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July 25, 2006 > Clinical Nurse Specialists Exemplify Hospitalís Commitment to Patient Care

Clinical Nurse Specialists Exemplify Hospitalís Commitment to Patient Care

Nursing Professional Appointed to State-wide Task Force

by Washington Hospital

Yvonne Dobbenga-Rhodes, a clinical nurse specialist at Washington Hospital, learned last month that she has been selected to serve on the California Board of Registered Nursing’s Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Task Force, which is scheduled to begin meeting in September.

The board is reconvening a task force that was originally established in 1997. During the next few months, Dobbenga-Rhodes will join other health care professionals on the task force to begin developing CNS regulations outlining standards for the profession’s practice and education in California. The task force consists of members representing practice, education and organizations that employ CNSs.

“I am very honored to be representing Washington Hospital and was a little surprised to be chosen to represent Northern California when there are so many other wonderfully qualified candidates who are just as passionate about the role of the CNS,” Dobbenga-Rhodes says.

Improving care through nursing expertise
Dobbenga-Rhodes is one of six very specialized nursing professionals at Washington Hospital who each have particular field of expertise that he or she brings to the nursing floors and other areas of the hospital.

“The CNS role at Washington Hospital started about 20 years ago with the advent of the hospital’s cardiovascular surgery program and has now expanded to include emergency services, geriatrics, orthopedics, and wound/ostomy care,” Dobbenga-Rhodes explains. “There are six CNSs in practice at Washington Hospital and each of us approaches our role differently, but ultimately we strive to improve patient outcomes. We have all made important contributions to patient care at various levels – by increasing access to care, improving documentation tools for nurses, increasing the competency of staff, as well as increasing communication between all health care providers and patients.”

Clinical nurse specialists research current practices in their given field – in Dobbenga-Rhodes case, obstetrics and pediatrics – and make changes to procedures and policies to reflect these practices, as well as educating other staff members about these new developments in patient care.

“I track the progress of the changes and monitor compliance with local, state, national and federal guidelines,” she says. “I also consult on other maternal/child health patients admitted elsewhere in the hospital – for example, a new mother readmitted for gall stones or possibly a pediatric patient in the emergency department – and consult throughout the hospital for other women’s health issues.”

A commitment to patient care

Having earned her master’s degree in nursing with specialization in women’s health from the University of Rochester, Dobbenga Rhodes, who recently celebrated her 12th anniversary as maternal/child health clinical nurse specialist at Washington Hospital, says one of the reasons she accepted the position at Washington Hospital was “the hospital’s commitment to the CNS role.”
It is fairly atypical to see as many as six clinical nurse specialists under one roof outside a large teaching or research facility, Dobbenga Rhodes explains.
“It’s nice in a community setting to have such a large number of CNSs,” she says. “This gives the hospital a nice avenue into research with the ability to bring current research back to the bedside in all the different areas of expertise our CNSs have.”

“This commitment to patient care,” Dobbenga-Rhodes says, “is exemplified by every nursing professional in the hospital.”

“Nurses at Washington Hospital are here because they want to take care of patients and make them better,” she says. “Nurses at Washington Hospital are here because they want to make themselves better and they know the other nurses at this Hospital actually improve patient care outcomes. It is a very satisfying end to a shift when a nurse can say, ‘Hey, I made a difference in that patient’s life today and maybe even saved his or her life!’”

Find out more

To learn more about careers at Washington Hospital, visit and click on “Careers.”  Washington Hospital has several ways to learn about the programs and professionals that make up your community hospital. InHealth, A Washington Hospital Channel is currently airing “Voices InHealth: Careers in Health Care” on Comcast Channel 78. In this program, Washington Hospital staff members discuss current careers opportunities in the health care profession.

The InHealth program schedule is published weekly in the Tri-City Voice and posted on Washington Hospital’s website at or you can also call Health Connection at (800) 963-7070 for the program schedule. InHealth Channel 78 is available to Comcast subscribers in Newark, Union City and Fremont.

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