonian, Supervisor of Clinical Nursing at Renown Regional. “Connecting with our patients through kindness and laughter helps alleviate some of the anxiety that comes with being in the hospital.”
Jenni and Rose are exactly right – that clear communication is the “secret sauce” to success within the med-surg team. Their patients are the direct beneficiaries of this crucial skill.
“Everything we do throughout our shift focuses on teamwork and communication, making sure every piece of our plan comes together for optimal patient care,” said Cristina Vazquez, Registered Nurse at Renown Regional.
“We collaborate a lot within each healthcare team,” added Reena Clark, Registered Nurse at Renown South Meadows. “We also make sure the patients participate and are involved in their plan of care. This is important to set a common goal and help each other achieve that goal for the patient. The nurses on the floor are the eyes, ears and hands of inpatient care."
When faced with a daunting diagnosis or procedure, it’s important to have a strong support system within your personal care team, cheering you on every step of the way. Our med-surg team members are masters at this, finding new ways to connect with patients and help them feel empowered to Fight the Good Fight.
“We always try to find something that the patient loves or is passionate about that helps shift their mindset,” said Paola Espinoza-Patino, Associate Nurse Manager in the Cancer Nursing Unit at Renown Regional. “It will help them focus their attention on something that brings them joy, even if it’s for a short period of time. This helps them let their guard down and trust the team. We are here to take the best care of them as possible.”
"Med-surg provides a safe place to openly discuss any fears or anxieties a patient may be experiencing,” added Danyel Gish. “Our nurses are kind, compassionate and highly-trained professionals that work hand-in-hand with our patients to maintain their safety and wellness. We understand that being in the hospital can be a difficult experience, but we work hard to provide a calming presence and reassurance. We identify different ways to connect with our patients by holding their hands, listening, educating and providing individualized care and interventions.”
Much like many other departments across Renown, for med-surg, their patients’ accomplishments are their accomplishments. Witnessing one of their patients reach a significant milestone in their healthcare journey inspires them to continue doing what they do best: provide care driven by equal parts determination and hope.
“The biggest accomplishment for me is seeing a patient complete their last round of chemotherapy with us and getting to ring our ‘Chemo Bell,’” added Trevor Owens, Unit Clerk at the William N. Pennington Cancer Institute. “There is no greater joy than witnessing the happiness and relief of a patient completing a step in their healthcare journey."
Working tirelessly to provide exceptional care to every patient – and celebrating all their wins along the way – alongside their dedication to Renown’s cultural commitments of Caring and Collaboration are what make our med-surg nurses prosper day-in, day-out.
The Med-Surg Journey
Med-surg is the most popular nursing specialty in the United States, yet many nurses don't start their careers in this area. For a good portion of this team, an inciting moment, experience or feeling drove them to this field.
“I started my career as a nurse not knowing for sure where I wanted to work or what kind of nurse I wanted to be; luckily fate knew exactly where I needed to be,” said Brittny Lewallen, Manager of Nursing at Renown Regional. “I started in the general surgery unit as a nurse apprentice. The patient population and family of coworkers is just what I needed to find fulfillment, support and continued growth.”
“Six years ago, I started my journey on the General Surgical Unit at Renown South Meadows after a friend and coworker had transferred down here and suggested that I should check it out,” added Jenni Gilligan. “When I arrived for my shadow shift, everyone was warm and welcoming. Even through all our ups and downs, the pandemic and staffing changes, we have remained a strong and cohesive unit.”
“I joined the med-surg team shortly after my mother’s passing here,” added Trevor Owens. “It didn’t take long to realize I wanted to be a part of the team that provides the most thoughtful patient care.”
The diversity in career backgrounds acts as a major benefit to the med-surg team, as they come to the hospital with a collective wealth of knowledge across the healthcare continuum. Patients have the added advantage of having care teams that are experts in a wide range of areas.
“The staff in med-surg come from a variety of backgrounds, including critical care, surgery, home health, childcare, behavioral health, travel nursing and even from no clinical background at all,” said Danyel Gish. “Staff choose to work in and stay in med-surg because of the phenomenal people they get to work with, the wide-spread experience they get and the supportive and friendly environment.”
“The diversity of patients we see, especially in oncology, provides us with an opportunity to be exposed to different patient populations and diagnoses,” added Brittani Manatt. “This is beneficial for staying up to date on skill development and potential interventions as well as preventing turnover.”
