Program Directors of the Month

Program Directors of the Month

October 2020

C2wEEsxg_jpeg.jpgNaomi Fox
St. Barnabas Medical Center
I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, nurse and educator. I am a runner, a yogi, a self-proclaimed bargain shopper, a dog and cat owner and a Netflix fanatic. My nursing education story started when I was an Emergency Medical Technician for the Fire Department of New York City in 2000. After being exposed to illness, trauma, and health care disparities, I wanted to do more. I went back to school and graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a dual major in Sociology. Having an affinity for intensity, my goal was to get hired on a burn unit. In 2008, as a new graduate RN, I was hired onto the Burn Step Down Unit at Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) in Livingston, New Jersey and within a year transitioned into the Burn Intensive Care Unit. I spent three years working with the best nurses and learned what it meant to be a valuable member of a team, a preceptor and a mentor. The impact of experiences during transition for new nurses’ forever shape them and this experienced forever guided me.

After four years I wanted to challenge myself further and transferred into the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit caring for post-open heart and post-cardiac surgical patients. My clinical skills and overall competence and confidence grew throughout this time period.  I learned the role of charge nurse, unit practice council member and peer reviewer. The organization was now on the journey towards Magnet designation and I was actively analyzing my role. During this time, my 6 year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and we spent a week in the hospital. Parallel to this, my father suffered and subsequently passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s. Both experiences further enhanced my view of nurses. In turn, I became more passionate, patient, understanding and motivated. I started thinking about my career trajectory and wanted to make a broader positive impact on nursing, patient outcomes, and overall people’s lives. An opportunity became a reality in the Department of Nursing Education and Research. I looked towards the future as I accepted a position as a Clinical Instructor covering several units.

The Department of Nursing Education and Research allowed me to have the autonomy to grow into my role. I trialed ways to educate, instruct, support, direct, and train nurses. It was most important to me that each nurse I worked with to onboard and orient felt they had the tools needed to be successful to grow. I became certified as a Critical Care Registered Nurse and earned my Masters in Nursing Education. I took on a variety of roles within the department with increasing responsibility. When I became the Program Director for the SBMC Professional RN Residency Program, I committed to giving the nurses my all. There is nothing that I would not do to help them be the best version of themselves in order to provide the safest and most compassionate nursing care.

What are you doing regarding COVID in your Nurse Residency program?

COVID-19 has impacted my workflow as a professional development practitioner. The ability to have that consistent face-to-face communication including building professional, personal and trusting connections, have been affected by social distancing restrictions and limited classroom space. As such, I am increasing the use of technology and innovation by using YouTube videos, texting, emailing, holding contests, creating an RN resident newsletters containing photos of each resident, utilizing GoToMeetings for lectures and meetings, and reformatting our internal intranet page to engage residents, nurses and stakeholders.                   

Additionally, I have increased the amount of times I communicate with the RN Residents via phone calls, drop in office hours and impromptu GoToMeetings.

In order to assess and evaluate psychomotor and affective knowledge, skills and attitudes, more frequent sessions are occurring with a group size limited to 9 or less per session. This has allowed me to form more intimate group connections when we do meet in person.

Another key adjustment that has been made is a Clinical Instructor was dedicated to rounding on the RN Residents who work on the night shift. This allowed a direct line of communication and support to occur in the practice setting for the night shift residents.

Flexibility and fluidity are key. The length of orientation, as well as the amount of sessions and classes, increased to factor in the patient population that the residents were exposed to from March - June 2020. Because the residents were caring for the same type of patient, this required specialty practice education to be deferred to when the organization restarted routine census. The program curriculum was altered in order to address priority events and challenges. For example, resiliency and moral distress was added to sessions.

What did getting the PTAP accreditation mean to you?

