Highlighting some of the area’s top nurses.
BILLIE L. MARTIN, RN
An RN for 24 years, Billie Martin has practiced in several nursing roles, though she says her current position has been the most rewarding thus far. She has been with Methodist Healthcare for seven years and in transplant for three. Martin assists potential liver transplant candidates in preparing for transplant by coordinating outpatient testing, lab, and physician appointments. She compiles results from transplant evaluations, presents the cases to the liver selection committee, and lists approved patients’ information in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) system, maintaining current information in UNOS until an organ donor is available.
Her job involves extensive patient and family education. “The transplant process can be confusing, and our patients are extremely ill during this time,” she says. “Anxiety in patients and family members is common, so I spend time reassuring them and explaining what they are going through — why certain things must be done and what to expect during and after a liver transplant.”
In this role, Martin is able to assist patients gain a new life. “The donor family honors their lost loved one by allowing an organ to be shared to save another’s life,” she says. “It is a great honor and privilege to be involved in this process.”
TERESA NICKEL, RN, E-MSN, CCM, CLCP, SPHR
From bedside nurse to hospital risk manager, Teresa Nickel’s 27 years of experience in nursing have allowed her to assist with childbirth, hold a hand during a patient’s death, and help people regain quality of life through medical and vocational recovery.
Nickel began her career as a bedside nurse specializing in critical care, but her path took a turn when she served as the director of case management at a post-acute hospital. “In that role, I saw firsthand many life-changing injuries from external forces, so I began to focus on prevention strategies and managed-care initiatives,” she says. “This led me to specialize in occupational health, medical case management, and legal nurse consulting.”
In her current role as Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis’ risk manager and employee health manager, her goal is to promote patient and employee safety. This includes researching best practices, minimizing patient and employee risks, and supporting employees in the delicate balance between work and personal life demands. “The greatest honor a nurse can have is to provide support to the caregivers who care for patients,” Nickel says. “Caregivers become so involved in providing daily care that they sometimes forget to care for themselves.”
MARISSA J. IRWIN, RN, CPN, AE-C
Marissa Irwin has been a nurse at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for four years, and for the past 16 months, she has served as an asthma care coordinator for Le Bonheur’s Changing High-risk Asthma in Memphis through Partnership (CHAMP) program.
The CHAMP team is made up of asthma physicians, social workers, and other medical professionals who go out into the community. “The best part of my job is that I get to spend extra time with each patient, and I am not confined to the walls of a medical building,” she says. “My teammates and I have the ability to reach patients in their homes. We talk to them about early warning signs that may signal the start of an asthma episode, so they can prevent emergency department visits.”
The team empowers patients and caregivers by giving them personalized information about asthma symptoms, triggers, and medications. CHAMP has been very successful with talking to school nurses, teachers, coaches, and others to ensure that patients have the proper medication, devices, paperwork, and whatever else they might need to keep their asthma under control. Irwin says, “We want to let kids be kids and not be limited by their asthma, so every child can shout, ‘It’s a great day to be a CHAMP!’”
LINDA MARTORANO, BSN, MSN
Linda Martorano began her career in nursing in 1977 as an LPN in the mental health field. She has since worked in various positions — floor nurse, medical/surgical services, dermatology, emergency services, staff educator, and varied management roles — and began working at Delta Medical Center in 2001. Starting as a nurse educator, she was promoted to chief nursing officer in 2006 and was recently named chief operating officer.
In her current role, Martorano serves on the executive team, and her operational duties cover all ancillary departments as well as nursing. Her job allows her to work with the finance department on budgetary issues, conduct daily staff meetings on both medical/surgical and behavioral health services, and work with the education and quality departments at Delta Medical Center.
“Being a nursing administrator gives me the opportunity to help patients by developing processes through a multidisciplinary approach with a team effort,” Martorano says. “So you aren’t just touching a life, you are touching thousands of future patients in a positive way.
“Delta Medical Center has also given me the opportunity to work in a unique setting,” adds Martorano, “where behavioral health services are offered in a medical hospital.”
DIANE BRAND, RN
Many envision a nurse as someone at the patient’s bedside, but nursing offers many opportunities to work closely with patients. As the research participant advocate at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Diane Brand helps patients and families find answers to their questions about taking part in research.