“We are very accepting and understand that everyone comes from different backgrounds and has their own point of view, but together we use these differences as advantages and work as a family," added Araceli Jimenez-Ruiz, Associate Nurse Manager at Renown Regional.
Renown proudly invests in our employees to help them grow in their careers, especially when it comes to leadership opportunities. These opportunities extend to med-surg, with several of their nursing leaders starting at the bedside.
“I knew I wanted to be a leader in this unit, and in order to do so, I needed the experience and expanded knowledge to support a team and patient population that I care about so deeply,” said Brittny Lewallen. “After a couple years of expanded growth and knowledge, I was able to come back as a leader to my home in the general surgery unit.”
Goal-oriented and success-driven, our med-surg team are devoted to reaching new heights and achieving new milestones when it comes to patient care – and it shows.
“The med-surg team is extremely proud of the work we have done to improve our quality, length of stay and patient experience,” said Danyel Gish. “We continually focus on decreasing our fall and pressure injury rates, collaborate to discharge our patients in a safe and timely manner and recognize the little things that matter most to each individual patient. We have won Daisy Awards for our collaboration and dedication to our work."
“We received our reaccreditation from the Joint Commission for our total joint program after a very successful survey,” added Jenni Gilligan. “We are currently working diligently to improve patient and staff satisfaction by improving responsiveness and decreasing the amount of call lights on the unit. We have worked hard at this with bedside report, hourly rounding and ensuring patients that we will return within a certain time frame to assist them. This has improved patient satisfaction, and we are meeting their needs in a timelier manner."
This dedication that Danyel mentions surpasses hospital walls, impacting patients and their livelihoods after discharge and beyond.
Join the Good Fight
Any nursing professional looking for an immersive career experience can look no further than Renown. Not only do our team members move mountains for their patients, but they also move mountains for each other.
“The teamwork in med-surg is second to none,” said Danyel Gish. “Our culture is often described as ‘family, collaborative, inclusive, transparent, supportive and nurturing.’ It is an exciting and rewarding place to work, and it is the perfect area to build a strong foundation. A good coworker is willing to help and is empathetic, compassionate and enjoys the fast-paced environment. We are all in this together!”
"It’s important to come in with a positive mind and commitment to your work, remaining open to helping our team grow and contribute to our success,” added Araceli Jimenez-Ruiz. “Our team is full of people who come to work not only to provide amazing patient care but also to support each other and help each other through those rough days. We enjoy those who are involved in our morale events and want to participate in and outside of work. We do a lot of fun activities like lake days in the summer, BBQs, fundraising and get-togethers at local restaurants. We are like family and really enjoy new employees who want to be a part of it.”
So, who would make a good fellow colleague on this dynamic team? According to Jenni Gilligan and Paola Espinoza-Patino, positivity, teamwork and mutual respect are key.
“We are all team players and reach out to help one another without hesitation,” said Jenni Gilligan. “We want each other to be successful and have the ability to provide the best patient care. We also look out for one another and make sure that we are taking care of ourselves.”
“A good coworker is someone who is a team player and has a positive attitude,” added Paola Espinoza-Patino. “Not every day will go smoothly, but the team you have can make or break your day. The attitude you come with from the minute you arrive at work can affect your team. Knowing and acknowledging that provides a great team environment with open and respectful communication.”
Not an expert? Not a problem. If you are confident in your nursing skills and are drawn to the patient experience in a med-surg environment, this is the team for you.
“I tell new nurses all the time that in order to be a well-rounded expert in any specialty, you first need to know how to be a nurse,” said Brittny Lewallen. “You need to understand the overall physiological reaction, diversity and patient experience that makes up our med-surg population. We don’t start out as experts, but we become experts by starting with the essential concepts of nursing, and then we grow from there. Med-surg is that all-encompassing platform.”
Any interested candidate is encouraged to embark on a transformative journey in med-surg and make a profound impact on patients’ lives, shaping the landscape of care at Renown.
“I'm truly grateful that I have the coworkers that I do and am fortunate to have a good working environment,” said Reena Clark. “Med-surg at Renown South Meadows has given me that opportunity.”
“Med-surg is an amazing place to work, dedicated to going above and beyond for our patients. You will truly see and experience a little bit of everything!” closes Danyel Gish.