From the Lab Bench to the Bedside – Becoming a Nurse at UPMC St. Margaret

Senior Professional Staff Nurse Emily Wickline, PhD, BSN, RN shared her perspective below on what her experience at UPMC St. Margaret means to her.

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BY EMILY WICKLINE

My path to UPMC St. Margaret is not a traditional one, but like Mary Barkhymer, chief nursing officer at UPMC St. Margaret, said, I know that it’s “the exact place I’m supposed to be.” Nursing is my second calling in life — but hopefully I’ll look back at it all as one career.

Following a Call

Before becoming a nurse, I was a PhD research scientist at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2013, I defended my PhD at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Cellular & Molecular Pathology, and later that year, I did my postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in the Cell Biology Department. In 2015, I felt called to make a change.

My years at the lab bench were spent hoping my work would one day make an impact on patients. As I thought about my own future, I realized I wanted to make an impact sooner. It was that line of thought that inspired me to get my nursing degree at the University of Pittsburgh in its second-degree BSN program. Both of my sisters-in-law were registered nurses at UPMC, and through our family interactions I also saw how a nursing career offered an enjoyable work-life balance for me and my family. The rest is history!

Finding My Place

My position as a senior professional staff nurse II, BSN, here at UPMC St. Margaret is my first nursing job. I started as a staff nurse, and have worked my way up the My Nursing Career ladder at the same position. I always wanted to be a nurse in a community hospital setting where I could work directly with the primary care doctors to facilitate care for their patients. I also really enjoyed my nursing school rotations at teaching hospitals, where I had the opportunity to work with resident doctors.

My job on the 6B Medical Cardiology Unit at UPMC St. Margaret allows me to do all of that — plus UPMC St. Margaret is a Magnet® designated facility, which really sealed the deal for me when I thought of the perfect environment to start my nursing career!

Fueling My Goals

In addition to the satisfying work and meaningful connections, I also really appreciate all the opportunities I have at UPMC St. Margaret to grow as a staff nurse and beyond.

If my many degrees didn’t clue you in, I am a person who loves to learn! In 2017, I started a casual role as a nurse educator in the Nursing Education Department. This opportunity allows me to teach and share my research knowledge in order to make meaningful impacts on new and seasoned nurses at UPMC St. Margaret.

On the other side of things, I also am continuing to get to develop my skills and goals as well! I have been part of the Nursing Shared Governance Program from the beginning of my time at St. Margaret, using my research background to help guide others as a co-chair of the St. Margaret Nursing Research & EBP Council. With the guidance of nursing leadership, I have been able to steer my path at UPMC St. Margaret to incorporate my overall career goals.

Fostering Connection

My favorite thing about my role here at UPMC St. Margaret is the personal connections I make with patients. We share similar interests, we work and play in the same community, and as nurses we can make a positive impact on our community with those relationships. We see these patients on their worst days — and I feel as though kindness can go a long way to help heal our patients and help make our community a better place to work and play in.

Since UPMC St. Margaret is a smaller, community-based hospital, we use a relationship-based care model where relationships are valued not only with the patients, but with the physicians and other co-workers as well. Teamwork is a priority on my unit, which helps lighten the work load for everyone. I’ve gotten to connect with the folks in my unit in such a way that I view my UPMC St. Margaret co-workers as a family! They are a very kind and truly caring group of people.

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As I think back on my career journey, and I can see how everything I’ve done has prepared me for what I’m doing today. There is so much opportunity for me and other nurses to shape the environment and practice here at UPMC St. Margaret and to make it a place where everyone would want to work. I found my place here, and I invite you to do the same.


With its Magnet® designation, commitment to the community, and tight-knit and team-oriented atmosphere, UPMC St. Margaret is one of the best places to be a nurse. Explore the other features below to get the inside scoop on a career at UPMC St. Margaret, and apply today.

Four Words to Describe UPMC St. Margaret: Straight from the CNO

EXPLORE CAREERS