When newly hired nurses begin caring for patients with strokes, brain injuries, brain tumors, and spinal cord issues at the Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center, Kathryn Snow is waiting for them.
“I ensure our nurses are competent to provide care for these very vulnerable patients,” said Snow, an RN and neuroscience clinical nurse specialist. “All nurses who provide direct care to neuroscience patients come to my introductory 8-hour neuro and stroke education class I teach twice a month.”
The hospital is certified as a comprehensive stroke center and is home to the Advanced Neuroscience Center.
‘A guru of neuroscience and stroke’
Nursing leaders at the Redwood City hospital recently bestowed upon Snow the coveted DAISY Nurse Leader Award. The award “shines a light on those who… create an environment where compassionate, skillful care thrives,” according to the DAISY Foundation.
“I am very proud Kathryn represents Redwood City in earning this award,” said Perla Baldugo, director of Nursing Professional Development in Redwood City. “She is the guru of neuroscience and stroke, and a vital resource to her colleagues. She has accomplished so much since she joined us in 2008 and played an instrumental role in earning our Joint Commission Comprehensive Stroke Certification.”
In addition to the initial class for new hires, Snow presents a yearly stroke education day, has presented at the regional Pacific Stroke Association conference, and nationally at the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses conference. Current projects include developing a protocol for helmet use in post-craniectomy patients and piloting a standardized way for nurses to incorporate the neuro assessment in patient information.
From the time she was in nursing school, neuroscience has always held an interest for her.
“After I got out of nursing school, I was lucky enough to get a job in a neuro intensive care unit, and I never looked back,” said Snow.
Built from the ground up
She joined Kaiser Permanente Redwood City 15 years ago and built the neurology nurse training program from the ground up.
“There was a huge need for it,” Snow said. “The No. 1 thing we teach is how to do a neuro assessment on someone, so the nurse can adequately recognize changes. I also teach neuro anatomy, so they understand the why.”
She sees her job as using science to inform nursing practice with patients who have very complicated ailments.
“I always tell the nurses that one reason patients come to this hospital is for the amazing surgeons and doctors, but nurses have an extremely valuable skill set and literally save lives every day. No matter what time of day or night, there is a nurse at Kaiser Redwood City performing a neuro assessment on a vulnerable patient.”