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June 7, 2011
Continued Education Benefits Nurses and Patients of the
Oswego County Health Department
SPRING NURSING GRADUATES - Erin Ciappa and Jodi Tanner recently received their Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing from Keuka College.
DUNSMOOR AND ECKERT EARN DEGREES - Vera Dunsmoor and Chantel Eckert received advanced degrees last December. Dunsmoor earned her bachelor's degree in nursing from Roberts Wesleyan College and Eckert completed her master's degree in nursing from Duquesne University. Eckert also received a certificate from the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law in the School of Law at Duquesne University.
OSWEGO - Four nurses from the Oswego County Health Department have graduated with advanced degrees over the past six months. This spring, Erin Ciappa and Jodi Tanner received their Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in nursing from Keuka College. Last December, Vera Dunsmoor graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College with her bachelor's degree (B.S.) in nursing and Chantel Eckert completed her master's degree (M.S.) in nursing at Duquesne University. Eckert also received a certificate from the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law in the School of Law at Duquesne University.
"We have a wonderful staff of nurses here at the health department," said Dr. Dennis Norfleet, public health director of the Oswego County Health Department. "Many of them have chosen to further their education while engaged in their career, which involves making some personal sacrifices to accomplish this goal. Taking on this challenge demonstrates a true commitment to their profession, further develops their personal knowledge and skills, and enhances our program. I am truly proud to have such dedicated nurses in our department."
Each of the nurses utilized educational cost-sharing as part of the county's incentive program. In this program, the county shares the cost of educational courses with the employee, provided that the courses are either job-related or fulfill requirements for a job-related degree.
"Oswego County encourages the use of educational and career incentives wherever possible to better develop an employee's capabilities," said Legislator John Proud, chairman of the Oswego County Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee. "This may include seminars and training, educational cost-sharing or promotional opportunities to enhance career development within the county."
Proud continued, "The incentive program is a tremendous benefit to both the county and the employee. Through cost-sharing, the employee is required to maintain good grades and remain in the county employ for a specified period of time. The department also gains when the employee continues their education to improve their skills and knowledge."
Erin Ciappa and Jodi Tanner, the department's most recent graduates, will use their B.S. degrees to benefit the preventive division of the county health department.
"As the immunization coordinator, Erin's degree will serve us well in meeting the Immunization Action Program requirements with grant writing, reports and outreach to community physicians," said Judy Lester, supervising public health nurse of the preventive health division. "Jodi is a TB control nurse who will use her skills in maintaining tuberculosis records, meeting state reporting requirements, and coordinating patients' treatment regimens so that they maintain optimum wellness."
Vera Dunsmoor works with the Oswego County Hospice Program. Her B.S. degree now offers her the opportunity to advance her scope of practice and level of nursing expertise by affording her increased responsibilities with additional job requirements.
"Continuing one's education today is so important to encourage a higher level of thinking, problem-solving and improved communication skills," said Lynne Bogart, supervising public health nurse of the Hospice Program. "It is purely an individual decision and can be a huge adjustment; but the commitment is well worth the sacrifice. I believe the staff sees this commitment and gets excited by it. It breathes new life into the organization and encourages a sharing of ideas that can re-energize and inspire the staff. This additional education benefits the health department as a whole as it looks toward future nurse leaders to carry us forward."
Chantel Eckert will use her M.S. degree in forensic nursing to benefit the patient services team in the health department's nursing division. A valued educator, Chantel leads the Quality Assessment Performance Improvement (QAPI) Program as well as the Policy and Procedure Development Committee.
"Chantel has a deep commitment to improving our staff's knowledge base and clinical expertise," said Kate Caltabiano, director of patient services. "She participates in staff orientation and ongoing training and works directly with the nursing staff and clinicians to review their documentation with a more precise clinical and legal focus to improve client outcomes. Chantel helps the department identify areas where improvement can be made by compiling data to trend performance and outcome measures."
The graduates feel the benefit as well. Chantel Eckert believes that her experience in the health department gave her a solid foundation to further her education and helped her better understand her role in supporting the residents of Oswego County, as well as its community partners.
"Through my continued education, I am more cognizant of the issues our community faces and work consistently toward establishing ways to improve our rapidly changing healthcare environment," said Eckert, supervising public health nurse of the Personal Care Aide Program and QAPI supervisor. "I would like to say 'thank you' to my mentor, Kate Caltabiano, R.N., M.S., director of patient services and to Dr. Dennis Norfleet, director of public health for encouraging and supporting me in my educational pursuit and helping me to accomplish this goal."
The Oswego County Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee oversees the health department. In addition to Legislator Proud, the committee includes Vice-Chairman Jacob Mulcahey, District 15; and legislators Barbara Brown, District 8; James Karasek, District 22; Margaret Kastler, District 1; Ronald Sakonyi, District 5; and Terry Wilbur, District 21.
For more information about the Oswego County Health Department, call weekdays at 315-349-3545 or visit their Web site at oswegocounty.com/health.
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