Jessica Klaristenfeld, RN, BSN, BC
Manager, Versant RN Residency in Pediatrics
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
When Jessica Klaristenfeld, RN, BSN, BC, was looking into colleges, her plan was to pursue music composition. However, in high school she also found herself continually drawn to the physiology and anatomy classes.
“I love science, critical thinking and problem solving and I also love working with people,” says Jessica. “I honestly hadn’t thought about nursing until a friend suggested it, but when I looked into it, I loved it.”
Having worked as a music teacher at a summer camp for years, Jessica knew that she wanted to work in pediatrics. Following graduation from Arizona State University Nursing School, she created a spreadsheet of various job openings throughout Southern California. In addition to comparing salary, benefits and scheduling flexibility, training was an important component in her search.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles was one facility that really stood out because of the innovative Versant RN Residency in Pediatrics Program they had launched in 1999. “I had five job offers and I chose Children’s Hospital because of the 22-week training program.”
In February 2002, Jessica started her residency at Children’s Hospital, she worked for almost five years in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and she’s now the manager of the Versant RN Residency at the academic medical facility.
“What I love most about this program is the incredible support that every resident receives,” she says. “I still go to my mentor from 10 years ago with a question or if I just want to talk through an issue.”
While Jessica has the personal insight into the advantages of a supportive residency for a new nurse, she also has the statistics to back it up. Prior to the Versant Residency, 36 percent of new nurses at Children’s Hospital left after their first year and 56 percent left after their second year. Since the Residency’s inception, only 4.8 percent leave after their first year and 10 percent after their second year.
“We have graduated over 885 nurses since Versant started here and 70 percent of those nurses are still working here,” says Jessica. “The RN Residency is very much embedded in our hospital culture.”
Cambria Fowler, RN, BSN
Bakersfield Memorial Hospital
When Cambria Fowler, RN, BSN, began her Versant RN Residency at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital following graduation, one thing became quickly evident – being in nursing school and working at the bedside were very different experiences.
“School and the real world are nothing alike” says Cambria, who received her BSN degree from California State University, Bakersfield in 2010. “I was so nervous those first few weeks and I continually questioned myself and my capabilities. I can’t imagine starting as a new nurse and not going through a comprehensive training program.”
Cambria credits the Versant RN Residency for putting her on the track for success. Just two years after graduating nursing school, Cambria was promoted to nurse manager in the Family Care Unit of the 418-bed hospital, where she oversees a staff of 60 including 40 nurses. She is also going to school at night to complete her master’s degree in nursing.
Through the Versant RN Residency, Cambria says she honed her critical thinking and problem solving skills. She also learned a lot about herself, working under pressure and working as a team with other nurses. She felt her confidence level increase every day allowing her to take on more challenging roles.
“Versant helped me become a better nurse,” she says. “I learned so much about what to do and what not to do from my preceptors. I also learned not to be afraid to push myself to the next level.”
The program’s focus on fostering open communication among nurses and managers is one of the area’s Cambria is most grateful for. “The debriefing sessions allowed us to go over any issues. Sometimes, we would just vent. That level of communication is critical to building a successful work environment where everyone feels part of the team.”
As a nurse manager, Cambria can now share her experiences with the residents on her unit. “I understand them,” she says. “I know what they’re feeling and I always share my own early experiences with them. It’s important for new nurses to know that everyone is scared their first year. It’s never easy.”
Monica Roca, RN
Baptist Health South Florida’s Homestead Hospital
Monica Roca, RN, was on the education path she had always dreamed of and had meticulously planned for. So when she was diagnosed with a benign pituitary tumor in August 2007 and underwent brain surgery, she remained determined that she would not delay nursing school. While her physician told her the average recovery time would be six months to one year, Monica was back in school one month following the operation.
Frequent headaches and vision changes alerted physicians to Monica’s condition and eventually led to her surgery. Throughout the medical crisis, one thing remained constant – Monica’s motivation. “I was so eager to get back to what I loved –school and becoming a nurse.”
