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Office of Nursing Services (ONS)

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Clinical Practice Program (CPP)

The Clinical Practice Program (CPP) was developed by the Office of Nursing Services (ONS) to support nursing practice at the point of care. The program currently consists of ten Field Advisory Committees (FACs) in the following specialties: Cardiovascular, Geriatrics and Extended Care, Mental Health, Metabolic Syndrome/Diabetes, Oncology, Perioperative, Polytrauma & Rehabilitation, Emergency Department, Pain Management, and ICU. The FACs develop policies in coordination with other VHA program offices and to disseminate communication to the field.

The Clinical Nurse Advisors serve as Subject Matter Experts to the Chief Nursing Officer and represent ONS on a variety of national committees and work groups. In addition, they are responsible for leading their ONS FAC in the development, promotion, and diffusion of best practices promoting enhanced Veteran access.

Each FAC is comprised of field-based nurses, representing all nursing roles and levels of education. The Clinical Nurse Advisors guide their FACs in

  1. Aligning work of assigned patient populations with National Nursing Strategic Goals/Objectives.
  2. Identifying/developing and/or recommending:
    • best practice, clinical practice guidelines, standards of care, and policy guidance
    • staff/patient/caregiver training and educational priorities
    • products and/or tools for use by nursing staff at the point of care
    • research agenda for clinical inquiries
    • publications and appropriate mechanisms for dissemination of best practices
    • potential oversight functions needed in the field in the area of focus

Suzanne Thorne-Odem

Clinical Practice Program Manager
Suzanne Thorne-Odem, DNP, APRN, FNP-C serves as the Clinical Practice Program Manager. She has worked at the VA for 30 years. Suzy provides additional support for a variety of projects in the Office of Nursing Services including initiatives related to mental health, homelessness and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). She has a passion for forensic nursing and has practiced as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), as well as, a Medical Examiner Investigator. She also serves as a Nurse Practitioner and has volunteered as a provider in the care of homeless and uninsured patients.

Jennifer Ballard-Hernandez

Cardiovascular Clinical Nurse Advisor
Jennifer Ballard-Hernandez, DNP, AG/ACNP-BC, FNP-BC, GNP-BC, CVNP-BC, CCRN, CHFN, AACC, FAHA, FAANP is the Cardiovascular Clinical Nurse Advisor for the Office of Nursing Services. She is field based at the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center in Long Beach, California where she works as a Cardiology Nurse Practitioner. Her clinical practice focuses on general cardiology and advanced heart failure management. Dr. Ballard-Hernandez completed her Family Nurse Practitioner training at the University of California, Irvine, her Acute Care Nurse Practitioner training at the University of Pennsylvania, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree at the Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Ballard-Hernandez has published her work in several peer reviewed journals and has lectured nationally for multiple professional organizations on a variety of cardiology topics including heart failure, care transitions, and cardiac stress testing. She currently serves as the a co-investigator of qualitative and quantitative research, examining the application of palliative care in heart failure and pharmacologic research for atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Dr. Ballard-Hernandez serves on several national committees and is currently appointed to the Federal Cardiology Section Leadership Council for the American College of Cardiology.

The Cardiovascular FAC is made up of ten nurses from around the country and includes staff nurses, nurse managers and nurse practitioners. They actively work on many cardiac nursing projects and represent nurses on a variety of national committees.

Dave Pena

Emergency Department Clinical Nurse Advisor
David Pena MSN, MBA, RN, CEN,  has 15 years of nursing experience all of which is in Emergency Medicine and is certified in Emergency Nursing by the Emergency Nursing Association. He has been the Emergency Department Manager in Madison, WI since 2013 and has been part of the Emergency Nursing Field Advisory Committee since 2015. Dave currently serves in the United States Army Reserves as a Major in the Emergency Room and was deployed to Afghanistan in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where he served in the ER, ICU, OR, Lab, and IT. He most recently came back from 16 months on active duty as the Mobilization Officer for 2 units that were being deployed to various theaters of operations. Dave also works at a local level 3 Trauma Center in the ER as a staff nurse on a per diem basis. Prior to joining the VA Mr. Pena worked in the private sector at a level 3 Trauma Center, Stroke Center, and Chest Pain Center in Northeastern Wisconsin as an ER RN and then as a Medical/Surgical Nurse Supervisor. Mr. Pena earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and his Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration with emphasis on Healthcare Administration from The University of Phoenix, AZ. Dave has a wife and three children (ages 3, 6, and 7).

