Continuing Education Q&A: How does HCA Healthcare help with professional development?

Two female nurses wearing scrubs

How does HCA Healthcare help with professional development?

We asked two nurses.

Marley Thomas, BSN, RN, CCRN, and Ivette Littlejohn, RN, admirably represent their chosen field of nursing. Marley, a 2016 graduate of South Dakota State University, is a registered nurse in the intensive care unit at Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colo. Puerto Rico native Ivette, also an RN, works in a medical surgical unit at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, Fla. Like other nurses, both are passionate about what they do and are fully committed to patient care. For that reason, they’ve made a point of continuing their education, doing so with an assist from HCA Healthcare.

Other nurses are doing the same. In 2018, more than 2,600 HCA Healthcare RNs obtained national certification in a specialty through the organization’s voucher program. That same year, employees received a collective $31.8 million in tuition reimbursement. And beginning this year, eligible employees receive a new monthly benefit to help them pay down student loan debt. Those numbers support the organization’s commitment to being a “learning health system,” where colleagues are encouraged to continuously enhance their professional talents.

A female nurse checks an IV bag

Marley Thomas, BSN, RN, CCRN, Rose Medical Center, Denver, Colo.

Why is nursing so important to you?
MARLEY: My mom was a nurse anesthetist, and she inspired me to go into nursing. The thing I love about critical care nursing is that medicine is always evolving, and I learn something new every day. I love that I have a lot of autonomy, but I also work with such an amazing team. The most rewarding part about my job is I get to take care of really sick people, and sometimes I’m lucky enough to witness them make a full recovery.

IVETTE: There was never another career I was interested in. I had a few setbacks along the way, but I never gave up. Eight years ago, my son passed away from brain cancer. Being in the medical field helped me cope. I have a soft spot for cancer patients, and I can relate to the family’s pain. My experience drove me to want to be a nurse even more to help others. I enjoy being there for the patients as well as for their families and getting to know them. I love to learn from other nurses and doctors about difficult topics. I strive to keep patients up to date with their plan of care and explain what’s happening to them.

A female nurse wearing black scrubs leaning back against a counter

Ivette Littlejohn, RN, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, Fla.

How has HCA Healthcare helped you reach your goals in your career?
MARLEY: Once I graduated, I applied for HCA Healthcare’s StaRN program for new grads—where everybody is a new nurse, so there’s no judgment. We went over the IV pumps and tubing we use, skills like IV and Foley [catheter] insertion. And for the nurses going into an ICU, we had an extra week of education about ventilators, medications, etc. One of my favorite HCA Healthcare benefits is they pay $150 toward my student loans every month. Another super cool benefit is tuition assistance. Some anesthesia schools want you to re-take certain classes, like math and chemistry, before you apply. So I had to take a chemistry class, and HCA Healthcare paid for all of it. I’m so grateful they do these things for their employees.

IVETTE: Education has opened a new world of knowledge for me—things I didn’t learn in nursing school, things you can implement in your everyday work. I’ve been able to use this in my career to maximize patient care. I’m thankful for the tuition reimbursement program. I started my BSN [Bachelor of Science in Nursing] journey last year. I take one class at a time because I must balance work, school and family. My daughter is 4, so she keeps me very busy. I’m also planning on getting my certification as a medical surgical nurse, hopefully at the end of this year.

What advice would you give to other young nurses?
MARLEY: Find a place where you truly feel like you’re working with your friends. The things we see on a daily basis can be emotionally and physically draining, but when you work with amazing people like I do, they make the bad days better and the good days great.No matter where my nursing career takes me, I will forever remember the Rose Medical Center ICU team.

IVETTE: Go back to school and take advantage of all the resources HCA Healthcare provides, like tuition reimbursement. Nursing is in high demand and we need motivated people to help care for patients who need us. There are many different areas to work in nursing; we just need to find where we belong and excel at it. You must be ready for whatever the day brings, and when a challenge arises, use your critical-thinking skills, tools and resources.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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