Monica’s determination and passion is evident as she manages the high intensity setting of the Emergency Room at Baptist Health South Florida’s Homestead Hospital. She graduated from the nursing program at Nova Southeastern University in March 2010 and was enrolled in the Baptist Versant RN Residency soon after.
Within the Versant RN Residency, she found “an incredible support system,” making the transition from student to bedside nurse much smoother than she expected.
As a nurse, she often draws on her own medical experience as a patient to ensure she delivers the compassionate care everyone deserves. She knows first hand the anxiety that patients feel when faced with a chronic illness or a critical injury. Her goal is to ease as much fear as possible.
“Having gone through a brain surgery, hospitalization and follow up treatments, I know how important the role of nurses are,” Monica says. “Being a patient gave me a new perspective on being a better nurse.”
Monica plans on eventually pursuing a master’s degree in nursing and taking on more leadership and management roles within the hospital. By participating in the Versant Residency, she gained great insight into hospital leadership roles.
“Versant not only taught me the specific skills I needed in my unit, but also showed me the various opportunities that are available,” she says. “There are so many ways we can continue to grow and learn, whether through continuing education, participating in professional organizations, or becoming more involved with various committees within our own hospitals.”
Trisha Jurgemeyer, RN, BSN
Christus Santa Rosa Hospital
San Antonio, Texas
What Trisha Jurgemeyer, RN, BSN loves most about nursing is that she can continue her love of teaching and inspiring others. She began her professional career as an elementary school teacher. While taking time off from work to be a stay-at-home mom to her young children, she began taking classes towards her prerequisites requirements for nursing school.
Trisha already had her bachelor’s degree in English from California State University, Fullerton, but she needed the required science classes. “Because my kids were young, I just started slow. But, I always felt a pull towards nursing, so I was very determined.”
She began the Versant RN Residency at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital, in San Antonio, Texas in 2009. She continues to work in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, which is part of five full-service hospitals with 1,159 licensed beds. She’s the chair of the hospital’s Inpatient Satisfaction Committee, she has taught skills labs for the Residency program, and has been a preceptor and mentor for new nurses. She is continually developing innovative ideas to improve systems and processes not only in her unit, but hospital-wide.
“I always try to become involved with things that I’m really passionate about,” says Trisha. “And taking care of patients, teaching and inspiring others is something that really excites me.”
After receiving her BSN from the University of Oklahoma, Trisha specifically searched for hospitals with a strong training program, which brought her to Christus. “I knew I wanted to be in the intensive care unit and there is a very steep learning curve in a unit like that. I looked for a hospital that promotes learning and cultivates its nurses.”
She is especially grateful for Versant’s debriefing sessions. Being given the opportunity to come together with colleagues and discuss every emotion – anxiety, stress, exhaustion, uncertainty – always left her feeling uplifted and confidant.
Trisha is committed to continuing the level of nurturing and mentoring that was ingrained in her through Versant. She focuses on each nurse as a whole person, is committed to being a partner to new graduates and focusing on fostering their “mind, body, and spirit.”
“Our goal in the ICU is to cultivate an environment of continued learning and growth,” says Trisha, who is involved with the Versant preceptor development region wide.”
Brett Teodoro, RN, BSN
Harrison Medical Center
Brett Teodoro, RN, BSN, was living in Los Angeles and working in real estate development when he became acutely aware of the persistent “hint of jealousy” he felt listening to his good friend’s stories of life as a nurse.
“I kept thinking to myself, how cool it is to be able to help people, care for them during a critical time in their lives,” recalls Brett. It wasn’t until he met a girl from Seattle, got married and took a year off to travel through Australia, that Brett started working towards a major career shift. “When I got married and we moved to Gig Harbor, Washington, I knew it was time to make a change.”
Brett, who had his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Azusa Pacific University, graduated from an accelerated nursing program through Regis University in Denver, Colorado in May 2011. He applied to nearly 50 different hospitals, but his top choice was Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, Washington, specifically because of the Versant RN Residency Program.
