10-Minute Interview: Donna-Lee Moore-Stout, RN, CCRN

Interview by Jodie Elrod
Interview by Jodie Elrod
Donna-Lee Moore-Stout, RN, CCRN is the Coordinator of Cardiac Electrophysiology at Providence Portland Medical Center (PPMC) in Portland, Oregon. Why did you choose to work in the field of cardiac EP? Tell us about your medical background and how you came to your current position at PPMC. I’ve been employed at this institution for the better part of 36 years, with a two-year hiatus in a rural community in southeastern Alaska. There, I filled the role of the only nurse for the clinic, the emergency room, and the three-bed ‘hospital.’ I ran the pharmacy and also learned some basic x-ray skills, including developing x-rays. I learned that I could do anything if I really wanted to. My experience has been equally diversified in this institution as well over the last three decades. I started here as a nurse’s aide three months after graduating from high school, constantly learning, growing and advancing my formal education as I could afford it. Throughout my career I have embraced change as a means to learn more, avoid burnout and remain excited about my career in nursing. After five years in the Med/Surg ICU, cardiology captured my heart and interest in the mid 1980s, illustrated by my 14-year tenure in the Cardiac ICU. I left the CICU Assistant Head Nurse (AHN) role for a brief two years as an AHN in Endoscopy, which led me to the cardiovascular lab eight years ago. In 2008 the decision was made to expand the EP program at PPMC. Historically, in this institution, EP consisted of device implantations and a rare baseline EP study. The EP nurse coordinator position was posted for a few months before I examined the job description and realized that it fit well with my background and what I enjoy. I determined that I could leap back into a full-time position at this stage of my career to help create something very unique and awesome. We’ve attempted to build an EP department and team that not only benefits patients tremendously, but also offers the team members (including our physicians) a challenging work environment with rewards, acknowledgement, a real sense of teamwork and esprit de corps. Describe your role as Coordinator of Cardiac Electrophysiology at PPMC. What is a typical day like? My role as the EP coordinator is still developing as we grow. Along with creating the necessary policies, protocols and standards prior to our first patient, I have focused predominantly on providing education and training for the staff members that are so important to the success of an EP program. None of us had any real EP experience, so we had a great deal to learn in a very short period of time. Education remains a focus of my job, so I have been reaching out to other EP facilities’ management and educators to determine how other EP labs organize, accomplish, educate and succeed in the areas that we seek to grow in. The safety and well-being of our patients is one of my major roles as the coordinator. I am also responsible for patient education, as well as data collection, quality improvement and ensuring appropriately trained staff is available for procedures. On a daily basis, I am responsible for the flow of the patient load and, more often than not, am part of the team doing procedures. I work five days a week, and like many EP professionals, often longer than eight-hour days. What aspects of your work do you find most challenging? One might think that the most challenging part of my job would be related to the hours that I commit to it, but that is not entirely accurate. Meeting the expectations of physicians who don’t have time to communicate them, and meeting the needs of staff members to ensure their education as well as acknowledgement and appreciation of their commitment and contributions is challenging, as is meeting the needs of the institution — especially in this economic environment. Garnering enough positive feedback to keep myself motivated and engaged can also be difficult. What personality traits are important in an EP coordinator? In my opinion, an EP coordinator must be self confident, self directed and decisive; they must persevere in the face of obstacles, be loyal and committed, ambitious and motivated to learn new things. An EP coordinator must be courteous, considerate and thoughtful, genuinely interested in the well-being of the team as well as the patient; they must also be flexible, forgiving and determined to “do the right thing.” They must possess excellent organizational, communication and people skills. An EP coordinator must be sensitive and sympathetic, while being emotionally impervious to the pitfalls of the position. What motivates you to continue your involvement with the EP lab? I am motivated by the successful procedures that make a difference in our patients’ lives. I delight in our ability to create a comforting environment for every patient before a frightening procedure. My team members are key to my motivation and commitment to our EP lab. Together, we weather the challenges of a growing lab because we enjoy our work and the esprit de corps that we have created. My personal motivation is the opportunity to garner expertise in yet another specialty in my career. What advancements do you hope to see in the field of cardiac EP in the next five years? I look forward to advances that will allow us to easily and effectively treat atrial fibrillation more consistently. What advice would you give to others in EP who are currently at the start of their career? Cultivate your hunger for knowledge; engage in the procedures — if you do, the long cases will be more interesting. Take the opportunity to learn during procedures and make the time to review cases at a pace that facilitates observation of the activation patterns. Feed your hunger for knowledge through reading, and find someone willing to share their knowledge. Make sure that your management is cognizant that you can’t be so busy that you don’t have the opportunity to learn. Has anyone in particular been helpful to you in your growth as an EP professional? Dr. Ashkan Babaie has taught me, as well as the entire EP team, volumes — with unbelievable patience and composure. Dr. Ronald Petersen’s confidence in my sedation skills for his device implant patients gave me my initial appreciation for EP eight years ago. Our newest electrophysiologist, Dr. Alexi Zemsky, who has melded smoothly and effortlessly into our EP team, is already contributing to my knowledge base. The team’s commitment to our vision and goals, as well as their amazing work ethic, has given me the resiliency to stay the course in the face of the challenges of building a new EP program. Karen Reiff, RN, Brock Jonasson, RCIS, Janet Melton, RTR, and Billy Coliron, CVT, presently make up our core EP team that continues to support me, our physicians and our program. What are some of the benefits for cardiology professionals using social networking sites such as LinkedIn? In a financial environment that does not facilitate traveling to conferences for networking opportunities, I’ve connected with other EP lab staff, managers and educators via social networking sites. Through LinkedIn specifically, we have been able to discuss privately, or in a forum, some of the issues that all EP labs face. Policies and procedures, training models and credentialing checklists have been shared with me from some very well-established EP programs. Not all solutions from other institutions fit our situation, but they have given me different perspectives to consider. All EP labs certainly must encounter some of the same challenges; as in all things in life, ‘two heads are better than one.’ It has been very rewarding, as well as motivating, to have the opportunity to communicate with my colleagues in other parts of the nation. Is there anything else you'd like to add? A career in health care is challenging regardless of where we are or what our expertise is. I’ve avoided ‘burnout’ that so many health care workers experience by moving to new areas of practice throughout my career. Retrospectively, it seems that all of my experience as a nurse culminates in EP. I am grateful for the opportunity to embark on this new challenge as I enter the last decade of my nursing career. If there is anything that I have learned over the last 36 years, it is that learning keeps me interested in and excited about my job. EP certainly presents me with another decade worth of learning. Donna-Lee is a member of EP Lab Digest’s new LinkedIn discussion group. To join, please visit: http://linkedin.com/in/eplabdigest