The Emergency Department Field Advisory Committee (FAC) consists of eight nurses ranging from staff nurses to nurse managers.

Jenice Guzman

Geriatrics and Extended Care Clinical Nurse Advisor
Jenice Guzman, PhD, GNP-BC, is a certified Gerontological Nurse Practitioner at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Geriatrics Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) Outpatient Clinic in West Los Angeles. She has been with the VA since 2001 and has worked in the field of geriatrics/gerontology for over 20 years. She received her education from the UCLA School of Nursing and currently serves as an Assistant Clinical Professor there. She is a primary care provider to a panel of frail older Veterans, a program developer for the GLA GRECC’s various clinical demonstration projects, and is a junior nurse researcher in the field of home telehealth use in older Veterans.

The Geriatrics and Extended Care Field Advisory Committee is made of 10 field based members with expertise in geronotological nursing practicing in a variety of patient care settings. Current projects/workgroups include: hospice and palliative care staffing considerations in the inpatient/CLC setting, dysphagia guidelines in the CLC, CLC RN Assessment Toolkit/Webinars/DecisionSim Scenarios, and serving as subject matter experts on various VHA committees with the goal of improving care of older Veterans. Russell S. Coggins

ICU/Med-Surg Clinical Nurse Advisor
Russell S. Coggins, RN, MSN   is the Clinical Nurse Advisor of the ONS ICU/Med-Surg Field Advisory Committee and has been a member of that group since 2011. He has worked as a Registered Nurse since 1997. The majority of his nursing career has been spent working in various Critical Care Units as a staff nurse. Russ has been with the VA since 2007, a Nurse Manager since 2008 and is currently the Nurse Manager of the Surgical ICU of the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, NC. He earned his BSN from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC, and his MSN from Walden University. He is a member of the VISN 6 IPEC Steering Committee and Chair of the VISN 6 Nurse Manager Academy Planning Committee as well as various facility committees. He is a Veteran, having served in the US Army during Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a M1A1 Armor Crewman, in the Tennessee National Guard as a Cavalry Scout Platoon Leader and in the Army Reserve as an Officer with the Army Nurse Corps.

Elizabeth Czekanski

Mental Health Clinical Nurse Advisor
Elizabeth Czekanski, DNP, MS, RN-BC, NE-BC, VHA-CM joined the VA Pittsburgh Health System in 2006 as a psychiatric nurse manager. Prior to joining the VA, she began her career working for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as a staff nurse and as a multi-unit manager of inpatient psychiatry and chemical dependency units contributing to her 17 years as a psychiatric nurse manager. Throughout her nursing career, Dr. Czekanski has worked in various roles including as Director of a residential program for homeless, chemically addicted women and as an independent legal nurse consultant. Since 2008 she has served as Adjunct Faculty at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, teaching psychiatric-mental health nursing. Dr. Czekanski earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Carlow University and currently holds two ANCC Board Certifications, as a Nurse Executive and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse, and is certified as a VHA mentor. She is a 2011 graduate of the VA Network Executive Healthcare Leadership Institute and is currently serving as the Office of Nursing Service Mental Health Clinical Nurse Advisor.

The Mental Health Field Advisory Committee completed several projects including a RN Guide for Psycho-educational Groups, a Toolkit for Teaching Diabetes Self-Management, and several fact sheets. The Mental Health FAC provides consultation to behavioral programs throughout the VA system.   

