Northwest Organization of Nurse Leaders News

October 2021 Leader Highlight

October 2021 Leader Highlight

AnneMarie West, MBA, BSN, RN, NE-BC
 
In celebrating the accomplishments and recognizing the journey of our Leaders, we would like to introduce AnneMarie West MBA, BSN, RN, NE-BC Director of Professional Practice Providence Portland Medical Center. AnneMarie is a longstanding and distinguished Nursing Leader, a highly active member of NWONL, an Advancing Leader Award finalist and our November Leader Highlight. We interview AnneMarie this month to not only highlight her accomplishments but gain her perspective on current challenges and emerging opportunities.
 






[Cindi]: Welcome AnneMarie, you are our October Leader Highlight! Thank you for your dedication to our Profession. We look forward to hearing more about your journey, so let's jump right in. Tell us about your career, how you started in nursing, leadership and where you are today?
 
[AnneMarie]: “In nursing school, I was not sure what I wanted to do when I graduated. Luckily, I went to a hiring event dinner hosted by one of largest hospitals in Phoenix, AZ. I was placed at a table next to the Nurse Manager for their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). After dinner, we did a tour of the unit; I was captivated by those tiny babies needing intensive care. I ended up applying to the new graduate program for the NICU and got the job. Several years into my career, I took advantage of the 3-day work week to explore of other ways to grow as a nurse while supporting my community. A couple of my favorite jobs included working as a transport nurse for Native Air Ambulance and as a forensic nurse for Maricopa County performing sexual assault exams.
 
I started in leadership because a leader encouraged me to apply for a supervisor role. That supervisor position ignited my leadership journey. When I left my first organization, I had the tools I needed to manage my own unit and got a job at small community hospital as a NICU Nurse Manager. Within 2 years, I was promoted to interim Perinatal Director. At the end of 2012, my 17-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Because of her condition, living in an extremely hot environment was not conducive to her long-term health. Her neurologist encouraged us to move to the Pacific Northwest both for the milder climate, but also for advanced research this area is known for. Serendipitously while I was driving home from the hospital, a LinkedIn recruiter cold called me. She told me that Providence’s PPMC was in search of a dynamic leader to open a brand new NICU, it felt meant to be. I applied and was hired. In 2014, I helped open the PPMC Level 3 NICU and supported the advancement of the high-risk OB service expansion. The NICU physicians and the regional program empowered the NICU team to lead research and quality improvement projects. Our innovative quality improvement projects lead to my team presenting at an international Neonatal conference called The Vermont Oxford Neonatal Quality Consortium. We were asked to return the following year. In 2019, I started to re-evaluate what I wanted to do in nursing. I recognized I loved teaching, mentoring, research and supporting nursing practice. It was time I started to look for my next opportunity which ended up being my current role.  I have been in my current role as Director or Professional Nursing Practice since January 2020.”
 
[Cindi] What have been some of the salient challenges in your career to date? Personal, professional, other?
 
[AnneMarie] “I have always been driven and constantly accomplished what I set my sights on. Pre-covid, I was on track to complete my PhD. I was well past my second year of classes. The challenges I faced both professionally and personally were balancing the demands of the job, my family, my health, and school. With everything that covid brought our way, I was feeling overwhelming anxiety and stress. After talking with my family, I had to make a tough decision to drop out of my program. Initially, I felt like a failure, but then a wise a colleague reminded me that making this choice truly modeled strength.”
 
[Cindi] What is your take on the current state of nursing and nursing leadership? I am worried about the impact on prolonged stress on our nurses and nurse leaders.
 
[AnneMarie] “I am worried about our current workforce. They are tired and exhausted. I believe as nursing leaders we need to strive to create connections by being open to listening and witnessing our nurse’s experiences. I think if we create space for   understanding their trauma, what they have been through both personally and professionally; we can strive to help our nurses feel connected, supported, and re-energized about this profession.”
 
[Cindi] In in the complex world of healthcare, from a nursing and nursing leadership perspective, from your role, what should we be discussing/acting challenge that (may) not be getting the attention and traction it warrants?
 
[AnneMarie] “Our nursing workforce is changing at a faster pace than we realized. Ignited by the pandemic, we are facing an impending workforce crisis. We are losing our most experienced nurses at a record pace and once again this industry is struggling to fill positions. Ultimately, we need to find ways to ensure we stabilize the experience of our workforce.”
 
[Cindi] Given the above, what are the opportunities on the horizon that we should be positioning for now?
 
[AnneMarie] “As our knowledgeable nurses are leaving, our most viable recruiting pipeline for nursing will be the new graduate market. For the near future, these new graduates will have hybrid clinical experiences. For these nurses, virtual on-boarding will not be adequate. Therefore, we need to rethink our training, hiring, and recruiting.”
 
[Cindi] To close, two questions. First, if you could do it again, what might you do differently and what advice would you give to nurses or nursing leaders starting their journey?
 
[AnneMarie] “If I could talk to my younger self as a nurse, I would tell her you will continue to grow and evolve for many years to come. I am glad I gave myself the opportunities to try different specialties because every job gave me valuable tools and perspective. Building on that, I would tell a young nurse do not limit yourself, the nursing field is vast, and you can experience more then one specialty in your career.”
 
[Cindi] Second, is there a person that was overtly influential in your career? Someone that was a cornerstone, mentor or guide that directly facilitated your advancement (positively) that you would like to recognize?
 
[AnneMarie] “I feel blessed, as I have had several mentors along the way.  My first mentor, Bev Dalton MSN, BSN, RN, is now retired. She was that leader who saw some raw talent in me and encouraged me to apply for my first leadership role. It's hard as leaders to find someone invested in your growth. As a young nurse, I need guidance on working on my communication. Bev told me I could do it.  Bev also gave me some of the hardest feedback I have gotten in my career. That feedback shaped and helped me evolve into the leader I have become today.  Because of Bev, I do want to pay it forward to help others to grow, by being a mentor.  I hope positively to support other young leaders can maybe help shape their careers.”
 
[Cindi] Thank you AnneMarie! it is an honor to have your as our October Leader Highlight, you are a true asset to our Profession.
 
~fin