VA Nurse Executive David E. Murray is a nurse leader at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin
For more than 28 years, David E. Murray, MSN, RN, APN, NE-BC, has worked at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), most recently as Associate Director Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, a position he’s held for three years. Murray, a retired lieutenant colonel, is a combat Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Murray provides nurse leadership in collaboration with other disciplines to improve Veterans’ care at the Wisconsin hospital. In this installment of our #ChooseVALeadership Careers and as VA prepares to attend the American Organization of Nurse Executives annual meeting in April (find us at booth 132), Murray explains his role as nurse leader and why he chose a VA career.
What is your primary job at VA?
I provide executive leadership and complex managerial and administrative tasks that impact critical healthcare issues and the activities that influence the organizational mission, healthcare and policy. My leadership has helped develop a professional practice environment that fosters excellence in nursing services, evidence-based practice, staff recruitment and retention, nursing research and scholarly inquiry, and customer satisfaction.
Describe your specialties and how you apply these skills in the care you provide to Veterans.
As a Nurse Executive, I help guide policy, mentor my Service Chiefs and Managers, and work with the executive team to make the Madison VA the best place to work and the best place for Veterans to receive care.
What was appealing about a career at VA?
I was already serving in the Wisconsin Army National Guard as a medic and a career as a nurse caring for Veterans seemed like a logical fit. Before I finished nursing school, I had a final clinical at the Madison VA and was hired before I had graduated.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
That becomes a twofold answer. I am honored to lead a Nursing Service that provides exemplary care to our Veterans, which is clear from the positive comments we receive in the Director’s office and from the Veterans we meet when we do unit rounding. The other rewarding part is watching our nursing staff grow from novice to expert and embrace shared decision making as they become part of our facility-based nursing practice council.
How has VA helped you grow in your career?
I’ve received numerous opportunities to grow throughout my career with VA, including preceptor (instructor) opportunities as a new graduate, leadership courses at the local level and Veterans Integrated Service Network-wide leadership training. As I delved into my new role as Nurse Executive, the VA Office of Nursing Services paired me with a mentor from a similarly sized facility and established monthly mentoring calls. Within the first year, I received the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) New Executive Training (NExT) orientation with peers from across VA. VA’s annual Nurse Executive Conference is partnered with the annual Chief of Staff Conference, where we receive timely information from subject matter experts from VHA and VA Central Office. (Learn more about leadership opportunities for VA nurses in the brochure PDF.)
What are a few key benefits of working at VA?
Working for VA provides a plethora of benefits that only increase in value as the years go by. Nursing receives up to five weeks of annual leave starting on day one, along with 13 sick days and 10 federal holidays. You can also participate in the Thrift Savings Plan — the government’s 401(k) — where VA will match up to the first 5 percent of contributions. This is paired with a pension plan that, once vested in five years, will help you plan for retirement. VA nursing careers also have unique ladders for promotions and salary increases not often seen in other healthcare organizations.
What do you find most surprising about working at VA?
In my current role I often spend some upfront time with the new nursing hires. Although many admit they worried about coming to work for VA, once they started orientation, spent time with the Veterans and truly understood our mission, they fell in love with their new role.
What story do you most often tell people about your work?
Since 2004, we have been a Magnet facility, which is an American Nurses Credentialing Center designation indicating that our facility is committed to excellence in healthcare and support for our nurses. Even as we work on our second redesignation, our work is never done, and we do not claim to be a perfect facility. We always seek ways to support VA nurses as they lead evidence-based practice projects and make improvements that lead to great Veteran and staff experiences.
What would you tell other nurse leaders interested in choosing a career at VA?
The mission of VA is noble and, once you start working with Veterans, this is a career that becomes endearing. Veterans are so thankful for the care they receive, and they partner with you to improve their overall healthcare experience.
What else would you like us to know about your work?
The opportunities are endless for nurses coming to VA — I have had six distinctly different roles throughout my career at the Madison VA, each with its own unique challenges and rewards. I tell staff to always be prepared for whatever the next opportunity may be. Even if they are not thinking of changing roles, I still encourage VA nurses to take the courses, get the next level of education and be prepared for opportunities as they arise.
This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.
Linsey Steege, PhD, a professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) School of Nursing, has announced a new study on nurse stress and fatigue, which will ultimately improve nurses’ health. Steege will use Fitbits to track the activities of selected nurses throughout the day, gathering data on their steps, heart rate, and sleep to identify factors that cause fatigue and stress in this vital care provider population.
Steege tells mhealthintelligence.com, “I became interested in focusing on how to improve how we support nurses so that they in turn can be safe and provide the highest quality patient care. But when I looked around, there was a lot of research on physical fatigue and sleep deprivation for medical residents, but much less on how nursing work is contributing to fatigue and how fatigue is contributing to stress, burnout, and worst of all, medical error.”