“I had read a lot about Versant and I wanted to start my career within a program that would provide growth opportunities,” says Brett, who works the night shift in the Intensive Care Unit. “In school you learn a little about many different things and you don’t realize until you start working that now you need to learn a lot about very specific things.”
Brett spent 18 weeks in the Versant Residency focusing on competencies required for safe practice in the Intensive Care Unit. He clearly remembers his first shift working without a preceptor. “I was nervous, but I felt prepared and the night actually went really smoothly,” he says. “Our team in the ICU is incredible; they really took me under their wing. I never felt alone.”
Being among new grads in a program specifically designed and structured to enhance clinical skills, teamwork and communication is a critical component of the Versant Residency. “We were all in the same boat, we all shared similar struggles and because of that, we developed a great sense of camaraderie,” says Brett.
Crystal Williams, RN
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital
The inspiration to become a nurse came from a family tragedy for Crystal Williams, RN. Crystal’s father passed away from a sudden heart attack when she was 13-years-old. While trying to cope with tremendous loss at such a young age, Crystal had a revelation. She wanted to be someone who could offer healing and strength during life’s most challenging times. While participating in a summer camp program at a local hospital, Crystal became enthralled with the world of nursing—this is what she wanted to do.
In December 2011, Crystal’s dream became a reality. She graduated from the nursing program at El Centro Community College and was selected for the Versant RN Residency at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, an 866-bed facility just north of downtown Dallas.
She describes the 18-week program as an “incredible experience.” She recalls the initial difficulties she had starting an IV on her patients and how her Versant Residency preceptors shared their techniques gained through years of experience. “I was so scared at first, but my preceptors were so patient and understanding. They helped every step of the way.”
Looking back at her time as an RN resident, Crystal says she gained knowledge and confidence working alongside seasoned nurses. And she has fond memories of the lighthearted and fun events that eased some of the pressure of working in an intense hospital setting.
“We would have scavenger hunts with fun prizes and Minute-To-Win It competitions,” she says, “I like that there was fun built into the program. As nurses, we all need a little time to de-stress.”
Crystal is planning on continuing her education and receiving her BSN and eventually her master’s in nursing. She is also looking forward to doing missionary work in her parents’ native country of Guyana.
“I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given and I want to give back in some way,” she says.
Regina Peterson, RN
St. Elizabeth’s Hospital
Regina Peterson, RN, describes herself as a “science geek.” But, despite her love of biology, anatomy and physiology, she spent 17 years in the banking industry working as a teller, loan processor, and branch manager. It wasn’t until her husband retired from the United States Air Force, that Regina launched her second career.
“I always wanted to be in healthcare and when we didn’t have to travel to different bases in different states anymore, I decided to go back to school to be a nurse,” she says. “I realize now that being a nurse is not something you do, but something you are. It was always inside of me. I see the same passion and dedication in many second-career nurses.”
Regina graduated Southwestern Illinois College in May 2006 and was part of the first cohort in the newly established Versant RN Residency at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, Illinois. She is now the nurse manager in the Progressive Care Unit, which is a step-down unit for the Intensive Care. She oversees 117 employees.
Being a part of the Versant Residency gave Regina a lot of visibility within the hospital and allowed her to make numerous contacts throughout the medical facility. Having the ability to call with questions or to brainstorm ideas with other nurses in different units is critical in growing as a nurse manager.
For Regina, one of the most valuable aspects of Versant is its focus on creating a “protective environment” for the new nurses. By giving new graduates access to caring and seasoned mentors and forming a supportive system, hospitals allow new nurses to better focus on their critical thinking and patient care practices.
“I heard such horror stories from friends in other hospitals without a residency program who were thrown into situations they were not prepared to handle,” she says. “Hospitals that create a specific residency program are sending the message that they want their new nurses to succeed.”
Versant® (pronounced VER-sent). The name Versant is derived from the word conversant, which means, “to be well informed about or thoroughly knowing” a field of expertise.
Versant® is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.