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Nursing Careers Spotlight: Hospitalist Unit 3

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When hospital patients don’t have a chosen primary care physician looking after them, or if their care requires multiple specialists, a general medicine physician known as a hospitalist may be called in. Hospitalist units provide this type of care, and nurses working in this service are known as hospitalist RNs. Among other clinical care duties, they help hospitalist physicians evaluate and counsel patients about general medical diagnoses.

UAB Medicine’s Hospital Service 3 (HSP3) is one such unit, and the nurses on this team take pride in delivering quality care and achieving excellent outcomes. To provide a glimpse into their day-to-day work, some members of the HSP3 team shared their experiences and insights as hospitalist RNs.

Toni Beam, RN, nurse manager

Toni Beam has been nurse manager for HSP3 since June of 2019. With 10 years of nursing experience (four of those at HSP3), Beam has participated in the growth of this unit, which will be moving to Spain Wallace S8 in the summer of 2020. She says they expect to develop more as a team with the move.

“When we move, we will definitely have a need for a larger staff,” Beam says. “Right now we have approximately 45 employees, but it should increase to more than 70 with the move. We care for a diverse patient population with numerous conditions, and that’s a challenge. We see patients with complicated conditions, both acute and chronic. Our largest patient population includes patients admitted for cardiac issues such as atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and chest pain. We also manage care for patients with other medical conditions such as uncontrolled hypertension, diabetes, endocarditis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

The HSP3 leadership team consists of nurse manager Toni Beam, a Nursing Professional Development Specialist, Ja-Lin Chen, and four assistant nurse managers: Cameron Davis, Jana Amberson, Elizabeth Baker, and Joey Travis. The team approaches leadership challenges with what Beam calls “a shared belief in servant leadership” in order to meet the needs of the bedside staff. Beam also credits the previous HSP3 nurse manager in mentoring her toward this role.

“I was an assistant nurse manager when this unit opened in 2015. I had a great mentor in Jackie Westbrook, who basically took me under her wing when she recognized my interest in a leadership role. Jackie began to share all her expertise and insight with me. Now I take the same approach with my assistant nurse managers. I see the nurses as my patients now. If I take good care of them, then their patients get high quality care. We definitely want to help our RNs grow in their careers, because this is often not a unit where a nurse might stay forever, since they may consider entering a specialty. We think of our team as raising new nurses, because we get a lot of new graduates, and want to offer them a solid foundation to build a career on, whether they stay here or not. We’re very open with them, right from the start, that they are free to express a desire to enter a specialty nursing field down the road.”

Joseph R. Travis, BSN, RN-BC, assistant nurse manager

“I always knew that I wanted to have a career in this field, because medicine can change people’s lives for the better,” Travis says. “I love knowing that I had an opportunity to be a part of that process. I think what sets this unit apart is the team environment, as well as the opportunity to take part in new pilot studies that are on the cutting edge of patient care.”

Jordan Oldacre, BSN, RN

Oldacre was interested in medicine at a very young age, but the idea of a possible career in that field jelled during a school mission trip.

“For a mission trip to Haiti during my junior year of high school, I traveled with a group of nurses, volunteers, and physicians who provided medical care and supplies to a small community on the island,” Oldacre says. “I was shocked at the volume of people who needed medical attention, and I felt really motivated to learn more about preventing and treating some of the diseases that were affecting people there.”

Having earned a BSN from UAB and then working on HSP3 for more than 2 years, Oldacre already has seen the value of experience with the hospitalist unit.

“I think the most unique thing about our unit is the variety of patients we treat,” Oldacre says. “We consistently see orthopaedic and heart failure patients, but many of our hospitalist patients have complex medical diagnoses. Not knowing what kind of conditions you might be treating each day can be unpredictable and challenging, but I think it helps you develop critical thinking and learn skills you might not otherwise gain.”

Oldacre especially appreciates the unit’s culture of collaboration and support.

“The most noteworthy thing is how well we collaborate when things get super hectic,” she says. “Having coworkers who will intervene on your behalf makes the care we provide so much more effective. Besides being helpful, we know how to cheer each other up and find humor in small things. The focus on improvement here motivates me to challenge myself and get outside my comfort zone. I am also grateful for the different cultures and backgrounds represented here. That helps me keep an open mind and appreciate the perspective of others.”

Taylor Floyd, RN

Floyd says she feels called to the practice of nursing and that there wasn’t a specific experience that prompted her interest in medicine.

“As a teenager, I hated the thought of a career in this field,” Floyd says. “But after much prayer and thought at the beginning of college, I found it funny that I ever considered anything other than medicine. Every day I am given the opportunity to serve others, and no matter how big or small, the impact I can have on patients and their families is why I love what I do.”

Floyd says the teamwork and support from colleagues made her experience on the unit beneficial to a new graduate, along with unique opportunities for growth and participation.

“The culture of teamwork that our unit fosters is one of many reasons why I love HSP3,” she says. “No matter what shift, someone is always available to lend a helping hand and answer any questions. This made such a difference in my first six months as a new grad, because there were always people willing to help me. Since I started, my coworkers and the leaders on our unit have pushed me to be the best nurse I can be. I also had the opportunity to serve as my unit’s Magnet champion. Through this process, I learned what goes into a Magnet visit and re-designation. After months of meetings and educating the unit on Magnet status, seeing everyone’s hard work pay off when we were Magnet-designated for a fifth consecutive time was rewarding for all of us.”

Click here to learn more about working for UAB Medicine’s Hospitalist Service 3 unit.

Click here to apply for Hospitalist III jobs.