8600 Old Georgetown Road | Bethesda, MD 20814
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New Directions

Issue: Summer

Certified Nurse Interviews

(l-r) Andee Ragbir, BSN, RN, ONC, Elizabeth W. Tordella, MS, RN-BC, Virginia Schad, BSN, RN, CEN and Pia Rena, BSN, RN,CNOR
Andee Ragbir, BSN, RN, ONC
Assistant Nurse Manager
Ortho-Neuro-Trauma Unit

“About seven years ago, I was the first nurse on our Ortho-Neuro-Trauma Unit to become certified,” says Andee Ragbir, who joined Suburban Hospital 27 years ago and now serves on the Nursing Quality, Safety, Service Council. “I have worked hard to be a role model and to mentor other nurses on my unit who want to prepare for the certification exam. We now have much more participation in the process; this past year, three additional nurses on our team became certified.

“Being certified in my specialty helps to build my confidence in my nursing skills and also builds my patients’ confidence in my skills. Our patients often come and go quickly, but there is a lot of positive energy on our unit because we know we have prepared them to return to their families and the activities they love.”

Elizabeth W. Tordella, MS, RN-BC
Behavioral Health

“When I started in nursing school, they told us you always had to keep learning, and I took that message very seriously,” says Elizabeth Tordella, who chairs the hospital’s Nursing Evidence-based Practice and Research Council and is now pursuing a Ph.D. degree.

“Being certified in psychiatric nursing helps me feel secure that I know how to care for patients with up-to-date knowledge and tools. The certification itself is not an end point, but rather, part of a continuous process of keeping your skills and knowledge current. Psychiatric nursing has changed a lot over the past couple of decades. We have more knowledge about human behavior and brain chemistry and there are many new, more effective medications. On the other hand, lengths of stay in the hospital are shorter and there are fewer resources in the community for our patients. So we want to be sure we prepare them to be successful once they are discharged, and we must do that faster.”

Virginia Schad, BSN, RN, CEN
Emergency Department

“For me, nursing certification suggests an increased level of professionalism and pride in what you do,” says Virginia Schad, who has worked in Suburban Hospital’s Emergency Department for 11 years and was certified 13 years ago. “By successfully completing the challenging exam, you have confidence that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide the best patient care.

“I am the chair of Suburban’s Professional Development Council, which is tasked with encouraging and celebrating certifications and advanced nursing education. We make sure nurses know what hospital resources are available to assist them, such as funding to take the exam and study guides they can borrow. Much of the encouragement, however, is less formal — like setting up study groups and a buddy system so that nurses can support each other. We have found that the camaraderie is even more powerful than any formal support system.

“I love emergency nursing because you never live the same day twice. And my certification indicates that I take this job very seriously.”

Pia Rena, BSN, RN,CNOR
Specialty Coordinator for Orthopedic Surgery

“My first certification was in orthopedic nursing, and later I became certified in perioperative nursing,” explains Pia Rena, who joined Suburban five years ago and has been certified for nine years. “The certification has better prepared me for my role in the Operating Room, where I coordinate O.R. staff, surgeons, technology and instruments for each patient’s surgical procedure.

“For me, certification shows that you are personally taking that extra step for professional growth and that you were willing to put in the effort to move forward with your education. I think learning that I’m certified gives my patients more peace of mind, knowing that I took the initiative to ensure that my skills are up to date. There was definitely new material that I needed to learn in order to become certified, so it really did expand my knowledge base.”

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