Connection with Elders Fosters Nursing Career

Priscilla Salgado started at St. Ann’s as an aide in the dining and nutrition department. She is now the organization’s associate director of nursing

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Back in 1998, Rochester resident Priscilla Salgado began working at St. Ann’s Community in Rochester as an aide in the dining and nutrition department. It was a good job for a recent high school graduate; however, a member of St. Ann’s education staff saw something more in the young adult and suggested she take CNA classes.

“I hadn’t given it much thought until she spoke with me about it,” Salgado said.

What Salgado failed to see in herself at that time was her ability to easily make connection with the residents — a trait that would prove helpful in providing excellent patient care.

By 2001, she earned her CNA certification with St. Ann’s help, at Monroe Community College. The longer she worked, the more she realized she wanted to “grow within [her] career.”

In 2004, she earned her LPN through the Educational Opportunity Center and in 2014, she earned a further nursing degree at Finger Lakes College of Nursing. In 2016, she earned her Bachelor’s of Nursing Science at Roberts Wesleyan.

“It continues to evolve,” Salgado said. “Nursing changes and I often crave to learn more so I cannot only be a better nurse for those I take care of but if I’m able to help others who want to pursue their nursing career and be an inspiration to others.”

Salgado is now St. Ann’s associate director of nursing. One of her biggest day-to-day challenges is coping with the widespread staffing challenges that affect the entire healthcare industry. Working with different work ethics among employees is another challenge she faces often, since employees come with their own backgrounds and previous employment experiences.

“I’m trying to meet the employees where they are and build trusting relationships,” Salgado said. “There’s a team of us that continues to work on recruitment and retention.”

St. Ann’s recruits from the area’s schools of nursing and also receives applicants through word-of-mouth from current employees.

“We look to see who’s interested and try to reach those individuals,” Salgado said.

Of course, retaining current employees also helps improve staffing. To encourage retention, she works on engaging with staff through good communication.

“We’re supporting them and trying to communicate with them as to their desires for their career and supporting that, whether being flexible with schedules or the educational scholarships and tuition reimbursement St. Ann’s offers,” Salgado said. “I talk about my career and journey at St. Ann.”

By telling others about how she worked her way up in the company—and in her nursing career—Salgado hopes she can inspire others to consider nursing as a good career option. Afterall, it’s one she has enjoyed for much of her working life.

She believes that any good nurse should have compassion, patience, empathy, adaptability and a good work ethic.

“I definitely encourage anyone interested in nursing to pursue it and let them know it’s a truly rewarding career,” she said. “It has ups and downs but we’re in need of dedicated nurses. They should not ever give up or allow anyone to persuade them that this isn’t the right opportunity for them.”

It certainly seems a good fit for Salgado.

“I really love connecting with our elders and building relationships with their families,” Salgado said. “If I can bring a smile to their faces and ensure quality care is being provided, I feel I’ve done a good job.”

She plans to pursue more training in geriatrics and, eventually, earn a nurse practitioner degree with a specialty in geriatrics.

In her spare time, Salgado enjoys time with her family and traveling when she can.

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