Staff Finds Way to Celebrate Team Member's Success

This Graduation Would Not Be postponed

Photo was taken prior to wearing masks becoming mandatory in Nevada

June 30, 2020

April 24 was a milestone for Jennifer Rivera. The date was both her 10-year anniversary working at Centennial Hills Hospital, where she was a clinical systems coordinator, and also her last day of nursing school. Due to COVID-19, the nursing school postponed its graduation and pinning ceremony. Instead, it recommended that the students ask a nurse they know to officiate their pinning ceremony.

Rivera asked her department director, Jeff Belcher, to do the honors, thinking he would hold the pinning in the operating room with a few people. Belcher had other plans. "Jennifer started here in admissions 10 years ago and worked her way up. She has always had high aspirations, and graduating from nursing school, all while working part-time, is a huge accomplishment," he says. "She deserved to receive her pin with more than just a few people."

A Very Emotional Moment

Belcher secretly spread the word to about 30 staff members and hospital leadership, including Chief Nursing Officer Janet Wright, DNP, MBA, RN, and Chief Executive Officer Sajit Pullarkat. He asked Rivera to wear her nursing school sash and asked her to go to the lobby, where Rivera was greeted by the group. Wright led Rivera and all the RNs present in a nursing pledge, followed by rounds of applause. "It was a very emotional moment," says Rivera.

Jeff Jen and Janet

Photo was taken prior to wearing masks becoming mandatory in Nevada

Belcher and Rivera have worked together for a long time, and he has always encouraged his team to grow professionally. "When I told Jeff about my interest in nursing school, he was excited for me and fully supported my decision," says Rivera. "He worked with me to change my schedule so that I could still work and go to nursing school."

The program involved two years of classes and then a little more than two years of clinical experience. Rivera completed all her clinical requirements at the hospitals within the Valley Health System. "That was a great experience for me because I got to see how our other hospitals do what they do," she says. "And I was fortunate to get my in-person clinical hours done before the pandemic, otherwise I would have been delayed in getting my license."

Rivera was also selected to participate in Centennial Hills Hospital's Caring Science Program. "It's a special angle on nursing that encourages the spiritual and empathetic aspects of nursing," she says. "Go in and take a seat next to the patient and have a real conversation with them, as opposed to quickly going in and checking vitals and distributing medications."

Rivera currently has her temporary nursing license and is able to practice nursing at the hospital until she takes her exams this summer. She is extremely grateful for what she calls her "second family" at the hospital. "I did not do this alone — everyone in surgical services supported me and offered to help. This is an amazing place to work, and many of us have been here for at least 10 years. I can't wait to take all my experience and use it to help take care of our community."