Spring 2021 Professional Nursing Advancement Program Recipients Honored

September 3, 2021

During the Nurses Day Conference 2021, held online on May 7, 2021, Nicole Visaggio, RN, and Teresa Henderson, BSN, RN, recognized recent recipients of McLean’s Professional Nursing Advancement Program (PNAP).

Recipients were presented in Tier 1 and Tier 2. As part of the application process for Tier 1, the recipients provided a clinical exemplar essay to showcase their proficiency in assessing patient needs, planning, and implementing nursing interventions while utilizing therapeutic communications techniques. Tier 2 recipients’ exemplars included instances of utilizing critical thinking skills and leadership capabilities.

Congratulations to the Spring 2021 recipients!

Below is the list of the recipients along with their nomination letters.

Tier 1

Kristina Hendron, RN, Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Inpatient Program – Nominated by Britney Glover, BSN, RN, Staff Nurse

It is my pleasure to highly recommend Kristina Hendron for the Professional Nurse Advancement Program at McLean Hospital.

Throughout our time working together on the schizophrenia and bipolar disorders unit as registered nurses, Kristina has displayed great talents in assessing patient’s needs, providing compassionate care, and effectively de-escalating in times of crisis. Kristina possesses the knowledge and ability to perform all duties as a nurse and is exceptionally gifted at making patients feel comfortable while maintaining a positive atmosphere. She leads by example and fosters a safe, therapeutic environment for patients and staff.

I first met Kristina following a sudden transition to AB2 [Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Inpatient Program] when the unit I worked on closed for the pandemic. I was immediately impressed by her ability to make new staff feel welcomed and inspired to provide excellent care. One of my first memories of Kristina was when she was working with a patient who had been in the hospital for almost a year. Due to the patient’s severe anxiety and depressive symptoms, it was very rare to see the patient on the milieu or engaging at length with anyone. Each shift, Kristina spent extra time building a therapeutic relationship by establishing shared goals, listening, and providing validation. I will never forget the genuine joy and excitement as she celebrated the little victories, such as an off-unit walk to a vending machine.

It is without hesitation that I recommend Kristina for the Professional Nurse Advancement Program. She is extremely motivated, hardworking, and compassionate in her nursing practice. She is a tremendous asset to our unit and I feel very fortunate to have her as my coworker, as she inspires me each day to better my practice.

Makayla Hourihan, RN, Community Reintegration Unit – Nominated by Michelle Forrest Wilson, RN, BSN, Clinical Coordinator

It is both a high honor and great privilege to have the pleasure of writing a letter of recommendation for Makayla Hourihan. McLean Hospital’s Community Reintegration Unit opened to patients in September of 2000, and I proudly remain as the only original staff member at the program. In my clinical coordinator role, I function as the permanent charge nurse and oversee the frontline staff on a full-time basis. Kayla’s exceptional blend of academic knowledge and professionalism has been obvious since her first shift as a nurse on the floor in October of 2016. Having the opportunity to work alongside her has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

Our locked inpatient unit is part of the hospital’s Division of Psychotic Disorders. While specializing in schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar disorder, the program treats all mental health diagnoses and has the most diverse demographics at McLean. We provide a calm, steady presence, emotional support, and encouragement to our 22 patients who are experiencing psychiatric crises and deemed to be a risk to self or others. The unit facilitates patients in gaining the therapeutic skills and medication stabilization necessary to successfully step down to an outpatient level of care.

Kayla thrives in the rigorous, scholarly demands of our busy inpatient unit with agitated patients and complex milieu events. She’s able to see the beauty and organization within the chaos and both recognize and celebrate the small victories within a shift. Kayla knows who she is and likes what she knows. She impressively combines this self-awareness with an unassuming nature and generous spirit that shine through in everything she does. Kayla has the adaptability to meet others where they are and takes the same pride in the perfunctory tasks as she does in the immense challenges. She has consistently proven to be a trustworthy staff member, of strong character and ethical mind, whose actions always reflect her beliefs.

Kayla has established herself as a clear leader within our inpatient team. She is our most relied on evening charge nurse, a role that she performs exceedingly well. She shows exceptional motivation and ambition in taking a primary role in quality improvement initiatives on the unit. Kayla created our instructional materials used in orienting new nurses and we depend on her to mentor these nurses throughout their time at the program. She is a member of the Nursing Practice and Qualities Committee here at McLean, which took on the task of streamlining change of shift reports this year with great success.

Most recently Kayla has been involved with another nurse in improving communication between staff nurses and mental health specialists, including co-leading meetings around the same. She is consistently respectful of others in her effective advocacy for improved patient care in staff meetings and beyond. While Kayla excels at assuaging agitated patients and de-escalating conflict, as well as staying ahead of medical crises, there are times when psychiatric and medical emergencies can’t be avoided. Kayla displays confidence and competency in leading peers through these circumstances, including debriefing with others after their occurrence to minimize the personal expense these difficult events can have over time.

Kayla’s phenomenal communication skills are an asset to the unit and a pleasure to witness. She is an old soul with keen intuition and insight into the human condition. She develops deep connections with all levels of staff and has meaningful counsel with her assigned panels of patients. In addition to regular patient education, Kayla guides patients through workbooks on self-esteem, anger management, self-care, and coping with depression and anxiety. Her written assessments are meticulously bolstered with quotes and behavioral descriptions that communicate care remarkably well.

