Nurses of Note Awards 2022: The Clinical Practice Specialist
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PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program honors nurses who deserve recognition for their remarkable resilience and unwavering dedication. In the second year of the Nurses of Note program, PerfectServe wants to shine a light on the integrity, perseverance, and compassion that nurses so regularly display in the course of caring for patients.
The incredible stories of these honorees paint a clear picture of the people who make up this noble profession, and their experiences offer just a glimpse into the many ways they make the world a better place. Of the 200-plus nominations PerfectServe received, we selected a group of providers to spotlight during the month of May—which, of course, is home to National Nurses Week—and throughout the rest of 2022.
October is home to many holidays that recognize and hold awareness for mental health, including National Depression Screening Day and World Mental Health Day. These days encourage people to seek mental health support whenever needed and motivate patients to be screened for mental health issues. We all know the importance of mental health, and in this profile, we’re highlighting a nurse who works in a psychiatry unit. To learn more about these holidays, or to seek support yourself, visit the World Federation for Mental Health’s website.
Honoree 8: The Clinical Practice Specialist for the Clinical Observation and Inpatient Psychiatry Unit at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital (Miami, FL) — Ana Tyrkala
Ana Tyrkala, MSN, RN, CPN, has been a nurse at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for almost two decades. Starting in 2003, Ana joined Nicklaus as an RN on the medical and surgical floors, but in 2015, she jumped into the role of Clinical Practice Specialist. In this position, Ana researches and applies evidence-based practices, research, and quality improvement methodologies to improve processes and outcomes for sustainable practice changes. Some of her daily activities include doing rounds with nurses and providers, meeting patient and family educational needs, performing checks on at-risk patients (known as “HAC Rounds”), and following up on incident reports.
With October hosting many mental health recognition holidays, this month is special to Ana. Working in a psychiatry unit, Ana says she sees our society’s mental health crisis up close. To her, these holidays provide an opportunity to bring awareness to the importance of mental health. She also says these holidays allow her and other healthcare workers to provide education on how we can support each other and help those suffering with mental health issues. As Ana says, the more we all know about what we can do and what resources are available, the more we can positively impact our communities.
As the Clinical Practice Specialist for the Clinical Observation and Inpatient Psychiatry Unit, Ana’s duties require software and digital tools to complete her many responsibilities. Ana found that, throughout COVID-19, her reliance on these solutions was the key to engaging and communicating with staff. Her department had rotating work-from-home days during the pandemic to prevent virus spread, so communication tools—paired with a little creativity—helped Ana stay in touch with the entire care team. She knew how important it was for her team to feel supported by leadership even on days when they weren’t all there in person. Using tools like Google Docs, Padlet, and Survey Monkey, Ana’s team had access to continuous, real-time updates using multiple avenues of communication. Though they used some tools before the pandemic, Ana said the change in communication style helped Nicklaus Children’s Hospital enhance its communication strategies overall.
Communication is incredibly important in Ana’s role, but COVID-19 didn’t just present communication problems. When someone had a psychiatric diagnosis but was also infected with COVID-19, she had to make sure treatment was still available and that patients could receive the care they deserved. So, Ana and her team created a telemedicine workflow using an interdisciplinary approach. Patients were admitted to the designated medical-surgical unit, but the psychiatry team would manage care for the psych patients only. Then, a psychiatrist and therapist would provide care using a Zoom account specifically for the designated unit. Both providers and patients had access to iPads for their appointments, and the iPads were easily managed, cleaned, and passed around to each patient and provider when needed. This was just one of the many clinical workflows that Ana helped develop throughout COVID-19, and this Zoom treatment workflow was shared with Broward Health and recognized by the local Department of Children and Families Substance Abuse and Mental Health Division. The best-practice workflow is now available to other health organizations.
In addition to creating and analyzing workflows of her own, Ana also aids and encourages fellow nurses in developing best practices for other areas of care. A fellow nurse noticed that post-op appendicitis patients had an increased length of stay. She expressed interest in creating a workflow that could help patients go home safely once they were ready for discharge. Working with the surgical team and Ana, this nurse created criteria for nurses to follow that would guide them about when a patient was truly ready to go home. What’s more, the new criteria were integrated into Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s EHR, and all the nurses are now educated on how to use it. This implementation has successfully decreased the length of stay for these patients.
To Ana, the most important part of her role is the relationships she has created in multiple disciplines throughout her organization. She is extremely proud of her impact on nurses and the patients they treat. Specifically, the most impactful part of her role includes monitoring care processes and needed improvements for that care. She sees the pride and joy in her fellow nurses when they implement a practice change that positively impacts their patients. Ana’s incredible work—including the constructive and beneficial workflows she creates and monitors—makes her the true definition of a Nurse of Note!
Ana, your dedication to creating, analyzing, and monitoring clinical workflows used for the care of patients and care team communication is truly inspiring. We’re honored to highlight the work of you and your Nicklaus Children’s Hospital team. Thank you for sharing your story with us!
In addition to learning about Ana’s work at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, we posed a few additional questions to get to know her better.
Why did you choose to become a nurse?
I have always enjoyed helping others. Every time I had the opportunity to see the care that healthcare workers provided, I was inspired. Knowing that there are so many people out there with a goal to help individuals during tough times is truly motivating. So, when I learned how much passion nurses had for their careers, I knew it was the perfect path for me.
What is the biggest lesson you learned while serving as a nurse throughout the pandemic?
I’ve learned so many lessons during my time as a nurse, and especially through COVID-19. The greatest ones were the importance of resilience, collaboration, and creativity. With all the new and changing guidelines, we had to adapt and work together more than ever before. Through the changes, the goal of providing safe, quality care to our patients and their families has been an ongoing priority. Of course, supporting our nursing team is also extremely important. It was a tough time, but the teamwork was just amazing!
What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self about serving in the healthcare field?
Nursing is such an amazing and powerful career. Don’t be afraid to get involved, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Mainly, be sure to take care of your mental well-being. That’s incredibly important—both to yourself and to the patients you serve.
What do you do to relax after a stressful day?
I love spending time with my family, and if we can be outdoors, I enjoy it even more! When I am talking, laughing, and playing with them, it makes me forget about any stress that is in my life. Also, a good outdoor run re-energizes me almost instantly.
What changes would you like to see in the nursing field in the future?
I love it when I see nurses grow, become involved, and make changes that improve patient care. One thing I would love to explore more is the amazing technology that is available to us and how it can be incorporated into nursing and education. There is so much potential, and I enjoy learning about it and teaching others about it as well.
If you had to pick one song that describes you as a nurse, what would it be?
I would say my song would be “Happy” by Pharrell. I love to see others happy! As a nurse and clinical specialist, radiating positive energy for our patients, families, and nursing team should always be a constant goal.
Make sure to follow our blog as we publish in-depth profiles about more of our deserving Nurses of Note honorees throughout the year.
For more about Nurses of Note 2022, check out the full list of winners.