Release Date: 10/20/2017
The VNA of Care New England is pleased to announce the graduation of its inaugural class of residents who have completed the VNA of Care New England’s Residency Program for New Graduate Home Health Nurses. The graduation ceremony took place Thursday, September 14, at VNA of Care New England’s home office.

“This residency program has brought an energy and excitement to our agency,” said Kathleen Peirce, RN, MS, vice president of operations, executive director, and chief nursing officer of the VNA of Care New England, in speaking to the new graduates. “I hope that you continue to seek out the resources and opportunities that are here and ready for you. It is our hope that the continuum of care provided through Care New England will allow you to grow as a health care professional within our system. Congratulations to all!”

The graduating class includes Christie Bilodeau, Dawn Landry, Lindsey Lilly, Amelia Mason, Karina Salazar-Marte, and Kendra Santilli. During the ceremony Bilodeau, Landry, and Salazar presented their evidence-based practice research, “Assessing Impaired Cognition in Home Care Patients with Heart Failure,” and Lilly, Mason, and Santilli presented their research, “Assessing Health Literacy in Home Care Heart Failure Patients.” 

“It is quite an experience to be a brand new nurse in a patient’s home with multiple complex illnesses, sometimes in less than ideal living conditions. Yet these six nurses did so with finesse. They far exceeded our expectations and we are quite proud of them,” said Lisa DiMaria, PhD, nurse residency program manager and program preceptor. “We know that the best nurses are the ones that keep learning, know where to get their information, and can apply the evidence to their own practice. In doing so, they change nursing, add value to our profession, and exemplify the nurses of the future. Congrats to all the graduates of our first residency program at the VNA.”

Upon graduating the residency program, which, according to Peirce, was developed to “elevate community home health nursing and assist the VNA in retaining top caliber nursing staff,” all six residents have accepted positions with the VNA of Care New England.

2017 Graduates 

Christie Bilodeau, RN, of Woonsocket, graduated with her bachelors of science in nursing from Rhode Island College in 2016. She also earned bachelors degrees in English and psychology from University of Rhode Island in 2012. In reflecting on her experience in the VNA Residency Program, Bilodeau said, “The VNA Residency Program has offered me so much guidance and support as a new nurse. It is thanks to Lisa DiMaria and the rest of the VNA staff that my nursing skills have flourished. Patients face many barriers to health care, and as a home care nurse, I am able to assess what these barriers may be, ensure that a patient is safe, and provide the tools to living a healthy lifestyle. This past year at the VNA has taught me the integral role that home care nursing plays in a patient’s life; I couldn’t imagine beginning my nursing career any other way.” Bilodeau will continue working as a registered nurse on VNA of Care New England’s home health team. 

Dawn Landry, RN, of North Providence, graduated with her bachelors of science in nursing from Rhode Island College in 2016. Landry also holds a masters degree in social work and masters in non-profit management from New York University, as well as a bachelors degree in psychology from the University of California, San Diego. For Landry, the VNA residency program allowed her to “work closely with such a great group of nurses, as well as a preceptor who was always helpful and available.” Landry aspires to help others as they transition through to the end of their lives and will continue working as a registered nurse on the VNA of Care New England’s hospice team. 

Lindsey Lilly, RN, of Hope Valley, graduated with her associates in nursing from the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) in 2016 with highest honors. While studying at CCRI she was a member of the Nursing Honor Society of Alpha Delta Nu and the National Honor Society of Phi Theta Kappa. She is currently enrolled in an RN to BSN program through Southern New Hampshire University, where she was recently inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success. She is expected to finish her BSN program in December 2017. In reflecting on the VNA Residency Program, Lilly said, “This VNA Residency Program has taught me so much. I have expanded my clinical skills as well as my communication and teaching skills. Adjusting to the professional nurse role has been challenging, but I am confident to say that I can attribute all of my professional progress to this residency program. I am forever grateful to the VNA for this opportunity and the experience that it has given me.” Lilly will to continue to work as a registered nurse on the VNA of Care New England’s home health team. As Lilly moves forward in her nursing career she hopes to work in a critical care setting to expand her clinical skills in a faster-paced environment, with hopes to transition to a nursing position in a neonatal intensive care unit.

Amelia Mason, RN, of North Providence, graduated with her bachelors of science in nursing from Salve Regina University in 2016. While enrolled in the VNA Residency Program, she was encouraged by the welcoming community of the VNA and the ongoing support of staff, specifically the nurse residency program manager, Lisa DiMaria. For Mason, the residency program was an ideal opportunity to “work with a wide variety of patients within the home setting.” Mason will continue working as a registered nurse on the VNA of Care New England’s home health team.

Karina Salazar-Marte, RN, of Cranston, graduated with her bachelors of science in nursing, with a minor in gerontology and health care administration, from Rhode Island College in 2016. In 2016 she was honored with the Harold D. Sweet Award in Gerontology for her volunteer work with seniors in lower income communities. Salazar-Marte said, “I am thankful to have had the opportunity to acquire experience in an environment that focuses on quality and effectiveness of health for their patients. I was honored to have the opportunity to be trained by an enthusiastic and experienced educator, Lisa DiMaria. It is rewarding to collaborate as partners with patients as they adapt to a new chronic diagnosis or through the healing process after a hospitalization.” As Salazar continues to grow in the field of nursing, she hopes to focus on her clinical practice and leadership skills. Salazar-Marte is a registered nurse on the VNA of Care New England’s home health team. 

Kendra Santilli, RN, of East Providence, graduated with her diploma in nursing from St. Joseph School of Nursing in 2016. Santilli also holds an associate’s degree in liberal arts. She is currently enrolled in an RN to BSN program through Southern New Hampshire University and is expected to graduate in 2018. When reflecting on the past year of the VNA Nurse Residency Program Santilli said, “I’m thankful for the VNA Residency Program because I was able to get an effective orientation and feel like I have established a great foundation as a nurse.” Santilli will continue working as a registered nurse with the VNA of Care New England’s home health team. 

At the graduation ceremony, the incoming class of 2018 was also introduced including: Monica Huber, Lydia Dorsey, Julie Lee-Alvarez, Brenda Vanner, Jesmel Ocasio and Melissa Jean. 

The VNA of Care New England’s Residency Program for New Graduates Home Health Nurses is one year in length, beginning each September, with a dedicated preceptor for every six new graduates hired. The preceptor exposes new graduates to home care through supervised visits initially, and provides ongoing support and mentorship as participants progress through the residency. The typical day of a nurse resident consists of morning report, planned education, patient visits, and visit debriefing. The combination of practical application, educational opportunities, and peer support is integral in making the transition from new graduate to competent nurse.

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