Sharon Watts

Metabolic Syndrome/Diabetes Clinical Nurse Advisor
Sharon A. Watts DNP, FNP-BC, CDE has been a nurse practitioner for 30 years, has her Nursing Doctorate from Case Western Reserve University and is a Certified Diabetes Educator and Family Nurse Practitioner. She is active in diabetes quality improvement research and publishing manuscripts on diabetes. She holds a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma Quality Improvement.  She has been an invited  guest speaker for National Diabetes Forums such as American Diabetes Association, American Association of Diabetes Educators and VA/DoD National conferences. Sharon sits on many local and National diabetes related committees.  She  has been a member of and currently serves as Chair of the Metabolic Syndrome & Diabetes Field Advisory Committee (FAC).

The Metabolic Syndrome/Diabetes Field Advisory Committee has 9 members and current projects/workgroups include: diabetes competencies for both inpatient/outpatient nurses & education modules for nurses.

Lori Hoffman-Hogg

Oncology Clinical Nurse Advisor
Lori Hoffman Hogg, MS, RN, CNS, AOCN ®  is the VHA National Oncology Clinical Advisor for the Office of Nursing Services and Chair of the Oncology Nursing Field Advisory Committee (ONC-FAC). Currently the National Program Manager, Prevention Policy for the VHA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention- NCP (10P4N) Durham, NC, she has also served as the Cancer Program Director at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center in Upstate, New York. Lori holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Nursing and Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Health from the State University of New York Health Science Center. She is an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse by the ONCC. She has worked for the VA for over 19 years and is a graduate of the VHA Executive Career Field Development Program. Nationally, she has served as planning committee member and faculty for the VHA Cancer Care Collaborative and Co-Director for the VHA Surgical and Specialty Care Collaborative for Medicine. She is consultant to the Patient Care Services ONC-FAC and is a member of the VHA Radiation Oncology Field Advisory Committee and Radiation Palliative Care Task Force. Lori serves on the VHA Executive Comprehensive End of Life Care Committee and the National Center for Ethics in HealthCare Life Sustaining Treatment Advisory Board along with the National Goals of Care Conversation Project. She is a VA representative to the NCI - National Cancer Institute’s Quality Cancer Care Committee and is appointed to the National Academies Institute of Medicine (IOM) National Cancer Policy Forum.

The Oncology FAC has 12 expert members who are well versed in hematology/oncology and radiation oncology nursing practices for cancer care across the continuum, ensuring evidence based care for this patient population. Project and workgroup outcomes include: Chemotherapy/Biotherapy Competency Handbook, testing and validation of nursing sensitive indicators with ONS and the Office of Quality and Performance; development of functional statement for the cancer care coordinator role for navigation; oncology skills documentation tools; sample oncology policies and patient education; developing cancer survivorship resources for VHA, and participating in lecture series development such as Cancer Care Essentials for the PACT RN Care Managers.

Andy Tracy

Pain Management Clinical Nurse Advisor
Andy Tracy PhD, CRNA  serves as the Pain Clinical Nurse Advisor for the Office of Nursing Services. He is field based at Lovell Federal Healthcare Center in North Chicago, IL where he works as a nurse anesthetist. Dr. Tracy is an Assistant Professor for Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and conducts both qualitative and quantitative research. He earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his MSN in Nurse Anesthesia from Rush University in Chicago, IL. Dr. Tracy also serves on numerous local, state, and national committees. He is a veteran having served in the US Army during Desert Storm and in the WI National Guard.

The Pain Field Advisory Committee was recently reformed and is comprised of 12 field based members with a wide range of experience and expertise.

Lisa Warner

Perioperative Clinical Nurse Advisor
Lisa Warner, RN, MHA, CNOR is the Clinical Nurse Advisor for the Perioperative Field Advisory Committee. Lisa is field based at the Phoenix VA Medical Center in Arizona where she also works half time as a Surgical Quality Nurse. Prior to this role, she served as the nurse manager of the OR, PACU and Same Day Surgery for over 13 years. She serves as a member of the OR Nurse Manager Advisory Board for the National Surgery Office, is a member on the Optimizing Patient Flow & Technology (OPF&T), is a member of the CIS/ARK Advisory Board, is a member of the VISN 18 Sterile Processing Services (SPS) Committee and VISN 18 Surgical Work group.

