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Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center Celebrates 75 Years

Feature Article

Education & Training Are Key to Samaritan Success

Joni Scholz, RN, saw firsthand the growth in training and education offered to employees over the years while working at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. In fact, she was so motivated by the education leaders that she eventually became one.

Scholz, who celebrated her retirement party earlier this year, split a little over half her career as a nurse serving in the Center for Women & Families. She then became a preceptor and educator for the second half of her career with Samaritan.

An avid runner who once competed in the Boston Marathon, Scholz recalled being overwhelmed during her first weeks on the nursing floor of the old Good Samaritan Hospital after transferring from a position at the Corvallis Clinic in 1975.

“I was working nights,” said Scholz. “We didn’t have a long formal orientation back in the day. I had one nurse’s aide working with me and, after a brief orientation, I was by myself, scared to death.”

A solace to her work at night was Eldon Younger, MD, a well known Corvallis pediatrician who told her she could call him day or night. Younger was honored upon his retirement in 1994 by the City of Corvallis with a play structure in Avery Park.

“Bless his heart,” Scholz said. “There were several times when I called him even if he wasn’t on call, but his wife said it was OK. He was reassuring. I always felt better knowing that I could call any time, because we had sometimes 20 babies in the nursery with just me and an aide.”

Join Scholz takes care of a an infant at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.

Joni takes care of an infant in her early days as a nurse at Good Sam.

Scholz only briefly worked in the crowded hallways of the Old Good Sam on Harrison Boulevard because by the end of her first year on the job the hospital moved to its current location.

“We had a different rapport with the doctors then,” said Scholz “They were sitting in the nurse’s station. They would come in in the morning and visit, take time to visit with the nurses. They were part of our team.”

One of the changes Scholz saw over the years was the growth in respect and credibility nurses received.  “I think there’s a lot more leveling of the playing field,” said Scholz.

Scholz spent several years working alongside her close friend Carol Carter and when Carter retired, Scholz decided to obtain a master’s degree in health education and transferred to Professional Development.

“It was kind of like my dream job because I really looked up to these educators that worked in that department,” said Scholz. 

When Scholz first joined the department, the 20 or so staff members were more like general educators. Their job included new employee orientation.

“Then we got to be a little more specialty oriented,” said Scholz. “I became the perinatal pediatric educator.”

With educators specializing in departments such as ICU and Med/Surg, the team grew to 30 with the need of additional support staff.

Halfway into her professional development tenure the Graduate Medical Education Program started in Corvallis. Scholz credits Nancy Bell’s leadership in recognizing what GME could offer and the benefits GME would add to the Samaritan system.

Joni Scholz, with her co-workers, Janice Russnogle and Katie Barker at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.

Joni, with co-workers, Janice Russnogle and Katie Barker at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.

Often the students were required to attend Scholz’s classes or mock drills.

“It was kind of an eye opener to me to see that in their education they really were required to do much of what the nursing students were required to do,” said Scholz. “There were parallels, they were here to learn, and they had a lot of respect for the staff.”

Scholz went on to earn a national teaching certification, which allowed her to broaden the education she taught to other disciplines. This included conducting classes and mock drills for multidisciplinary staff.

“We had nurses, physicians, med students, nursing students, respiratory therapists, CNAs, many different disciplines that we were able to bring together for classes,” said Scholz. “What I saw over that period of time is the collaboration of these different disciplines.”

In her final 20 years with Samaritan, Scholz saw this growth of best practices across the entire Samaritan system.

“I learned that there were different resources available to the staff at the smaller hospitals, yet they functioned very well with what they had,” said Scholz. “I learned to respect that. I felt like I grew a lot as an educator, too, just being exposed to the five different hospitals.”

As time went on, Scholz also saw those physician and nursing staff relationships develop just like the early days inside the Women’s Center nursing unit.

“I think physicians recognized the importance of the nursing staff as many of them became certified in their specialty, and I think they learned to recognize and respect that,” said Scholz.

Scholz still checks in with nursing friends at the hospital when she is in the area.

“Overall, the highlight of my career in nursing and education was really precepting and mentoring the new nurses that came in,” said Scholz. “I could put myself in their shoes and remember how it was being a new nurse. I felt if we were there to support them and mentor them through those early months and early years, they were going to become integrated and probably stay with us longer.”

Watch for more articles about Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center as we celebrate 75 years of service to the mid-Willamette Valley and central Oregon coast.