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“This is home…our home.” For Nelly and Bruce Bauss, HCGH has come to feel like home to them. Both are registered nurses, Nelly on the Special Care Unit and Bruce in the Float Pool, and both came to their roles with help and support from HCGH while working in nonclinical positions.
The New York City natives met and married a few years after high school and, for many years, Bruce worked in management in a number of industries while Nelly was a stay-at-home mom to their four children. As the children got older, Nelly began working at HCGH in Health Information Management in 2001. She had always wanted to be a nurse, but thought it might be too late to fulfill that dream. Nevertheless, she began taking classes toward that goal, using HCGH’s tuition assistance program and eventually entered Howard Community College’s (HCC) Nursing Program.
“My (HIM) supervisor was so supportive and I was able to work around my school schedule,” she explained. That flexibility continued when Nelly entered the hospital’s Patient Care Technician (PCT) extern program, which trains current nursing students to work as PCTs while still in school. “The program is great because your work schedule accommodates your school schedule,” she said. “Not to mention that the experience really helped with my transition to the nursing role.” The path to Bruce’s nursing career took a more indirect route. While helping Nelly study, Bruce became interested in health care. Although he was a successful businessman, he said, “I had a sense that my career was not meeting my personal needs. I wanted to do something more meaningful.” A series of events in September 2005, including Hurricane Katrina and an unexpected discussion with the dean of a nursing school, led him to start on the path to a nursing degree. However, after completing his prerequisites and being accepted into nursing school, he decided to take another job, this time in banking.
During the 2008 economic downturn, Bruce lost that job and the signs again pointed him toward health care. He began working as an admitting counselor in the HCGH Emergency Department and discovered he enjoyed the atmosphere and decided to apply again to nursing school. Not only was he accepted, but he received the Hoerich scholarship, administered by the Howard Hospital Foundation, which covered tuition, books and fees. While he continued as an admitting counselor, Bruce earned his nursing degree in 13 months through HCC’s Accelerated Nursing Program.
Both Nelly and Bruce credit HCGH’s RN Fellowship program for new nursing graduates with helping them adapt to their nursing careers. The fellowship, which lasts one year, has three phases during which graduates become progressively independent with guidance from mentors and clinical educators. “The program is very supportive of new graduates,” said Nelly. “Many hospitals don’t have a program like this; the Clinical Education staff who run the program really know their stuff and they go out of their way to make time for you as a group and individually.”