Sharp HealthCare encourages its more than 6,000 clinical nurses to strive to ever-higher levels in their careers and to poise themselves to move into leadership roles. No one appreciates such opportunities as much as leaders who themselves started as front-line caregivers.
Reflecting on that goal, four members of Sharp's executive team — who began their own careers as nurses — share why they chose nursing and what they feel a leader can do to elevate other nurses to become leaders.
Susan Stone, BSN, PhD, senior vice president and CEO, Sharp Coronado Hospital
"My grandmother was my inspiration," says Stone. "She supported her family as a licensed vocational nurse and continued her career as a private duty nurse until the age of 82. Her example of serving others above self and her ability to provide for her family during difficult economic times inspired me to follow in her footsteps.
"At Sharp HealthCare, we have a rich history exemplifying nursing professional practice at its finest. Listening, learning and encouraging team members to pursue advancement in education or their careers is one of the most rewarding aspects of our organization. This, for me, made all the difference, and I have made it a priority to continue this legacy for others. This investment of time enriches my life beyond measure, and enriches the lives of those involved — helping them feel valued and cared for — and assists them in achieving their own dreams," she says.
Trisha Khaleghi, BSN, MSN, senior vice president and CEO, Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital and Sharp McDonald Center
"I chose nursing because I wanted a career that had both intellectual and caring components," says Khaleghi. "I wanted to have a positive impact on people's lives at their most vulnerable point, so I chose to go into oncology. That experience made me realize how moving into leadership would allow me to influence patient care more broadly by providing guidance to our staff.
"It is important to take the time to talk to our nurses about what leadership roles look like and the role they play in our organization. It is also important for leaders to create opportunities for professional growth so individuals can gain leadership skills, and learn and share with others throughout our organization," she says.
Pablo Velez, RN, PhD, senior vice president and CEO, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center
"I became a nurse because I had a calling to help the sick and was always interested in making people feel better. I wanted to make a difference," says Velez.
"We need to mentor new nurses, to share knowledge and expertise. Nurses are great leaders, with great communication skills, who coordinate and orchestrate care for patients. I also tell leaders that we need to continue to be relevant and leave things better than when they found them (continuous improvement process). And to never forget why they became a nurse in the first place."
Daniel L. Gross, RN, BSN, MSN, DNSc, executive vice president for Sharp HealthCare
"I grew up in a small rural town in Southeast Kansas so there were no economic resources for me to attend college," says Gross. "During my senior year of high school, I met the nurse anesthetist who worked at the local hospital. Since I always enjoyed academics, especially science, I felt it was perfect for me. Through scholarships, I was able to earn a four-year degree in nursing. My career choice is one of the best and rewarding decisions of my life.
"Leaders can support nurse advancement by being role models, educators, mentors and advocates," he says. "Most importantly, leaders need to give their time and treasure to support the growth of others. Sharing one's journey, challenges, learnings, insights and missteps are invaluable to others. Also, sharing the value of education, providing support for educational advancement, understanding the value of teamwork and collaboration, displaying mutual respect for all, and never forgetting the purpose of our work — caring and compassion for patients' health and well-being — will ensure success for future nursing leaders."