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Michigan Nursing Spotlight: Nurses with Mercy

Heather Gates, RN, with colleagues at Mercy Health Saint Mary's
Heather Gates, RN, with colleagues at Mercy Health Saint Mary's

In Michigan, we often hear of nurses “eating their young”, the need for mentorship, and the difficulty new nurses can face when transitioning from the classroom to the bedside. This month, the Michigan Center for Nursing interviewed Heather Gates, RN, to get her perspective on what it’s like to be a new nurse at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids.

Gates, a recent graduate from Bethel College in Indiana, first met Mercy Health at a career fair and felt immediately welcomed. She joined Mercy Health this past July in the 3rd residency cohort. Gates found the extensive residency and orientation programs to be “very valuable”, saying “It was awesome having classes with other new grads…it reminded me that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling with time management or whatever the topic of discussion was that day”.

Working on the Psychiatric Medical Unit (PMU) has been particularly rewarding for Gates. Mentors are assigned to all new nurses in the unit in order to offer professional and emotional support. Experienced nurses do their best to spend time with the new graduates to ensure that they feel confident and supported in their new position.

Gates has been off orientation for nearly a month now, and is enjoying her experience so far. “I’m still asking questions all the time and I never feel stupid for asking them” said Gates, adding that “everyone is so helpful. If one person is swamped with a ton of work, the other nurses are always asking if they can help”. The teamwork initiatives are interprofessional as well “The PCA’s and nurses work well together too. It is a team effort every day here”.

What steps are your organizations taking to foster new talent? How can we turn Michigan nursing into something that is known for cohesion, teamwork, and support? Send your thoughts and ideas to the Michigan Center for Nursing by emailing Ana Walker at and your story may be featured in next month’s Michigan Nursing Spotlight.

The Michigan Center for Nursing is a service of the Michigan Health Council, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to creating a culture of health with health professionals at the heart of the delivery system. Learn more at



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