Gaining PTAP accreditation with distinction was a magical moment for me and my team. It validated that we are utilizing best practice within our scope. It was a confidence booster for newer Clinical Instructors and a moment of pride for senior Clinical Instructors. Having experienced COVID-19 and not being able to control or predict so many things directly impacting our workflow, our peers and the nursing staff, was challenging.  Submitting the PTAP manuscript became something that we just could not give up on. When the moment came to fruition, and the results of the process were announced, it was so worth it to know that the ANCC PTAP team believed in our work.

In essence, it meant that my team and I are doing things right. Hearing and processing the accreditation decision was priceless.


What do you hope to do in the future to enhance your program?

I have learned so much throughout the accreditation process and in the last year. The effects of COVID-19 on operationalization of onboarding, orientation, continuing education and transition to practice have set the need for innovation to be on speed dial. I have so many ideas and I hope to enhance my program by creating the same quality of support and education through the increased use of technology. I would like to introduce virtual reality as an assessment tool and build simulation into 80% or more of the courses for the RN residents. I would like resident graduates to formally mentor resident participants throughout the program. I hope to streamline processes in the organization that will track and promote growth of RN resident graduates. I also seek to enhance the program by advocating for an RN residency program budget. Finally, I would like to build in a community service activity and other outdoor events into the curriculum. 



July 2020

Lora Gullette

I began my journey to a nursing career at the age of 16 in our community nursing home. This is where I found my passion to care for others during their most vulnerable times. The residents were so trusting and dependent on my skills, to live their life to the fullest. I found great joy, appreciation and was humbled by being able to care for them and their families.

 My nursing career was nontraditional. I worked as a nursing assistant while going to practical nursing school, then worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) while attending school to become a registered nurse (RN). My first position, as an RN, was in the Nursing Float Pool at North Country Regional Hospital (NCRH). During this time, I found my passion for maternal fetal health. I spent ten years working in various roles, such as the OB Clinical Coordinator – this is where my desire to learn more about leadership and management blossomed. While working at NCRH, I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). In 2011, my family moved to the St. Cloud area and I began a new path working in inpatient pediatrics and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). I continued my academic journey achieved my Master of Science in Nursing Leadership and Management degree. In 2016, I recognized that I needed to challenge myself and utilize my new degree, so I joined the CentraCare Education Department as the Graduate Nurse/Intern and Student Supervisor. Through this position, I have discovered my love of education, leadership, and management, and luckily all three are a part of my role. The St. Cloud Hospital Nurse Residency Program is my pride and joy. I absolutely love leading new nurses as they navigate through their first year of professional nursing within our organization.

What are you doing regarding COVID in your Nurse Residency program?

Initially, we cancelled two months of classes to allow our team time to prepare, to gain insight from the Incident Command Center and to brainstorm our program going forward.  We were able to partner with CentraCare’s Information Systems Department to develop a virtual classroom atmosphere using the Microsoft® Applications Program. Leaders believe the continuation of necessary support and resources to our nurse residents is important as they provide care on units throughout the organization. On June 4th, we implemented our virtual classroom and e-learning through videos, journaling, group chat, and pre and post tests for competency measurement.


What did getting the PTAP accreditation mean to you?

PTAP accreditation with Distinction for St. Cloud Hospital Nurse Residency Program is an honor that our organization is extremely proud to have achieved. This recognition signifies our organizations’ commitment to providing the nurse residents with the highest quality transition to practice education available. It is a testament to our dedication for nursing excellence and continuous work towards excellent patient outcomes. I am honored and privileged to work alongside the nurse residents on this journey to continued excellence through our Graduate Nurse Residency Program

 What do you hope to do in the future to enhance your program?

Our future is bright; we hope to add additional programs such as a Long-Term Care Fellowship, an Ambulatory Nurse Residency and to obtain accreditation for our Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Residency Program. We strive to continually grow and mature, as a program, by constantly challenging ourselves to think outside the box, to be innovative, resilient, and eager to learn in the ever-changing world we live in today.  


