By Steve Lewis
ORLANDO, FL — Lisa Lang, who recently received the 2013 Secretary of Veterans Affairs’ Award for Excellence in Nursing, clearly believes her career is “all in the family.”
“My mother was a nurse,” Lang recalls. “I was the youngest of 10 children; I admired her hard work when I was young and she always inspired me to be a nurse and care for people like she did. I felt very fortunate to follow in those footsteps.”
That family connection extends even farther for Lang. “One of the things I noticed in working for VA is the family experience,” she notes. “Our veterans are a special group of people; they give you a family unit feeling. Coming to work here is really a joy because you have more personal experiences with your patients. It is truly an honor to work with them on a daily basis and be able to help them.”
Lang, who has been an LPN for 28 years, is going on her 14th year working with VA at the Orlando VAMC. “I initially worked in primary care, then progressed to the cardiology department, and then transferred over to the Viera outpatient facility and specialized in pulmonary and cardiology,” she recounts.
She had been working at a civilian facility in 1999, when a number of the physicians brought her over with them when they transferred to VA. “They thought I’d be a good match,” she says.
Obviously they were right. “There is nothing better than to be proud to be an American and feel that on a daily basis,” says Lang, adding that this brings an additional element to her mission as a nurse.
What does she find most rewarding about caring for veterans? “It’s an inner feeling, as if you are truly are making a difference when you see the special care not only I myself provide but also the physicians and other nurses and managers,” says Lang. “When we have meetings they really do talk about taking care of our veterans — making them No. 1. It’s not about us — it’s about them. They give us classes so we can become the best we can be to take care of the veterans because we know they deserve it.”
Earning the Award
The award, Lang notes, addresses specific categories such as excellence in service, in care, and advancement. She was cited by her manager Dawn Mossing, the Specialty Care Nurse Manager at the Viera Outpatient Clinic, for delivering personalized care and enabling other nurses to do the same.
Mossing also noted that Lang follows more than 1,300 patients in the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) program and developed a technical spreadsheet that allowed staff to track and extract data specific to each veteran to better determine and meet their needs for obstructive sleep apnea care.
“I work in a unique situation with patients in sleep apnea, using the CPAP machine,” Lang explains. “It is the very personalized one-on-one care we give our veterans that makes a difference to them, and improves patient care. I can and will adapt to patients if they are in need of something, and I’ve gotten feedback from patients that they appreciate this.”
Patients also receive “real-time” feedback from her, she continues. “We are trained to read results and share them with patients.”
Lang also gives presentations on CPAP for other healthcare providers. “We want to further everyone’s education, so we are all aware that this is a real thing patients do have; what it is the patient may be experiencing; and dealing with,” she notes.” I also get to educate other nurses in terms of cardiac care, such as performing accurate EKGs and sharing the knowledge I have. It helps us all work as a better team.”
Lang says she is most proud of the continuity of care she provides her patients. “That means following through with what a patient expects and what a patient needs,” she explains. “I like to say I do that with every patient; I really feel pride in knowing I truly am doing the best that I can — making sure the patient gets what they need taken care of and then relaying back to me that they are satisfied.”
Recently, a patient sent Lang a note, saying she was especially thorough in her work with a Holter monitor and was also very pleasant. “That makes me feel like I’m doing the right things — and that’s important to me,” she says.