The Menninger Clinic is excited to welcome three talented new mental health nurses to its clinical staff. Ann-Marie Thacker, BSN, RN; Michelle Olufemi, BSN, RN; and Tiauna Douglas, BSN, RN (pictured above from left to right) are all recent graduates of Menninger’s Betty Ann Stedman Psychiatric Nurse Residency program, which offers newly degreed nurses a prized six-month paid internship at Menninger. Supported entirely by donors to The Menninger Clinic Foundation, the program imparts in-depth psychiatric nursing knowledge to residents while addressing the nation’s critical nursing shortage.
Skilled and compassionate psychiatric nurses are needed more than ever. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the nation will face a shortage of 250,000 mental health professionals by the year 2025. Meanwhile, the need for mental health services continues to grow. Ensuring that up-and-coming nurses are equipped to take on the challenges of psychiatric nursing is vital to helping fill the workforce gap.
“The mental health needs we are dealing with are daunting,” says Nancy Palyo, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, vice president and chief nursing officer. “We need to help nurses feel more confident and have a framework for caring for psychiatric patients. The competencies in the Betty Ann Stedman Psychiatric Nurse Residency provide just that.”
For Olufemi, who will be joining the full-time nursing staff of Menninger’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Assessment Service (CPAS), the decision to earn her nursing degree came after spending almost five years as a certified public accountant. She discovered the Stedman nurse residency while researching post-graduate training opportunities, and says she knew Menninger was where she needed to be.
“Working as a nurse resident at Menninger is like being adopted into a really large loving family,” says Olufemi. “From the first day I started, I felt like I belonged. That feeling of acceptance has rooted me here and has allowed me to feel comfortable bringing my true self to work every day.”
Thacker’s path to Menninger was bit more fortuitous. She had long planned to study musical theater in college but made a last-minute switch to nursing because she felt it aligned with her empathetic nature. Later, she had a chance encounter with a prospective employer who recognized her passion for mental health and encouraged her to apply to the Stedman nurse residency program. “She was my guardian angel,” Thacker says, “because I feel like I was meant to be here. I am so excited to officially join the Menninger team.” Thacker will soon bring her nursing skills and compassion to the Program for Professionals.
Douglas knew from the start that her ultimate career goal was to make a difference in the mental health field. She double-majored in nursing and psychology and says becoming a Stedman Nurse Resident was one of the best decisions she has ever made.
“It was amazing to work with different populations and learn skills from several preceptors,” Douglas says. “The fact that the residency is six months is great because it truly gives a newly graduated nurse just the right amount of time to transition into the [mental health] specialty.”
Douglas looks forward to joining Olufemi as part of the CPAS unit’s nursing staff.
All the residents will begin their new careers at Menninger in January 2022, just as the next class of Stedman Nurse Residents arrives to train at The Clinic.