Theresa Brock graduated in our first MSN cohort in 2007, previously worked at Genesis in DeWitt, and relocated to Oregon three years ago. Theresa's title is Vice-President of Nursing for Good Shepherd Health Care System. Her responsibilities encompass not only Nursing, but also the Respiratory Therapy and Nutritional Services Departments, as well as accreditation for the entire hospital. She was initially responsible for Quality Control in her organization, but recently transitioned that over to someone else. It is a regional critical access hospital with 25 inpatient beds. This system also includes a home health component as well as a hospice and a medical group. She is also a member of the community Mental Health Facility Task Force and the Acute Care Council.
She and her husband desired to move to a more stable climate, yet with "the same type of culture of people in Iowa" once they became "empty nesters." Their area of Oregon (180 miles east of Portland) is high desert, receiving only 11 inches of precipitation and 345 days of sunshine per year. However, it is a large agricultural area, depending on irrigation even for personal lawns. The Brocks now boast seven grandchildren, with one more on the way, and all their children have either moved or are in the process of moving permanently to their attractive new area.
Promoting professional development in the nursing arena is a priority for Theresa, and she has demonstrated that by personally attaining national certification in Case Management and in Quality Control since obtaining her MSN. She has taught 21 Healthcare Administration classes in two years for the University of Phoenix, and hopes to begin studies for her own doctorate in Healthcare Administration this fall. She feels she has gained different beneficial perspectives from each class she has attended throughout the years.
The most important lesson that can enhance nurses' skills in their primary role, Theresa believes, is to understand how all the facets related to nursing impact patients and their outcomes. These "big picture" items include: clinical models, philosophy, evidence-based best-practice, policy, nursing process, quality control, legalities, patient safety, and business finance. Nurses now have increased accountability and responsibility to work together and communicate as a team member with all other healthcare professionals to provide optimal patient care. Ongoing education empowers personal decision-making utilizing these team dynamics. Besides opening many doors, she feels earning an MSN degree allows one to attain many different careers, such as Quality Control, Case Management, or Consulting.
The MSN program helped her understand this "big picture" more than her actual scope of practice, Theresa said. It also taught her to comprehend human behavior more concretely, to enable her to lead and guide people, and to make time for them. Through development of performance evaluations, communication and teamwork Theresa learned different ways of dealing with people in order to implement change. She utilizes this information in part to counsel her employees regarding continuing their own education.
The week she was interviewed for this newsletter, Theresa remarked that she just recently had an opportunity to refer to the Iowa Model for Evidence-Based Practice learned at St. Ambrose. Other skills learned in Research Utilization class have become a regular part of her practice, such as using literature searches to develop her PowerPoint presentations. Learning never stops, she asserts: keeping up with technology requirements, health care reform, policy-making, research, etc., is essential to every nurse!