Coffee with the CNO part of effort to 'bring joy back to nursing'

A dozen night shift nurses and nursing support associates recently came for an early morning "Coffee with Carla" at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis.

Many were wearing their Nurses Week T-shirts, either last year's "Nurses inspire nurses" or this year's "Compassion, courage and commitment," and came prepared to offer their observations and ideas.

The purpose of the gathering is to listen to those serving at the bedside and hear directly from them about their working environment.

"Is the transformation of nursing documentation developed by the Nursing Center of Excellence having an impact?" asked Carla Yost, chief nursing officer for Ascension Kansas.

Absolutely, they said.

"An admission assessment used to take an hour and a half," said Andra McCarty, RN, a night shift charge nurse for the 42-bed medical surgical unit on 8SW and 8SE at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis. "Now you can just knock it out in about 20 minutes." That's important, she added, on nights when you have 10 admits.

Such initiatives are part of an effort to ensure that nurses can devote more time to their patients and less time to activities that don't add value.

"It's an effort to bring joy back to nursing," Yost told the group.

Yost provided an update on the 125 graduate nurses who will be joining Ascension Via Christi between now and September and the plans to keep traveling nurses in place until onboarding of the new graduates is complete.

That was well received because having the travelers has been a godsend, they said, with one nurse noting, "The day starts off 100 percent better when you know you have the help you need."

Sara Herridge, director of Nursing Transformation, and Shaunda Rakestraw, who serves as a Nursing career coach, were also on hand to listen to the bedside associates' feedback.

After the coffee, Yost, Herridge and Rakestraw rounded on the Medical Intensive Care Unit, which serves as the primary COVID-19 ICU, and the 42-bed where eighth-floor medical-surgical unit McCarty works, delivering fruit and pastries as an expression of Nursing leadership's gratitude for their efforts.

While on the units, they heard from one nurse who said he was glad to have served during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that 40 years from now he will have stories to tell his grandchildren. They also spoke with two traveling nurses who shared how welcoming the culture at Ascension Via Christi has been, which was markedly different from what they have experienced elsewhere.

Asked to elaborate, they noted the mission, prayer during huddles and the relentless focus on speaking up and asking questions, leading to a culture of patient safety.

"It was an uplifting experience hearing from our nursing associates," says Yost. "I am looking forward to scheduling more 'Coffee with Carla' sessions. This one was the highlight of my week."

To find jobs at Ascension Via Christi, go to