Nursing Culture on the West Coast

Liz Long at the Veteran's Administration in Palo Alto

Over 600 applicants and 18 spots…are you ready for the challenge?

This staggering statistic is the amount of applicants that both the Veteran’s Administration in Palo Alto and Stanford Hospital each receive for the Registered Nurse (RN) Residency Program every hiring term. While this might seem intimidating, I am up for the challenge and was eager to learn more about the role that nurses play in both of these amazing hospitals.

I had the opportunity to visit the Veteran’s Administration (VA) in Palo Alto and learn from Marianne Gardner, RN about the culture of nursing at the VA.  It was fascinating to discuss how nursing practices in the VA differ from that of a private hospital. I saw how passionate nurses were about serving these men and women who had served our country with such dignity and courage.

It was truly inspiring to learn about the enormous admiration and respect that nurses and other healthcare providers gave to these veterans, but also it was encouraging to learn about the comprehensive services offered to the patients and their families. For instance, Mrs. Gardner mentioned that the VA in Palo Alto has a Fischer House, which is a nation-wide organization that provides families of veterans a place to stay while their loved one is in the hospital. This shows the commitment that the VA and surrounding community has to making the stressful experience of being in a hospital less of a burden for these families.

I also toured the Intensive Care Unit, Post Anesthesia Care Unit, and a Medical-Surgical Unit. Each of these units had different cultures, but they all centered on one concept; providing their patients with the best nursing care hospital. I loved speaking to the nurses on these units and hearing their perspectives on each specialty. It reminded me of the wonderful diversity that nursing has to offer.

Additionally, I had the pleasure of meeting with the coordinator of the RN Residency Program at Stanford Hospital. She was extremely informative in explaining the application process at Stanford and how as a Magnet facility (an award given by the American Nurses Credentialing Center to recognize excellence in nursing) they were promoting nursing leadership, better patient outcomes, collaboration among all healthcare providers and providing exemplary nursing care.

Overall, both hospital systems emphasized the importance of life long learning, especially in such an evolving profession like nursing. I am absolutely intrigued by the idea of working with such accomplished nurses and healthcare providers in either of these hospitals that are truly workplaces that foster education, collaboration and research.