June 2020

Angelica Acosta

I began my Nursing career 16 years ago in Pasadena, California, as a New Graduate RN in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). While in the NICU, my passion for teaching became evident from teaching parents at the bedside, becoming a Preceptor to New Graduate RNs, taking a lead instructor role during our Baby-Friendly campaign. As the years went on, my love and passion for Education sparked personal goals as well. Earning a master's degree in Nursing Education and transitioning into a role within my organization as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist. In 2016 I accepted the position of New Graduate RN Residency Program Director. It is a privilege to work with an innovative Clinical Education and Practice and a nursing leadership team committed to New Graduate RN Resident's success within our organization.

What are you doing regarding COVID in your Nurse Residency program?

 Initially, during the COVID Pandemic, our Residency Program for spring 2020 had just begun on March 10, 2020. The decision was to postpone the PTAP Residency Program in response to the Covid-19 crises due to the projected impact on the organization. The innovative Clinical Education and Practice and a nursing leadership team committed to New Graduate RN Resident's success reutilized our New Graduate RN Resident's in alternate roles. Some of the alternative roles throughout the organization were Lead Temperature Screener, Lead PAPR Trainers, Nursing Extenders within their home units allowing the Residents to continue to be a participant in the organizational needs.


What did getting the PTAP accreditation mean to you?

 We are proud that ANCC recognizes our Nurse Residency PTAP Program as one of the highest-quality transition programs for nurses within California. PTAP accreditation gives our nurse residents assurance that Huntington Hospital offers an innovative residency program experience founded on excellence. PTAP recognition for our organization is evidence of our commitment to our core values Excellence, Professionalism, Integrity, Compassion, and Collaboration amongst the PTAP team, which includes Residents, Preceptors, Leadership team, and all those who support the Residency program.


What do you hope to do in the future to enhance your program?

 As uncertainty surrounded the PTAP program during the initial stages of COVID, the Residents showed incredible versatility during these difficult and uncertain times. They triumphed and proved to be resilient, dedicated, and above all, willing and ready to learn. We look forward to enhancing our program with innovative ways to learn remotely and identify areas where we could incorporate other uses of technology. Incorporating reflective journaling and organizing the residents to share their stories and thoughts of the unique professional and personal experience during the pandemic.


May 2020

Mary Rose Papciak

My passions include staff engagement and ‘inspiring it forward’ to enhance the nursing profession. I believe in the difference nurses make and remain committed to the success of new graduate nurses, not only at NYP, but throughout our nation. I am also an avid runner and Pilates enthusiast. 


I moved to NYC as a new graduate nurse 16 years ago and began my professional journey at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital as a neuroscience clinical nurse, joining the NYP family. I quickly acclimated to critical care while working in a step-down unit and transitioned to the ICU. As I gained experience, I found myself in leadership roles such as charge nurse and council chair. During my time working with critically ill patients I came to understand the true art and science of nursing. It is a blessing to care for others and their loved ones during such vulnerable times in their lives. I became interested in advanced practice nursing and switched my focus to a role in private practice. During that time, I gained a lot of experience and yet I found myself missing the excitement and acuity of the inpatient world of nursing. In short, I wanted a new challenge.


Earning a master’s degree offered just that as I started my graduate studies at NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service in 2009 and assumed the role of Clinical Manager of a progressive-care amenities unit. I was fascinated by the idea that we would focus on a patient experience that was both comforting and clinically exceptional. I was surrounded by a team of nurses that were determined to be the best they can be while providing truly holistic care.


After earning my master’s degree in Public Administration, I served in the role of Patient Care Director for over 5 years on an inpatient medical-stepdown unit.  I enjoyed rounding on patients while simultaneously improving the patient experience and managing the operations of the unit, focusing on staff development and mentoring each individual nurse to achieve their goals.


