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Sharp Health News

The changing role of nurses

May 6, 2016

The changing role of nurses

Colleen Murphy began her career at Cabrillo Medical Center in 1979. She’s been part of the Sharp family since then, and today serves as manager of administrative support services at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Imagine a time when nurses were assigned to a different unit each day, depending on where they were needed. Hospital orientation consisted of reading a manual, and “training” meant shadowing a nurse mentor for a week. It was possible to graduate from nursing school and be asked to start working the same day. In fact, that’s how Colleen Murphy began her career in 1979 at Cabrillo Medical Center, which would soon become Sharp HealthCare’s first acquisition during its journey toward becoming a health system.

Murphy, now manager of administrative support services at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, has held a number of positions across the organization since she started her first job at Cabrillo. On that first Christmas Eve, she was assigned to the intensive care unit (ICU), the busiest unit of the hospital. She enjoyed the ICU so much, she says, that she stayed for the next 15 years.

Volunteering to work as a float nurse and weekend supervisor gave Colleen an inside look at how a hospital functions. Working at multiple Sharp entities provided a greater understanding of the unique culture that exists at each.

The role of nurses has greatly expanded over the years, and today they are more specialized than ever. Their jobs continuously evolve as technology advances. In 1979, patient charts were handwritten on paper. Today electronic medical records replace paper charts, and wireless technology saves vital signs and other diagnostic readings directly into patient records.

At Sharp Grossmont, nurses are helping to launch patient experience to new heights in the hospital’s Innovations Unit. In this unique environment, a mock hospital room allows caregivers to experience care from the eyes of a patient. Unit staff members are encouraged to share and pilot new ideas and, if successful, move them into production hospital-wide.

Murphy has settled in at Grossmont, spending the last 21 years watching the La Mesa hospital expand and become one of San Diego County’s busiest. “Sharp Grossmont is the most exciting place I have ever worked,” she says. “While the hospital has grown significantly over the years, it has remained a very close-knit community. It feels like a family, and everyone truly cares about the work they’re doing.”

When it comes to her own family, Sharp also plays a role; Murphy gave birth to all three of her children at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, and now two of them work for Sharp. While neither chose their mother’s career path, Colleen is excited that they each found a way to join the organization where she has spent many wonderful years — the organization that has, in a way, become her past, her present and her family’s future.

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