Pilot program in otolaryngology builds nurse leadership skills

Nurse mentorship

From left, Melinda Eller, Jacqueline Childs, Morgan Heath, Maita Salvosa, Caroline Woodring and Dr. Kenneth Altman

Since being named vice chair for clinical affairs for the Department of Otolaryngology, Dr. Kenneth Altman has focused on new approaches to patient care, such as the creation of care teams that allow physicians, nurses and others to work together most effectively for patients. Now, he’s partnering with Baylor’s chief nursing officer, Melinda Eller, on a pilot program to build leadership skills among the nursing staff while still focusing on providing high-quality patient care.

The pilot Nurse Mentorship Program in otolaryngology has been launched with four nurses in the department – Jacqueline Childs, Morgan Heath, Maita Salvosa and Caroline Woodring. They met with Eller and Altman in June to discuss issues related to career development and to healthcare, taking on topics such as what drew them into nursing, career expectations, and what is their specific role in the department.

“What grew out of this discussion was the need to inspire a commitment to lifelong learning, explore ways to aid in career development and to help build team leadership skills,” Altman said. “One of the greatest things I can do as a leader in this department is to help with career development, and this program is a great step toward that.”

He emphasized that having a team of healthcare providers, including nurses, who understand and feel supported in their roles, will ultimately benefit patients.

The nurses will continue to meet regularly for mentoring breakfasts with department leadership and other healthcare professionals at Baylor, and, in addition, they will be more engaged in the department service lines, obtain training that will enable them to be involved in clinical research, maintain memberships in professional organizations, engage in continuing education and more. Childs has even written a post on Baylor’s blog on the effects of tobacco on the voice.

“The new program is outstanding,” Childs said. “The feeling of support by our physicians and nursing leadership is unparalleled. We work hard to foster a strong nursing culture, and they encourage us to continue professional development throughout our careers.”

The new program in otolaryngology is a great step in building a nursing culture throughout Baylor that focuses on leadership and continued education and training, Eller said.

“We are on a journey to grow and develop our nurses at Baylor,” she said. “Any time we can provide lifelong learning and leadership opportunities we have a greater chance to retain our nurses. They bring such value to our organization, and we want to make sure they know that.”