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Nursing student finds inspiring mentor who helps her soar

From left: Rona Rodriguez, RN, and Annie Fenner, Nursing Assistant
From left: Rona Rodriguez, RN, and Annie Fenner, Nursing Assistant
At Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS), we like to say we are family. And after a challenging year, we are feeling especially grateful for friendships formed here.

We’re reminded it’s about relationships! Healthy relationships keep us connected, and teamwork builds our resilience. And for the residents we support, it makes a difference when they see us enjoy serving together.

Others take notice as well. PHS’s positive reputation is why Nursing Assistant Annie Fenner says she applied here. A nursing student at Bethel University in Saint Paul, MN, Annie says, “I heard that Presbyterian Homes is one of the best.”

She hasn’t been disappointed. While juggling school, Annie serves at Boutwells Landing near Stillwater, MN. “I’m getting a lot of background knowledge and experience working as a nursing assistant,” she says.

Again, it’s about relationships! Annie adds, “I love our nurses so much because they’ve instilled a lot of trust in me.”

She’s especially grateful for mentoring from Rona Rodriguez, an RN at Boutwells Landing. Annie says, “Rona takes the utmost care of residents,” and “her gentle and genuine kindness is just so unique.”

Annie explains, “I got hired on my 18th birthday, so I’m like the baby there. And Rona’s been a nurse for a long time – so to have that relationship is really cool. And as a nursing assistant I’ve never, ever felt that Rona, as an RN, was above me. We work together as a team. She’s my role model, and I aspire to her level of care as a future nurse.”

Rona sees Annie’s potential, saying, “The nursing profession is going to be really lucky to have her. I would encourage her to continue the path because she has so much to offer.”

A little encouragement along that path goes a long way. Annie says, “I tell Rona everything. She’s so high energy. I go into work and she’s like, ‘Hi! What’s up? What’s new?’”

Last week Annie answered Rona, “Well, I’m about to head to Starbucks to grab a coffee.” Then Rona opened her wallet and slipped her an unused Starbucks gift card.

Annie tried to politely refuse. But Rona was firm in her offer, saying, “I appreciate you, so you go buy yourself a coffee!”

In big and little ways, Rona and PHS nurses empower others to excel as caregivers. Annie notes, “I feel that from the knowledge that Rona and other nurses have given me, I’m able to help out new nursing assistants. It has a ripple effect.”

“We Will” is a series that spotlights inspiring examples of teamwork at PHS. With God’s blessing, We Will work together to build a better, brighter future for the older adults we serve.

Do you know someone looking for more purpose in their work? Share the good news and the many opportunities to join our team at Rated #1 employer in Minnesota by Forbes!

You might also be interested in:
The fast track to becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) with PHS
Clinical Administrator Joshua Orenge, RN, writes about a leader who inspires him
Make Your Mark: Sheila Tandingan, RN, a selfless steward

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