Since she was in elementary school, Laurie Miller knew she wanted to be a nurse. Even though, she says, she used to cry whenever she would see the school nurse—a formidable older woman in a starched, white uniform. “She struck fear in my heart!” Laurie recalls.
Perhaps that’s why Laurie exhibits such a caring nature as a WellSpan VNA wound, ostomy, and continence nurse.
Laurie has been with WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital for 30 years, the past 20 of those years with the VNA.
She cares for patients with acute and chronic wounds, patients with an ostomy (those who have had some kind of bowel or bladder diversion), and patients with incontinence conditions, also providing associated skin care.
“Wounds don’t bother me,” says Laurie. “I always wanted to be a wound nurse since the late ‘90’s. Wounds are dramatic and dynamic – you can often make a difference by what you do to it and for it. And hopefully you can help heal it.”
It’s exactly that kind of dedication that motivates Laurie to continue to pursue her WOCN recertification every five years. And in support, WellSpan paid the recertification fee.
Becoming board certified is a voluntary process that requires consistent evaluations of a nurse’s professional knowledge and skills, including specialized skills and experience to adequately provide expert care. Board certification recognizes that a nurse is knowledgeable and well qualified to provide specialized care to meet patients' wound, ostomy and continence needs and differentiates the value of expert nurses from those at an entry level.
Recertification is important to Laurie and WellSpan; it also allows Laurie to teach, practice in the field and collaborate with colleagues. In addition to caring for patients in their homes, Laurie provides orientation education to all new hire staff at the VNA with lectures and in-the-field training. Laurie is also integrated with the wound centers and acute facilities – working along the continuum, and collaborating with surgeons and other providers.
“There’s a great need for the services WOCNs provide,” she explains. “There’s value in what I do and WellSpan recognizes and supports that.”
Working in a home setting is very personal and Laurie says she likes the variety and challenge of helping patients achieve their goals, whether that’s healing a wound, finding the right ostomy appliance for their needs, or supporting them emotionally.
“They may be depressed and struggling to regain their independence,” Laurie says. “I get to engage with them on a very personal level and teach them how to manage their care needs and be independent again. Doing actual wound or ostomy care is sometimes secondary to listening to patients and the challenges in their lives.”
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