2011 Superhero of Nursing: Ronald Oman Named The Educator!

Ron Oman’s life has not always been easy. He credits his mentors for guidance in staying on the right path. There was Sister Rose, a Catholic nun, who took Ron under her wing when he was a teenager. Another mentor always encouraged him to keep going, regardless of any difficulties. 

Clearly, he took her advice to heart. Today he is a highly skilled and well-respected clinical educator at Grays Harbor Community Hospital, an acute-care facility in rural Aberdeen, Washington. 

In recognition of his unique talents and dedication to the nursing profession, Ron has been named the Educator, the go-to nurse who has the right answer to every question and who is always ready to share his powers with others. He was nominated by Valerie Whisler, director of Grays Harbor’s Emergency Department (ED). In her nomination, she wrote: “Ron is the Educator Extraordinaire. If I have a question, he always has an answer. And he always has a smile, a positive attitude, and wants to make our hospital better every day.”

Ron was surprised when he learned of the nomination. “It’s nice to be recognized for the work that you do,” he says.

From Orthopedics to Intensive Care

Ron has been a nurse for more than 20 years. His first job was as orthopedics charge nurse at Kuakini Medical Center in Hawaii. Most new hires don’t assume charge nurse responsibilities so soon, but there was a nursing shortage at the time. “When they hired me, I was the only nurse who wasn’t a traveler,” he explains. “That made me the charge nurse.”

After six months in orthopedics, Ron moved into intensive care nursing and eventually became a clinical nurse specialist for acute care and critical care after earning his BSN and master’s degree. He recently completed a post-master’s program. Ron was recruited to Grays Harbor because the hospital was looking for someone with Ron’s experience in education and critical care.

More Than a Job

Not surprisingly, nursing is more than a job to Ron. “My first love is nursing, and education is my passion,” he says. “They are so closely related. What I do gives meaning to my life.” Ron spends part of his day writing educational programs and the other teaching. 

“I think everyone who works with me would agree that we have the best jobs in the hospital,” he says. If needed, he also fills in as house supervisor, coordinating shift-to-shift operations and patient flow. 

One of the challenges that Ron deals with is recruiting for Grays Harbor’s ED. In a rural community, it’s difficult to find nurses with ED and CCU experience. So Grays Harbor relies on its nurse residency program, which Ron helped to develop, in conjunction with the ENA’s online education programs to “grow its own” critical care and emergency nurses and train them to work in these settings. “It’s been a good fit,” Ron explains. “I have been able to help the hospital increase its staff.”

Exceptional Efforts

This is not the first time that Ron’s exceptional efforts have been recognized. While working in Hawaii, he became aware of the many registered nurses who had relocated from the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, China, and Japan. These nurses were forced to work as nursing assistants even though they were RNs in their home country. Ron helped to develop a program that prepared these nurses to pass the RN NCLEX exam. After completing the program, more than 250 nurses passed their RN boards while Ron was involved in the program. In 2003, the Philippine Nurses Association of Hawaii honored Ron for his work. The program continues today. 

Ron is also a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). “No community is immune to domestic violence or assault,” he says. “Having people who are specially trained to respond is important.” He’s also helping to train nurses in other communities. 

Ron’s generous spirit extends beyond the walls of Grays Harbor Community Hospital. When Ron moved to Washington, he was able to afford a five-bedroom house for the same cost as the two-bedroom apartment he had in Hawaii. He decided to fill the extra rooms with foster children. He has fostered 16 children over the years and adopted three of them. 

Ron keeps his performance at its peak by maintaining a healthy work environment. He and his coworkers work at building strong work relationships. To keep his skills sharp, he relies on technology to search out quality educational programs and evidence-based practices. “Thanks to technology, so much information is available now,” he says. “The only question is which technology to choose.”

Join us over the next few months as we celebrate those nurses who go above and beyond every day to move their organizations forward. Learn more at confidenceconnected.com/mosbysheroes.

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