“Through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

Stonerise Care Blog

A Place for Nurses to Learn and Advance

By Stonerise

Some people grow up with a career goal in mind, and others land the job that suits their circumstances. Still others start in a position and only then see the opportunities it can provide for advancement.

Some people, like Stonerise Rainelle Director of Nursing Serena O’Dell (pictured at right on the left), are a combination of all three. But no matter what brings a team member through the doors of Stonerise, the organization’s high standards and family atmosphere provide a loving environment that helps people grow and advance.

The career path for Serena probably seems perfectly obvious to any observer. But it wasn’t that clear-cut to her.

“Stephanie was always saying things like, ‘when you’re Director of Nursing one day,’ and I would always say ‘no,’” Serena said recently with a laugh.

The Stephanie she’s referring to is Stephanie Clay, who recently took a Clinical Quality Consultant position, supporting the entire Stonerise Network, after spending four years as Assistant Director of Nursing and the following six years as Director of Nursing (DON) at Stonerise Rainelle.

For Stephanie, coaching and encouraging those around her is just part of how she operates. But for Serena, it meant having a mentor with constant support that helped challenge her to reach her highest potential — even before she could see it herself.

Serena says her mother was a medical assistant and her grandmother was a social worker in long-term care, so her goal was always to be a nurse. She started CNA classes while she was still in high school and got her CNA license when she was 18. She got right to work for Meadow Garden, the local predecessor to Stonerise and went to RN school after that. And even though she repeatedly said she would never work in long-term care, once she began the work, she never stopped.

“Long-term care is portrayed, while you’re in nursing school, as a very un-challenging position,” she said. “I prefer to have something that constantly challenges me. Little did I know just how challenging and rewarding it would be.”

But as an 18-year-old CNA, Serena didn’t exactly seek out advancement. “I was a teenager, I knew everything,” she said with a laugh. “I didn’t pay attention to mentorship or support.”

Stephanie saw Serena as an opportunity to coach a valuable team member to provide quality care and to stay in long-term care.

Serena first worked in long-term care in Ohio after RN school, then returned to Stonerise and Stephanie.

“She was just a teenager,” Stephanie said. “I heard she had moved away to go to RN school, and she had come back and was going to apply for evening shift manager position, and, I wondered what she would be like. I took her under my wing and coached her, and I was surprised to find out how much she hadn’t been taught in her previous role.”

Stephanie said Serena was a sponge, constantly wanting to learn, so Stephanie was continually teaching. Stephanie used her own background as a trauma nurse in an emergency room to share some of those acute skills with Serena to help in patient assessment and keeping hospitalization numbers down.

For Serena, the second time she worked with Stephanie, she was interacting with her superior from a whole different perspective. “I would do a job and then I would find myself looking for more, and Stephanie was always there to feed that,” Serena said, and that’s when Serena realized she preferred the management side of things.

“Stephanie encouraged me to think outside the box, see the bigger picture and understand things better on this side of the fence compared to being on the floor,” Serena said.

Stephanie said Serena’s drive and character were on display when twice she was passed over for more senior positions.

Serena ended up landing an RN unit manager position and frequently asking her mentor how she could keep improving.

“She was in the office with me the whole time she was a unit manager,” Stephanie said. “She was so quick at learning, and I just kept teaching her.”

“I saw potential in her as a Director of Nursing early on, and I basically started teaching her how to be a DON.”

Stephanie explains that the coaching culture is part of achieving the quality of care Stonerise is known for.

“I’ve seen with many other nurses who come from long-term care facilities to our center, which does both long-term and also short-term transitional care, they’ll say our standards are too high, and ask how can they realistically do it,” Stephanie said. “I just tell them our standards aren’t going anywhere, so I’ll help you get there. And some people are not receptive, and that’s disappointing sometimes, but that’s OK.

“Stonerise Rainelle has been a five-star center pretty consistently since 2017, and we’ve built a team of people passionate about doing the right thing. We have a motto to do what’s right, not what’s easy.”

Stephanie said she did not get much coaching early in her career and found herself as the most senior nurse in her department after having just graduated. That feeling of being thrown into the deep end not only helped her grow, but Stephanie said it also helped her realize how important it is to build up those around you.

“I feel like everybody touches your life along the way, and I’ve had many mentors in my life,” she said. “I’ve also had managers who weren’t very encouraging, and I think you grow from those situations, so I’m glad I went through all of it.”

Serena O'Dell Director of Nursing

Serena said the entire team prides itself in coaching one another, and she continues to get a lot of support from the entire staff, especially since she worked with many of them as they all have progressed in their own career journeys.

And even though Serena has only worked for two different healthcare providers, she confidently said Stonerise has a different kind of culture, with frequent promotions from within. “You can tell the staff are cared about, and they’re not just numbers,” Serena said.

Stonerise is known for investing in its team members and promoting from within when possible. “We love to see our team members advance and we provide clear pathways for career advancement,” said Beth Nesselrodt, VP of Human Resources.