Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mass General Heart Center nurse honored as national leader in mentoring

Vivian Donahue, RN, BC-CNS, CCRN

Mass General nurses have long been lauded for their commitment to patients and to advancing the profession. Vivian Donahue, RN, BC-CNS, CCRN, clinical nurse specialist (CNS) in the Mass General Heart Center, recently garnered individual honors when she was named a 2010 Excellence Award Winner for the New England region in the "Mentoring" category by Nursing Spectrum.

Donahue has been a CNS for the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Mass General for nearly six years, but she brings nearly 30 years of experience to work with her each day. As a CNS, Donahue addresses the clinical needs of the staff, providing mentoring and support to her nursing colleagues on the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.

"I support the staff so they are able to do what they do best, which is taking care of the patients," she says.

Clinical nurse specialists are experts in the field in which they work. They serve as leaders, educators and consultants to staff on a wide range of practices and care processes at the patient care unit level and beyond. They are ultimately responsible for the professional development of the staff and the orientation and integration of new staff to the patient care unit.

Mentoring younger nurses and her colleagues has become one of the most fulfilling parts of Donahue's job, and she has used her insights and experiences to become a national leader in the field. She is a trusted advisor for board members of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. She also contributed a chapter called "Finding a Mentor" to the book Clinical Nurse Specialist Toolkit: A Guide for the Clinical Nurse Specialist.

"At its core, being a CNS is about expertise and because Vivian brought such a high level of expertise to the position she was able to earn the trust and respect of the staff," says Colleen Snydeman RN, nurse director for the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. "Her ability to gain that trust right away and establish strong bonds and mentoring relationships helped us to successfully implement new initiatives and direct staff in their development."

Donahue feels fortunate to have arrived at Mass General. She was working in cardiac care at a community hospital when she was hired by Mass General's Knight Cardiac Catheterization Lab. She later joined the staff in the Cardiac ICU. In 2003, she earned her master's degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston's College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

"The culture here is one that promotes professional growth and development. I have been very fortunate that many wonderful colleagues have mentored and supported me during my career, and now I have the opportunity to influence the new nurses and continue that cycle," Donahue says.

The Nursing Spectrum Excellence Awards is a national program that recognizes the extraordinary contributions nurses make to their patients, to one another, and to the profession. Nurses are nominated in six different categories: Advancing and Leading the Profession, Clinical Care, Community Service, Management, Mentoring and Teaching. Having won her category, Donahue is eligible for National Nurse of the Year honors, which will be award this fall.

"To have the support of leadership and staff here is very humbling," says Donahue. "I am so appreciative of the dedicated, professional staff we have, and I am here because of the opportunities and support they have provided."

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