Brand serves as a trusted intermediary between the hospital and its patients, advising patients and families on the purpose, procedures, risks, benefits, and alternatives of taking part in research. She’s also a liaison between patient families and research team members. “I meet new patients every day, give families information about their rights in research, and share that their participation in research is voluntary,” Brand says. “Asking questions and talking about concerns are good ways to resolve worries and be more active in a child’s care, and I’m honored to help them navigate that journey.”
At St. Jude since 1983, Brand became research participant advocate in 2009. Since then, she’s met more than 1,400 new patients. “My job is challenging and stimulating. There is never a dull moment,” she says. “I love my job and am proud to say I am part of St. Jude’s noble mission of finding cures and saving children.”
WENDY LIKES, PHD, DNSC, APRN-BC
Wendy Likes has been a nurse since 1994, receiving her MSN, DNSc, and PhD from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Nursing. She joined the faculty in 2004 and currently serves as associate dean for advanced practice and doctoral studies. Likes is the executive director for UT Medical Group’s Center for HPV and Dysplasia, which focuses on the detection and treatment of HPV-related conditions. She has been evaluating and treating diseases of the lower genital tract for more than 15 years and was instrumental in making the center one of a few practices in the South offering a procedure to detect precancerous anal cancer, providing an essential service for the community.
Likes has been funded through the National Institutes of Health and is well published in her field. “It is the development I received as a student at UTHSC that gave me the confidence and ability to share my knowledge with others through my faculty role,” she says. “The resources and support I have received as a UTHSC faculty member have afforded me the opportunity to do what I love and to explore meaningful ways to improve the care we provide to our patients and the community.”
SHEKINAH ANDREWS, BSN, MSN, NP-C
Shekinah Andrews is a family nurse practitioner with UT Medical Group’s Department of Nephrology, where she cares for patients with end-stage renal disease who are on hemodialysis. Her previous experience as an emergency room nurse at Baptist Memorial Hospital and as a pediatric oncology nurse at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital give her a unique understanding of the special needs of medically fragile patients. In her current role, she works with individuals whose chronic kidney disease requires regular dialysis and close oversight by medical professionals to prevent life-threatening complications. Many of her patients are complying with their hemodialysis regimen while they wait for kidney transplants. Several times each week, Andrews goes to local dialysis clinics to examine, treat, and monitor her patients’ conditions. She also provides education about proper electrolyte balance, diet, medications, and infection control, so that the patients can self-manage their disease more effectively.
From a young age, Andrews knew she wanted to be a nurse. “I have a passion for helping others, and I really enjoy educating my patients,” she says. “I see my patients frequently, and because of this, I feel that we really have an opportunity to bond. My job is very rewarding.”
BONNIE MILLER, RN
As a perinatal patient safety nurse at Regional Medical Center, Bonnie Miller works with expectant mothers who find themselves in the hospital before delivery. “We work with the moms to ensure holding delivery as long as possible and to develop a plan for how to handle the delivery when the time comes,” she says.
Miller has been in her current position for a year, and previously served eight years as a staff nurse in labor and delivery/high-risk obstetrics at Regional Medical Center.
On a typical day, she works closely with the team of physicians and caregivers — including nurses from NICU, antepartum, and postpartum — to ensure everyone is on the same page with the patient’s plan of care.
“The role I play is unique,” Miller says. “We’re the only hospital in the region with a perinatal safety nurse, which is a position that is emerging throughout the country, particularly for hospitals with high-risk pregnancy programs.”
Miller has always had a passion for helping others and loves working in women’s services.
“I believe moms are often taking care of other people,” she says, “and I see this as an opportunity for them to be pampered and taken care of.”
LAURA BEARD, RN, MSN
Laura Beard has worked for Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation for 13 years, three of them as a nursing informatics professional. On a standard day, you’ll find her working with hospital end users to build an electronic health record (EHR) that is user-friendly and meets the needs of the hospital and staff.
She is currently working on the team for Baptist OneCare, Baptist’s EHR that began rolling out in phases in January 2014. The Baptist OneCare system will create a single patient record that both patients and caregivers will be able to access. The EHR aims to reduce the need for duplicate tests and to prevent patients from having to give the same information to multiple caregivers. Through Baptist OneCare, patients have access to MyChart, a free online app that allows patients to schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, message their care providers, access lab results, and more.
“Nursing informatics provides an opportunity to improve patient care through technology. It is an ever-changing field that brings different specialties together to promote safe, cost-effective, quality care for patients,” Beard says. “The opportunity to design and build parts of a system that will be used to influence patient care and to see the efforts of the team in use provides a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.”