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Leading Care: Michelle Turner and Nursing Management

In this interview, Michelle Turner '15 BSN, RN, CNOR reflects on her leadership in advancing nursing through a management position in the practice setting.

She is Ambulatory Surgery Clinical Nurse Manager at the New York Presbyterian Hospital/David H. Koch Center in New York City.

How did you rise to this leadership position?  I began working at NYP/Cornell in the operating room after graduation in 2015.  After about 6 months, I began to take shifts as charge nurse and simultaneously received training to be a “covering” clinical manager.   I firmly believe in never saying “no” to an opportunity, so when a clinical manager position became available, I applied and was offered the job.  After about a year, I was appointed to the position of clinical manager & project lead for the planning, design and startup of a new ambulatory surgery center.  Upon it’s opening in April 2018, I was appointed clinical manager.

Who influenced you?   I have developed many important relationships during my time at New York Presbyterian as well as maintained those I established at Villanova.  I can point to two people who have played key roles in my development.  One is my current director and the other is someone from outside the hospital who I consider a mentor.

Why is it important to you? Why are you enthusiastic about your work in this role?    My current role gives me a unique perspective.  I spend most of my time on the unit, being hands on and working directly with the front-line staff.  However, I also have the opportunity to work closely with senior leadership.  I bring the day-to-day perspective to important conversations amongst hospital leadership.

What are the issues you deal with and what’s the biggest challenge in your area?    Working on a unit that opened less than a year ago presents many opportunities.  Our biggest one has been our objective to standardize supplies, surgical instrumentation and processes to promote efficiency.

How are you effective in your role? What’s critical to your success in the role?    I am most successful in my role when I listen to front line staff.  As a manager, it is important to admit when you don’t know something.  I am lucky to work with incredibly experienced and engaged staff nurses and I encourage them to share their thoughts and ideas on how to improve things.

How does innovation fit into your role as leader?     As a leader I get the privilege of being involved in many improvement processes.  Part of this involves implementing the newest and best technology in the operating room.  In ophthalmology specifically, we have state of the art lasers and equipment which helps provide better patient outcomes after cataract surgery.  I played a key role in the training and onboarding process for nurses and physicians, and we are one of the only facilities in the country to use this type of technology.

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently on your rise to this position or while in it?   I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the planning for my current unit before it opened.  If I were to go through this process again, I would advocate for a “soft open” instead of trying to go “full force” from day one.  Starting smaller and working our way towards full capacity would have given us more opportunity to debrief and alter workflows as needed in order to improve efficiencies and patient experience.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to be a leader in their area of interest?    Take any opportunity to step into leadership roles.  If there is no clear “opportunity”, create one yourself.  Consider joining a committee (such as unit council) or asking to be trained as a charge nurse.

What is your leadership philosophy?    My leadership philosophy is to always expect the unexpected.  It is important to be flexible and to be able to adapt to change.

What’s your hope for our profession?    I hope to see more nurses embracing leadership roles in hospital settings and beyond.  Nurses have a unique style of thinking that can be applied to almost any situation.