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Enterprising Florida nurse earning high marks with RNReport Card


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Marsha-Gaye Elson-Joseph, BSN, knew her nursing career could take her anywhere. Different facilities. Different units. Different states. The former TV news writer entered the industry because "there are a million different things you can do in nursing."

But she never expected her career would take her to a Kinko's Copy Center.

After a particularly frustrating day at her job as a per diem nurse at Jackson South Community Hospital in Miami last November, Elson-Joseph came home and contemplated a way to improve communication with her colleagues. With help from her husband, an IT specialist at a nearby hotel, she created a Microsoft Word document she started using to capture patient information. She went to Kinko's, made some copies, had it bound, and was somewhat surprised by the positive result.

"It didn't look too bad," she says. "I got lots of support from my family [including her sister Lisa, a recent graduate of Miami Dade College School of Nursing] and we thought, 'Hey, maybe we can start a business.'"

A couple of months later, the RNReport Card, a lightweight 5 x 7 inch booklet aimed at standardizing the note taking and shift reporting process for nurses, has sold out of its first edition in just three weeks through the company's Web site.

From oncology to organization

Elson-Joseph's nursing journey started at the University of Miami. After spinning her wheels as a TV news writer, she went searching for a new career. "My dad is a nurse and my aunts are nurses," she said. "I figured I'd try nursing and see what it has to offer."

After a year in the accelerated program for students who already had bachelor's degrees, Elson-Joseph landed in oncology. "I loved the people I worked with and it was a good experience, but you have to watch a lot of people die," she says. "People keep coming back over and over and you get to know them. It can wear on you."

But Elson-Joseph was organized. She had a report sheet used to keep track of the information involved with cancer treatments. "There are certain things you make note of that wouldn't be important in other [nursing] areas," Elson Joseph says.

When she moved over from the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center to the telemetry medical surgical floor at Jackson, she didn't have a report sheet. Physicians would call and ask for lab results and she wouldn't have what they needed right away. "It wasn't that the work was difficult, but I just couldn't get a handle on all the different information," she says. "I couldn't work like that. I needed a way to keep all the information on me in one place."

The RNReport Card was her answer.

"It helps you to stay organized," she says. "It's one way to have everything in a compact format so you aren't running around like a chicken with your head cut off."

The booklet, which fits into a scrub pocket [Elson-Joseph tested the size with a 5 x 7 postcard before the first trip to Kinko's], helps you keep track of patient names, rooms, procedures, assessments, consults, medication times, drips, IV fluids, and several other pieces of crucial information. The goal of the product is to manage patient information at a moment's notice and bridge the communication gap among physicians and other nurses.

As for the future, Elson-Joseph says they are in the process of creating unit-specific models. For now, they are happy with the progress.

"At first, we would get two orders a day and we were like, 'Yes, two orders!'" she says. "Then we were like, 'Where are all these coming from?' We have a cluster in Illinois and we don't know why. Even some in Canada. Nurses all over have the same common problem."

Elson-Joseph says the RNReport Card is good for both students and practicing nurses. And it's useful even in facilities that use computerized systems because "you don't always have a computer in front of you," she adds.

"We aren't trying to replace the way nurses do things," she says. "It's just an additional tool. We just want nurses to be better at what they do."

Editor's note: For more information, visit the RNReport Card Web site.