LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Of the many East Texas hospitals that participated in the Southeast Texas Advisory Council's Operation Purple Haze drill - this year it focused on a chemical release scenario - nurses at CHI St. Luke's Memorial Lufkin campus used this as an additional opportunity to work on recruitment.
Several nursing students from Hudson High School and Angelina College participated in the drill by acting as "patients." Along with gaining clinical hours during the semester, this drill turned into another opportunity for peer nurses to cultivate the student, who could soon join them as co-workers.
"One it gives them a little more motivation saying, 'Hey! This is where I'll be working. How exciting is that?'" explained "Michael Plankers, Chief Nursing Officer, who has been in nursing for 25 years. "And the second, is it may give them an opportunity at that time to make choices about where they want to specialize at."
Angelina College Nursing instructor Elizabeth Powell also teaches on the Hudson Campus for its licensed vocational nurse program.
"The more time they spend here doing these kind of drills and on the floors, the more comfortable they feel working with the nurses in the environment, they feel like this is a place they can come to work," said Powell, who also participated in the drill as a patient.
Julie Vallani, the assistant human resources director at CHI St. Luke's Memorial, said part of their staffing plan of drawing certified nurses includes an active and routine engagement of area schools.
"We currently have a recruitment effort set up with Angelina College and Stephen F. Austin State University," Villani said. "We get many of our nurses from those colleges upon graduation."
Hudson High School senior Allison Aleman, who is a native of California, said she is so excited to be in the LVN program at Hudson.
"I thought I would miss having a senior year, which I kind of somewhat do, but at the same time, I'm glad I'm doing this program in place of it," Aleman said excitedly.
After graduating high school in May, she completes her LVN program with certification in August. So, doing clinical and with ongoing interactions with nursing staff, she said she'll go on to become a registered nurse and come to work at CHI.
"We can see how prepared this hospital is, what all they do to prepare themselves for certain things, situations and it kind of gives you a feel for how the hospital runs itself," Aleman said,
Students said they really enjoy their clinicals at the hospital, as well as participating in drills who are doing their clinicals say they really enjoy. It allows them to network with people who some may become their coworkers.
Anthony Limbrick, a 2012 graduate of Lufkin High School, is a nursing student at AC.
"I wanted a career where I could help people and give back to humanity," Limbrick said. "And having clinicals here, I see having a good vibe with the employees here. And I'll have a positive work-related situation.
CHI peer nurses here say that's who they want to recruit: a person with passion and compassion.