Nome, Alaska – Theresa Olanna started working as a registered nurse at Norton Sound Health Corporation six years ago. As a freshly graduated nurse from the University of Alaska Anchorage, who took part in the UAF Northwest Campus and NSHC nursing program partnership, Olanna’s value as an employee was quickly recognized. She earned NSHC’s 2015 Compassion Award after she helped a regional clinic’s staff, while she was on a personal visit, when there was an accident involving injuries. Since then, she has worked in acute care, ambulatory surgery, and primary care as a care coordinator. Olanna continues to push herself to improve in different ways, and one of those ways has been picking up the torch in developing a new program at NSHC.
For the last two years, Olanna has been working on an RN Career Ladder program to promote high quality patient care, increase retention and recruitment, provide opportunities for career growth, and recognize the efforts of registered nurses.
“I am from this region and plan to live in Nome for a very long time and just wanted a way to advance professionally at Norton Sound,” Olanna said.
After being employed by NSHC for one year, nurses are eligible to submit a portfolio for review to be promoted on the Career Ladder. The portfolios are reviewed by a committee consisting of nurse managers, administration, and human resources. The program’s first round of applications were due in February, and six nurses were chosen to advance to the next level: Anne Ivanoff, Darcee Perkins, Chelsea Hubert, Angela Koehler, Elizabeth Coler, and Olanna herself.
“When I was reviewing these portfolios, it even inspired me to advance and get specialty nursing certifications,” said Olanna, who was recently named chair of the committee.
Anne Ivanoff has been a nurse at NSHC for 24 years and is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist.
“Entering the nursing ladder is a great first step in continuing to develop my nursing goals,” she said. “It provides a path to engagement and participation within NSHC and motivation to continue learning and advancing within my career.”
Ivanoff encourages others to consider a career in nursing.
“The best part of working at NSHC is working with the population of this region and the uniqueness of health care in rural Alaska,” she said. “I have had some incredible opportunities working in different nursing capacities that have brought me to every community and the privilege of meeting and working with some amazing people who have taught me so much over the years.”
Darcee Perkins is a diabetes educator nurse at the CAMP department and is currently working toward a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) credential. She earned her nursing degree through UAA’s nursing program at Northwest Campus and started working at NSHC in 2016. She has been in her current position for just over a year. Perkins appreciates that the RN Career Ladder supports nurses in continuing education and professional development.
“Patient care directly benefits from this when nurses are pursuing higher education, certifications and additional training,” she said. “It broadens abilities, skills, and knowledge which benefits patients and the organization as a whole.”
Perkins enjoys the difference she makes working as a nurse in her hometown.
“Becoming a nurse was the best career decision I could have made,” she said. “Every day, I have the honor of serving people in my community.”
NSHC is proud of the accomplishments of these professional registered nurses and wishes them continued success and professional growth on the RN Career Ladder. Any eligible nurses interested in advancement on the RN Career Ladder can submit an annual portfolio for review. The next deadline is July 30, 2021. For assistance, please contact Theresa Olanna through email or by phone at 907-443-3461.