UPMC St. Margaret Chief Nursing Officer Mary Barkhymer shared the story of how she ended up at UPMC St. Margaret and the very personal reason why she is so passionate about the community she serves. Her thoughts below:
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BY MARY BARKHYMER
When I’m sharing with someone a little bit about my career and the people I work with, these are the words that come to mind. As chief nursing officer at UPMC St. Margaret, I have a front row seat to seeing the legacy of UPMC carried out in the lives and work of the nurses I lead and of the staff I am part of. A lot has changed since I began my career 31 years ago as a staff nurse, but the same dedication to excellence, community, opportunity, and compassion has remained constant year after year, patient after patient.
Excellence may be one of UPMC’s values, but at UPMC St. Margaret, it’s the standard. Excellence is not optional; it is how we work.
While UPMC St. Margaret is a smaller hospital in the UPMC network with 250 beds, the innovative and life-changing work we do means just as much to our patients as the bigger hospitals in Pittsburgh. We serve patients in Pittsburgh as well as people from all over the country who come to UPMC St. Margaret for our top-notch care.
As a Magnet® designated facility, UPMC St. Margaret is part of an elite class of hospitals that have been certified as “the best of the best.” I take pride in our Magnet® status because it means that this is a place where nurses can become the best care providers they can be in their profession. At UPMC St. Margaret, our nurses practice autonomously under a shared governance program, and our nursing councils keep us focused on the mission at hand in innovative and exciting ways.
There are only 460 hospitals nationally and internationally that have achieved Magnet® designation, and we are one of them. Our patients and our employees can be confident that UPMC St. Margaret is committed to excellence.
Community is the heartbeat of our hospital. At UPMC St. Margaret, this is clear from the moment you walk in the door. Everyone here is very friendly, and since we’re a smaller hospital, it’s easier to get to know the team. I love the opportunities I have as CNO to get to know my nurses by name and hear about their lives, families, hopes and dreams.
The community-centered care we practice in the hospital also extends outside our doors. Our Professional Practice and Development Council, which is chaired by nurses at various levels and departments, really embodies this care for the community in the work it does. Each month, nurses from this council go out and take people’s blood pressures at senior community events, speak about requested topics at senior living and community centers, and administer care to some of Pittsburgh’s lower income residents and homeless individuals. I am so proud of all the work they do, and how they are determined to make this community — inside and outside of the hospital — a better place.
Opportunity has been the theme of my career at UPMC, so I strongly believe it can be the theme of anyone else’s too. When I began my career 31 years ago, I was a staff nurse in the operating room at what would become UPMC Shadyside. In my years in the OR, I took full advantage of all the opportunities a career at UPMC allows. I took leadership development training courses and tuition reimbursement to get my bachelor’s degree.
I left UPMC Shadyside in 2003 to become a unit director at UPMC St. Margaret where I oversaw multiple departments in surgical services. Seven years ago, I stepped into my current role of chief nursing officer. Since becoming CNO, I got to be part of UPMC St. Margaret’s second designation as a Magnet® status hospital, and I’m currently in the process of submitting our facility again to be considered this summer.
As CNO, I can attest to UPMC St. Margaret’s commitment to affording our employees as many opportunities as we can for them to become the best nurses they can be. Our nurses are provided ongoing opportunities for professional nursing certification and advanced continuing education. We are always investing in technology and research to provide the most cutting-edge care, and we are home to some of the best orthopaedic care centers in the nation.
Finally, compassion is a quality I look for in any nurses interested in joining the UPMC St. Margaret team. To provide the best possible care to our patients, nurses have to be empathetic, ready to listen and learn, and always willing to go the extra mile to ensure positive patient outcomes. While compassion is something I seek in all our nurses here at UPMC St. Margaret, it’s also something I’ve experienced firsthand during my years here as CNO.
I am a breast cancer survivor.
In 2013, I had chemotherapy and radiation, and I found myself walking down the halls of UPMC St. Margaret with a wig on. It was amazing to see and experience how kind people were and how that made me feel. During my treatment, I remember telling my husband, “I love coming here and working because of how good everyone is to me. They support me.” As the chief nursing officer at UPMC St. Margaret I expect compassion from my nurses, and as a patient at UPMC St. Margaret, I received that compassion firsthand.
Working at UPMC, you are part of a network of excellent treatment facilities, but more than that, you are part of a family. The people at UPMC St. Margaret helped me on my journey through cancer, and I will be forever grateful for the kindness and care they extended to me. They are the real deal.
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The excellence, community, opportunity, and compassion I’ve experienced at UPMC St. Margaret is what keeps me coming back day after day, year after year, patient after patient. I love what I do as CNO at UPMC St. Margaret, but it is work. Every day when we walk through the hospital doors, someone entrusts us with the lives of their family or friends. It’s hard, it’s tiring, and it’s complicated.
But every time I leave the hospital, I leave a better nurse than the nurse I was when I started my day. Every single time, I leave knowing more than I knew at the beginning of the day. Every single time, I leave knowing I’ll be back for more, knowing that this is absolutely, without a doubt, the exact place I’m supposed to be.
Are you where you’re supposed to be? Find your place as a nurse at UPMC St. Margaret with a team committed to excellence, community, opportunity, and compassion. Explore the other features below to get the inside scoop on a career at UPMC St. Margaret and apply today!