Fitzgibbon Hospital tackles nursing shortage with encouragement

Monday, March 20, 2017

Nurses seeking to advance their education and find opportunities to expand their career paths find a nurturing and supportive work environment at Fitzgibbon Hospital in Marshall. The hospital actively encourages nurses to advance their education by providing financial assistance and at the same time fosters a "culture of support" for nurses who want to obtain additional degrees and certifications. Obtaining advanced education not only improves the quality of care that Fitzgibbon Hospital provides to patients but also helps nurses take pride in their accomplishments.

"Fitzgibbon Hospital has supported me and encouraged me to advance my education," said Katina Laxson, BSN, RN, CNML, director of Outpatient Services at Fitzgibbon Hospital. Laxson began her career in 1997 as an LPN working the "night shift" at the former Saline County Rest Home. The Saline County Rest Home later became The Living Center, which is now located on the southwest campus of Fitzgibbon Hospital.

"By the time we made the move to The Living Center, I switched to day shift. I helped move all of the residents to the current location. Later, I helped open the Special Care Unit, a unit dedicated to the unique needs of residents with Alzheimer's and dementia. From there, I decided to go back to school," said Laxson.

Laxson did not have to put her career on hold while she enrolled in nursing school. The Fitzgibbon Hospital Auxiliary Ambassadors provided a scholarship that allowed her to achieve her Registered Nurse degree in 2001.

"Around the time I received my RN license, I also got married and began a family. The scholarship from the Auxiliary helped pay my tuition. It was very important for us," continued Laxson.

After Laxson received her RN she accepted a night shift position on the Medical-Surgical unit and later transferred to the Ambulatory Care and Post Anesthesia Care Unit.

"My absolute love is working in the AC/PACU areas. In 2006, an opportunity was available within the department to pursue a nurse manager position. Laxson said she was ready for the challenge, and it seemed to be a good fit since she was very familiar with the patient services provided in this area.

"In 2010, after strong encouragement from my peers and the Chief Nursing Officer at Fitzgibbon Hospital, I decided to go back to school and graduated with my Bachelor of Science in nursing." said Laxson.

In 2014, Laxson became a Certified Nurse Manager Leader, which is a special certification exam for nurse managers sponsored by the American Association of Critical Care Nurse and American Organization of Nurse Executives.

"Passing the CNML exam has been one of the highlights of my career," said Laxson.

Laxson is now just two classes away from receiving her master's degree in nursing leadership, something she said could not have happened without the love of her family and the support of peers at Fitzgibbon Hospital.

"I received continuing education assistance from the hospital along with scholarship assistance from the Fitzgibbon Hospital Auxiliary Ambassadors, the hospital's liability insurance company and the Buckner Foundation," she explained.

Angela Igo, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Chief Nursing Officer at Fitzgibbon Hospital, confirms there is financial support available at Fitzgibbon Hospital for staff seeking formal nursing education. She also states that there is a focus on a supportive work environment.

"Formal nursing education is a journey that takes patience, dedication and stamina. Many of our staff are balancing work, family and class - which can be overwhelming. I believe it is key to their success and professional growth that our work environment be flexible and caring," said Igo.

"I have had the opportunity to experience many different areas of nursing over the past 20 years at Fitzgibbon Hospital, and I have received both financial support and flexibility when needing time off to do papers or clinical time," said Laxson. "This type of caring environment, compassion and individualization is something that can be found at Fitzgibbon Hospital."

"It has been personally and professionally rewarding for me to encourage and support Katina this past year," said Igo. "She has been able to apply her knowledge to improve patient care, which is invaluable. I care about the nurses working at Fitzgibbon Hospital and want to see them succeed. This is my community, and I want the highest quality of care for everyone."

When considering the opportunities for continuing education and career advancement, paired with the "family-like" environment at Fitzgibbon Hospital, Laxson said that she cannot imagine working anywhere else.

Fitzgibbon Hospital has several positions available, ranging from RNs and LPNs to certified nursing assistants, physical therapists, physical therapy assistants and environmental services technicians. To find out about the many career opportunities available at Fitzgibbon Hospital, visit www.fitzgibbon.org or call the Human Resources Department at 660-831-3257. Fitzgibbon Hospital is an equal opportunity employer.