The Perioperative Field Advisory Committee (FAC) has 11 members. The FAC facilitates monthly conference calls with OR Nursing Leader, Ambulatory Surgery Center Nursing Leader and manages the OR Nurse Leader SharePoint. The FAC is currently involved in or working on the following projects: Working with System Redesign on Surgical Flow Improvement Initiative, working with DoD, the American Pain Society and the American Society of Anesthesiologists to develop post-operative pain guidelines, working on best practice for cleaning the OR, decreasing distractions in the OR, encourage a smoke free environment, examine the RNFA role as an adjunct to resident staffing and developing an educational tool for Vista Intraoperative Nursing Documentation.

Susan Pejoro

Polytrauma Clinical Nurse Advisor
Susan Pejoro, RN, MSN, GNP-BC is the Office of Nursing Services Clinical Nurse Advisor for the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Field Advisory Committee. Ms. Pejoro is a Board Certified Gerontological Nurse Practitioner with over 23 years spinal cord injury nursing expertise currently employed at the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Health Care System as an Inpatient Nurse Practitioner. Prior positions include leadership roles in the Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events in Washington D.C. as both the Deputy Director and Acting Director during FY2013 addressing and aligning the clinical priority of rehabilitation and adaptive sports for our nations Veterans with disabilities as well as collaborating with Veterans Health Administration leadership to support adaptive sports for its long term health benefits. She is a former Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Consortium for Clinical Practice Guidelines committee member representing ASCIP - Nursing Section from 2011- 2013. Ms. Pejoro was also selected an expert reviewer for the PVA Consortium for Clinical Practice Guidelines: Preservation of Upper Limb Function Following SCI and Sexuality & Reproductive Health. And, she is a current expert reviewer for the Journal of Sexuality and Disability.

The Polytrauma Rehabilitation Field Advisory Committee (PFAC) has 10 members. They represent all aspects of Polytrauma Rehabilitation and the diverse roles that are a crucial component of the Polytrauma System of Care, serving the OEF, OIF, OND (Afghanistan and Iraq) Veterans and their families. Members of the PFAC assisted in drafting components for the Caregiver Legislation, in developing the Spinal Cord Injury content for the Veterans Health Library and provided input for revisions to many handbooks and policies.

Shantia McCoy-Jones

Pressure Injury Prevention and Management Clinical Nurse Advisor
Shantia McCoy-Jones, MSN, RN, CRNP, CWCN is the Office of Nursing Service Clinical Nurse Advisor for the Pressure Injury Prevention & Management Field Advisory Committee. She is field based at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA where she serves as the Wound Specialist for Geriatric and Extended Care. She has over 20 years’ experience in nursing and wound care. Shantia began her career in critical care but realized early that her passion was education and wound care. Shantia earned a BSN from Mansfield University and a MSN in Adult Health Nurse Practitioner and post masters in Family Nurse Practitioner; Nursing Education; and Wound, Ostomy and Continence nursing from La Salle University. She is a doctoral candidate (PhD) in Nursing Science at Widener University School of Nursing and a Jonas Foundation Nurse Leader Scholar (2016-18). Shantia’s passion for Veterans’ health and wound care management lead her to the VA where she currently manages Veterans with skin and wound complications. As a SME for PI prevention, Shantia assisted in the development of two new mobile apps, VA Pressure Ulcer/Injury Resource (VA PUR/release July 2017) and the Skin Check app (tentative release 2018-19). Shantia’s hopes to use her research to educate nurses on the use of mobile technology to improve health outcomes of Veterans with pressure injuries.

The Pressure Injury Prevention & Management Field Advisory Committee (PI FAC) has 10 expert members from diverse specialties from across the VA who represent all aspects of PI prevention and management at all levels of nursing and direct point of care. The PI FAC provide expert consultation throughout the VA system on PI policy and practice, education, prevention and management. The committee projects: PI Prevention Directive, PI, Skin and Wound Toolkit; CLC/CNA education, VA Pressure Ulcer Resource (VA PUR) mobile app; Skin Check app (release tentative 2018); PI education and training resource guides; and expert panel lecture education series. .