Caring is in all of us, and nurses truly embody that spirit. Independence Blue Cross received nearly 700 submissions for its Celebrate Caring campaign. We are honored to share the stories of our top 10 finalists, including Megan Vennalil, a nurse at Einstein Medical Center.
Inspired by Nurses at a Young Age
Nurses make a difference in people’s lives every day, sometimes without ever knowing it. When asked why she became a nurse, Megan Vennalil recalls a vague but fond memory of a nurse who helped her when she was a pediatric patient herself.
“I had a few surgeries when I was young, and on one occasion I was so scared. I don’t have a great memory of it, but a nurse came over. She embraced me and told me a story to calm me down before I went under anesthesia,” she said. “That was very influential for me.”
Creating Resources for Nurses New to Transplant Care
Megan, who has been a nurse for 13 years, found her passion in transplant care and coordination. When she joined the pre-kidney transplant team at Einstein in 2013, she quickly recognized how involved the specialty is and saw an opportunity to help others transition onto the transplant team with ease.
“There’s so much to know in the world of transplant, and every organ is so different. I remember feeling overloaded with information when I came on board. I was introduced to new people, new systems, a new flow,” she recalls. “I just thought, if we could write this down, and put it somewhere nurses could refer to, that would be helpful.”
Megan decided to take on the task. She took diligent notes during her training and organized the information into a new nurse orientation packet for pre-kidney transplant. The binder detailed everything a nurse needs to know, from medications to testing and more, about caring for transplant patients. It also included a department directory to help nurses identify the roles of each person on the transplant team.
Supporting Patients on a Year-long Journey
Less than a year later, Megan accepted a position as post-liver transplant coordinator. Her new role enabled her to create an entire process around post-operative (post-op) care. Her caseload consists of 70 patients she carefully follows during their first year after receiving a new liver.
Beyond the charts and clinic visits, Megan provides compassionate care that leaves a lasting impression on patients. In one instance, a patient who experienced post-op complications had an extended hospital stay. Megan brought a grooming kit and took time out of her busy schedule to personally cut his hair and trim his beard. Another time, an elderly woman at Einstein’s skilled nursing facility was feeling down about not having family to visit her during the holidays. Megan rallied her coworkers, who decorated the room with a Christmas tree and trimmings to brighten her spirit.
According to the person who nominated Megan for the Celebrate Caring campaign, “Examples like these are endless. It’s the little things Megan does that make a difference.”
Going Above and Beyond to Improve Process
Megan didn’t stop there. She soon found another opportunity to help the team work more efficiently.
“I was supporting surgeons who needed things to run smoothly and quickly. They needed the whole picture in a short amount of time, and they relied on us to provide it,” she said.
While the computer system offered a comprehensive look at any given patient, it didn’t provide the quick snapshot that’s sometimes needed on the floor during rounds. So, Megan took initiative. She created a shadow chart for surgeons with briefs on each patient, summarizing lab values and the patient medical history. It didn’t replace the computer system, of course, but complemented it nicely.
She presented it to the transplant team one day, and the process has been in use ever since.
“It made me feel like I had autonomy, and I was able to change things,” Megan said.
From there, Megan took on an even bigger responsibility leading the transition from paper charts to electronic medical records. She was designated the system “super-user” and go-to resource for training on the system, all while continuing to successfully perform her duties as a nurse.