Monarch Nurses Provide Hope, Healing and Care

Nurse dressed in blue scrubs holding someone's handsNurses enter their chosen career from a variety backgrounds, ethnicities and experience. Traits they have in common include their passion for caring and helping others. These traits can’t be taught in a classroom but are part of who they are. Monarch nurses point out that listening to people who seek mental health and long-term services support is also an important component of care.

With over 50 nurses employed across North Carolina, they provide compassionate care for people with mental illness, working in behavioral health outpatient clinic settings supporting medical treatment, and intellectual and developmental disabilities, providing care and medication management, in our group home and day program settings.

Every mental health and long-term services patient story is unique and nurses are there to support them to feel heard. Director of Nursing Services, Long-Term Services and Supports, Selina Olomua, MSN, BSN, RN, PMH-BC, says, “Monarch nurses strive to alleviate patient fears, apprehension, or uncertainty and it is why psychiatric mental health nurses work in this field. Nothing compares to improving the lives of others,” she says.

In honor of National Nurses Week, May 6 – 12, several Monarch nurses and the important work that they do to provide care is highlighted below. Find out how they incorporating compassion, listening and experience to provide excellent care.

Joyce Pettengill, RN, Wake Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC), Raleigh

Monarch Nurse Joyce Pettengill

Working in a decades long career covering a variety of nursing fields, Joyce decided to venture into caring for patients with mental illness. She joined Monarch at the beginning of 2023, making the switch from recently working in the emergency medical field. She has also worked in surgery and obstetrics throughout her career.
Monarch’s BHUC located in Raleigh provides walk-in mental health care to people experiencing a crisis from ages 4-years-old and up.

“I love the work we do at the BHUC and enjoy watching the people we see, young and old, leave with the hope that there is a plan to feel better, think better and live with value,” she observes. “Since starting to work in mental health, I have become a better person, friend, sister, employee and a better mom.”

Joyce says triage is the first step when people arrive at the BHUC to identify the reason they are seeking mental health support. “Don’t we all feel validated when someone listens to us and cares? Sometimes this may mean their triage may take a little longer because I need to listen, and they need to be heard,” she says.

Lessons are learned from teammates as well as patients, Joyce says: “I love the part of my day where our team shares insights and things I never thought about or even knew about!”

Lauren Sexton, RN, Nash Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic, Rocky Mount

Monarch Nurse Lauren Sexton

Lauren started with Monarch in 2023 and is part of the clinical team working on making the Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program up and running at the Nash Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic. MAT is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, which can be an effective treatment of opioid use disorders in sustaining recovery.

Serving in nursing’s psychiatric sector, Lauren says she has seen changes in treatment plans, medications and communication tools. “The psychiatric world is ever evolving,” she says and what also makes the field rewarding and innovative at the same time.

Caring for others as a nurse has taught Lauren a variety of things about mental health. “I have learned throughout my career to be more patient, to listen, to always be aware of my surroundings and to give this population, who others may disregard, a fair shot. I have learned how to help others navigate the mental health system,” she points out.

Nursing is about providing care but also to be someone the person served can lean on for support. “I have learned to always walk beside our patients to help them reach their goals, walk in front to guide or step behind to push them forward if they need a little extra help,” she explains.

Ann Brady, RN, Guilford Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic, Greensboro

Monarch Nurse Ann Brady

Ann has been a psychiatric nurse since 1985 and has enjoyed the field so much she has never worked in any other area. She started with Monarch in 2012 working at Guilford Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic.

As a young girl, Ann became interested in nursing. “I knew that what nurses do is important, and I knew I would be capable to help patients, families, and colleagues to affect change in people’s lives for the better,” she says.

She primarily meets with people served through telehealth working remotely and experiencing firsthand the effectiveness virtual care provides for people needing mental health resources. “I spend my day talking with people, families, and providers to help coordinate treatment and make sure that their needs are met. As a team, we try to give the patients every opportunity to be at their highest level of functioning,” Ann explains of her clinical role.

Even after years as a nurse, Ann says she is learning in the field and from the people Monarch serves. “They motivate me to want to learn more and find out things that will help in their treatment. That research and reading will always help me to help them and that when I learn, it changes treatment in positive ways. I start each day knowing that there is always room for me to improve,” she says, adding that she builds trust with patients through honesty and consistency.

Being a nurse “means everything to me,” says Ann. “It is so important to feel like I have made a difference in people’s lives and that I have helped those people who are severely, mentally ill live their best possible life,” she adds.

Chad Lyles, RN, Guilford Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACTT), Greensboro

Monarch Nurse Chad Lyles

Chad describes coming up on a 10-year Monarch anniversary as good fortune and that he is grateful for the opportunities to work in a variety of roles and programs during his career at Monarch.

As part of the Guilford ACTT, “I am working directly in the community to provide care . . . To me, the number one thing that defines a nurse is ‘care.’ I demonstrate care by treating the people we support with dignity and respect, by actively listening, by making sure that we consider what the client wants, and by maintaining fidelity to our care standards,” he says.

Even with years of experience, nurses need to be open to new approaches to care that are happening in the medical and mental health field. “Flexibility to new approaches and models is a must. One of my personal favorite things about nurses is that we absolutely utilize evidence-based practices that are proven to work,” he shares. Evidence-based practice means applying or translating research findings in patient care practices and clinical decision-making.

With consistent advancements in mental health care and treatment, Chad says now is an exciting time to work in the mental health field. “Many new medications and programs are being tested, studied and developed. There will be innovations for years to come. If you are looking for a career that is both challenging and rewarding, behavioral health nursing is the way to go,” he says.

For information about nursing positions open at Monarch across North Carolina LTSS and behavioral health locations, please visit here.

Posted on: Thursday May 4, 2023