All of this prepared me for my current position as the Program Director for Professional Nursing Practice Innovation. I am now responsible for the transition to practice program of new graduate nurses for seven sites across New York City. I couldn’t be happier and I believe this is the perfect role for me. I have been fortunate to have had many mentors throughout my nursing journey who have helped me achieve my goals. Each day in this new role, I’m thankful to have the opportunity to give back to new nurses, inspire them and watch them grow. Through the NRP, I can support and educate nurses to improve bedside care. I have the ability to promote health and well-being as a nurse by demonstrating care for those that are caring for others.


It’s an honor and a blessing to be surrounded by their knowledge, energy and enthusiasm for the profession! Their positivity, curiosity and resilience drives me to work hard every day and to elevate my own nursing practice.


What did getting the PTAP accreditation mean to you?


PTAP accreditation is a distinguished honor and the greatest source of recognition for residency programs. We at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital take pride in transitioning new-to-practice nurses to become world-class providers in healthcare. Receiving PTAP accreditation is a testament to both our commitment to nursing excellence and high-quality patient outcomes. Our mission to serve our communities in an empowering and innovative professional nursing environment is fulfilled by our dedicated team of nurses and validated by the PTAP accreditation.


What do you hope to do in the future to enhance your program?


Reflecting upon the current demands and chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am amazed by the success of our new-to-practice nurses, which makes opportunities for the nurse residency program seem endless! New nurses at NYP have quickly acclimated to an extremely complex care environment and acuity beyond what many of us have ever seen. They have not been discouraged, but have found motivation to be the best they can be. They are providing amazing care based upon their education, training and skill sets beyond expectations! We will utilize the courage demonstrated by nurses during this time to integrate more mentorship opportunities for lifelong learning.  


Once the pandemic subsides, we will further reflect on lessons learned and I hope that we can utilize the clinical knowledge, skills gained, and dynamic teaching strategies we have been forced to dive into to provide a dynamic, innovative platform for our program that challenges the status quo.


April 2020

Amy Sutor

I began my nursing career in 2001 as a newly graduated nurse from the University of Delaware and was blessed to join an amazing organization (ChristianaCare) and work with a supportive care team for six years on the cardiac stepdown unit. During that time I developed in my professional role as an expert at the bedside, achieving my master’s degree in nursing leadership and education in 2006. Serving as a frequent preceptor and charge nurse fueled my desire for teaching others and required me to develop my leadership skills. In 2007, with a little encouragement and confidence boosting from my mentor, I transitioned into the cardiac Intensive Care Unit. My time in the cardiac ICU was where I fell in love with the organized chaos, technology, responsibility, and energy of critical care.

My five-year plan at the time focused on becoming a clinical expert in critical care then obtaining a university teaching position at my alma mater in either a critical care nursing elective or organic chemistry. In 2011 an even more amazing opportunity arose in the form of an open position as the unit-based Nursing Professional Development Specialist for the Cardiac and Cardiovascular ICUs and Open-Heart Stepdown units. I was able to achieve my goal of teaching critical care while remaining in a critical care work environment. And, so I served in that position for seven amazing and transformative years.

In October of 2018 I accepted the position of Nursing Professional Development Manager for our Nurse Residency Program and Primary Nurse Planner of our Approved Provider Unit for Continuing Nursing Education. I am privileged to work with a visionary nursing executive team and lead 8 passionate Site Clinical Coordinators to drive excellence in our 10 specialty nurse residency tracks and to inspire our new nurses to become future leaders. I serve as our Program Manager and as the Site Clinical Coordinator for our Critical Care and Progressive Care residency tracks.

What does PTAP accreditation mean to us? It is an honorable recognition that we at ChristianaCare are actively living our organizational values and behaviors of Love and Excellence to provide the best experience and training for our new to practice nurses. While Love in healthcare may seem controversial, we recognize this value as the deep interconnectedness and partnership we build not only with our customers, but with ourselves and each other. Love and Excellence provide our framework for optimal outcomes, excellent experiences, and financial vitality.

Moving forward, we are extremely excited to begin stakeholder brainstorming sessions to transition our six month nurse residency program to a full 12 months, with a major focus on wellbeing and resiliency training.