It is rare to meet someone “who truly stands out, who inspires everyone in the room and who challenges others to view the world differently on a daily basis,” wrote Ray Johanson, assistant nurse manager of the Burn and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU), in a letter nominating Marne Faber for a Distinguished Staff Award. “Marne is such a person.”
A staff nurse, Faber has worked the night shift for five years on the Burn and Pediatric ICU at Harborview Medical Center. In addition to handling all of Harborview’s burn and pediatric cases, the unit provides critical care to other patients when any of its 18 beds are available. For nurses, the unit’s special challenges include providing delicate wound care, caring for badly injured children and working in rooms heated to 100 degrees to keep burn patients warm during the first few days of treatment.
In 2004, Faber brought the concept of mentoring to the Best Practice Committee as a way to provide continued support and training beyond the standard orientation program for newly-hired nurses. With backing from the committee, Faber played a major role in establishing a mentor program for the Burn and Pediatric ICU.
During their first six to 12 months on the job, new nurses are paired with an experienced mentor to create a supportive, nurturing and educational environment. Mentors offer a confidential relationship and safety net for dealing with such issues as strengthening clinical skills, dealing with personality problems or adjusting to a night-shift schedule.
In her own work as a mentor, Faber receives high praise. “Marne made my transition to the ICU smooth and welcoming,” wrote staff nurse Patricia Wittgow in her nominating letter. This sentiment was shared by staff nurse Shane Hulbert, who wrote that “Marne is a wonderful confidant, teacher, inspiration and friend.”
The mentoring program has exceeded its original training goals by creating a new culture for the Burn and Pediatric ICU. “Mentoring leads to ongoing relationships and friendships,” Faber said. “It allows people to see the bigger picture. It serves to renew the enthusiasm of longtime nurses. It encourages professional development. It aids in recruitment. Good nurses want to work with us because of our reputation for teamwork and excellence.”
Faber and her colleagues have served as consultants on establishing mentor programs for other units at Harborview and at local hospitals, including UW Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center and Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center. Later this year, the Harborview model will be presented to a national nursing audience at the annual educational conference of the American Association for Critical Care Nurses.
Faber believes that the whole community benefits when mentoring programs are created. She is particularly excited about the consulting relationships Harborview has established with burn care nurses at other hospitals in Seattle, which encourage the sharing of best practices. “It makes the whole area stronger as a place to practice nursing and care for patients,” she said.
In 2006, Faber was honored by Nursing Spectrum, a national program for recognizing extraordinary contributions by nurses, as a finalist for the “Mentor of the Year” award in the Mountain-West region. The Distinguished Staff Award also recognizes Faber’s extraordinary contributions to nursing care at Harborview and in Seattle. “When I see that I am working with Marne, I am reassured that even if the night is busy or chaotic, I will be supported and get the help I need to do my job well,” wrote staff nurse Patrice Turbes.
Faber calls the Distinguished Staff Award a flattering tribute to her unit.
“I got this award because of the people I work with,” she said. “The unit is so strong.”