Kayla uses her creative energy to lead imaginative groups which foster each patient’s sense of belonging by providing them with positive outlets to share common experiences and relate to the concerns of their peers. She is a skilled listener with a rare ability to calm others by making them feel they are being heard. Kayla is a tech-savvy individual who has a mastery of our medical software system, Epic, and willingness to help others with the same.

Kayla is one of the most frequently identified staff as deserving special recognition on the hospital’s Perceptions of Care surveys completed by patients at the end of their stays. She has an unrelenting desire for learning and betterment and has always shown great resilience throughout our time together on the Community Reintegration Unit. She is committed to making the best interventions instead of the easiest. I highly recommend Kayla Hourihan for Tier 1 in Nursing Advancement without any hesitation.

Hands clapping
Congratulations to the recent recipients of McLean’s Professional Nursing Advancement Program

Tier 2

Cheryl Cosgrove, RN, Clinical Evaluation Center (CEC) – Nominated by Sandra M. Thompson, RN

I had the privilege of orienting Cheryl as a new nurse at the CEC three years ago and now have the added privilege of co-precepting with her. Together we share the opportunity to orient a new nurse at the CEC and to the McLean community as we introduce her to nursing in mental health.

Cheryl exhibits gentle compassion and respect with her patients and is kind and helpful to her colleagues. I have seen her walk in for her shift and patiently assist a patient who had approached her before she could even take off her coat. I have also seen her patiently sit with a float nurse to guide them through completing restraint documentation. Cheryl is thoughtful about her work, seeks clarification if needed, and will express any clinical concerns she may have. She is always professional when interacting with patients and in sharing information with others on the same team. She presents in a professional manner in both her dress and her demeanor, she is flexible with her work schedule, and sets a good example.

I am delighted to recommend Cheryl as she moves through the tiers of the Professional Nursing Advancement Program and I wish her well. She is ambitious, a team player, a great asset, and I look forward to her continued growth in her nursing career.

Grace Krahforst, RN, Klarman Eating Disorders Center – Nominated by Neillan Murphy RN, Nursing Clinical Coordinator

Please let this letter serve as a recommendation for Grace Krahforst to advance to Tier 2 of McLean’s Professional Nurse Advancement Program. I have been working closely with Grace for about three years now and it is my pleasure to be writing on her behalf. I believe that she is the type of individual whose values align very much with the mission of both Klarman and McLean.

Grace has been working as a full-time nurse at Klarman Eating Disorder Center since May of 2018. She is an exceptional mental health nurse who leads by example, with a gentle and compassionate demeanor. Her warmth and genuineness have allowed her the ability to connect with her patients and aide in their treatment process. Grace advocates in the best interest of the patient, always careful to take into account the patient’s clinical picture as a whole. She is diligent in attending to our patient’s physical health, always up to speed with labs, medication monitoring, and other vital markers. I can always trust that our patients are in great hands while under her care. As the charge nurse on her shifts, Grace has also been a vital resource to our nursing staff. She provides good insight and feedback and is a trusted resource for our staff. She is always respectful and professional in her interactions with both patients and families, and colleagues.

Grace has a passion for mental health nursing and her patients, which I believe is the foundation for excellence as a nurse. I am happy to see Grace have the opportunity to advance her career development with the Professional Nurse Advancement Program at McLean. I believe she is the kind of nurse fit for the role.

Joshua Ritz, RN, Resources Team – Nominated by Corrina Adams RN, Resources Team

I am writing a letter of recommendation for Joshua Ritz, RN, who is applying for Tier 2 of McLean’s Professional Nurse Advancement Program. I have worked with Josh since my start at McLean in 2017. Josh has been an RN on the Resource Team since 2017, and I have worked with him as a fellow Resource Team RN since 2019.

Josh is an exceptional nurse, who has exhibited dedication to the mental health community throughout many years at McLean Hospital. He is very detail-oriented in his practice and always strives for the best care for the patients at McLean. He is never afraid to lend a helping hand in any situation. He has helped orient many nurses throughout his time on the Resource Team, including me! He is a great teacher for those new to mental health, due to his dedication and experience.

As a Resource Team RN, it can be challenging to navigate the units, as things change constantly and you never know what skillset you may need to use that day. Josh always arrives on the units with a positive attitude and is always flexible regarding the unit needs.

Josh’s dedication for McLean Hospital and his talent for teaching also extends off the inpatient units. He is a certified CPR instructor and has taught many new staff, as well as completed CPR reviews for inpatient staff. As a fellow Resource Team member, I rarely get to work side by side with Josh, but when I do I feel confident that if I have questions or concerns, Josh would be more than willing to help me or anybody else. While working on the several inpatient units, many of the staff remark at how knowledgeable, kind, and collaborative he is. He exhibits exceptional critical thinking and communication skills, which helps provide high-quality, effective care for our patients.

I wholeheartedly recommend Josh for the Tier 2 Professional Nurse Advancement Program. In Josh’s career at McLean Hospital, I think he has exhibited the skills that are required to meet this. His commitment to the mental health community is unwavering and admirable. I believe he deserves to be recognized for this as well as his professional development as a registered nurse. He is a great asset to McLean Hospital as well as for the patients we serve.

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