Data can positively impact how we care for ourselves and Steege wants to use data to help nurses understand what contributes to their fatigue. She also wants to collect data on the nurse’s work environment, including noise levels, pages and calls, time spent navigating the hospital’s electronic health record platform, nurse movement patterns, shift staffing reports, and more.
Steege has found that hospitals tend to focus on patient safety while not considering nurse safety and wellbeing at the same time. If health systems don’t account for the burden of fatigue on their nurses, medical errors, turnover, and costs increase. Hospitals have used data to improve workflow in the past, but now they can also look at individual health data and look for specific triggers that cause provider fatigue and stress.
To learn more about new research from Linsey Steege, a nursing professor at UW-Madison who is using Fitbit data to identify factors that cause nurse fatigue and stress, visit here.
Dr. Barbara J. Bowers, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate dean for research and sponsored programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing, has been selected by the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing for induction to the Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame in recognition of her contributions to nursing science.
The International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame was created in 2010 to recognize nurse researchers who have achieved significant recognition and whose research has improved the profession and the people it serves. Bowers is one of 20 individuals from around the world to be inducted into the Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame this year. Those selected will be formally inducted at the Sigma International Nursing Research Congress in Melbourne, Australia, this July.
Bowers is known internationally for her contributions to the science and practice of nursing in the care of older adults, especially those in long-term care or residential settings. Her research career spans three decades, making Bowers renowned for her influence on gerontological science, healthcare policy, and research methodology. Bowers also founded and now directs the Center for Aging Research and Education which is housed in the School of Nursing and helps put aging research into action in communities throughout Wisconsin and beyond.
Nursing School Dean Dr. Linda D. Scott tells News.Wisc.edu, “Dr. Bowers has made a significant impact on the science of nursing, the study of gerontology, and the UW-Madison School of Nursing. Her vast body of work reflects her lifelong commitment to improving the lives of older adults and their caregivers, and she has inspired countless others to focus their careers not only on addressing the needs of the aging but also on changing the way society perceives older adults and the people who support them.”
To learn more about Bowers and her influential career in nursing research, visit here.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) School of Nursing recently received a $1.3 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to develop a program to recruit and retain 30 Native American nursing school students.
The project is called “Success Through Recruitment/Retention, Engagement, and Mentorship (STREAM) for American Indian Students Pursuing Nursing Careers” in alignment with a Wisconsin Center for Nursing goal to expand the diversity of the nursing workforce to mirror the diversity of the population they serve.
Native American students are among the most under-represented on the UW-Madison campus, including the nursing program. According to Nursing.Wisc.edu, the Wisconsin nursing workforce is 94 percent white, but the Wisconsin population is only 79 percent white. In addition, 90 percent of nurses who provide services in Wisconsin tribal health facilities are white while a majority of patients are American Indian.
Dr. Audrey Tluczek, director of the recruitment program, tells Channel3000.com, “Having nurses who are actually members of a community is really vital to addressing the great health disparity that actually exists in these communities…We only have one or two students per year who self-identify as American Indian, or Native American.”
The UW-Madison School of Nursing is working with the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council to recruit and retain 30 Native American nurses and create opportunities for future students and impact health outcomes in their local community. Funding from the grant will provide financial support for Native American nursing students and help develop peer support programs for these students. To learn more about the STREAM grant, visit here.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) has a rural health care immersion program where the focus of the curriculum is on disaster and crisis response. Their classroom discussions are usually hypothetical, but after a tornado hit northwestern Wisconsin in late May, nursing students in the rural health care program put their knowledge to the test by aiding in tornado relief efforts.
Clinical assistant professor Pamela Guthman was leading a team of seven nursing students in the Community and Public Health Immersion Clinical program in northwestern Wisconsin when a tornado hit nearby. Students were there to learn about the necessity of health care providers and health educators in rural and underserved communities.
The nursing students partnered with the American Red Cross to aid in recovery efforts, specifically those who were displaced after the tornado destroyed a trailer park. The students did not provide immediate medical attention, but they were able to help by interviewing people affected by the tornado, and providing those people with health and housing information. Guthman tells the Wisconsin State Journal,
“What we’re going to be doing is helping people who have been devastated by the loss of their homes. We know that housing is very closely related to a person’s mental health.”
The counties affected by the tornado have been under-resourced for a long time, creating a health disparity and lack of resources which makes it even harder for these communities to bounce back following a natural disaster. One of the goals of the rural health care immersion program is for students to learn a sensitivity for the challenges of rural communities. There is a need for both health care professionals working on acute crises and professionals focusing on prevention. Public health nurses are an essential part of the healthcare team in rural areas.
To learn more about the rural health care immersion program at UW-Madison and their service providing tornado relief aid, visit here.
With Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs already available at the Brookfield and Kenosha campuses in Wisconsin, Herzing University recently expanded its nursing program to include a BSN degree at its Madison campus. The program was launched to help fill a statewide gap of almost 20,000 nurses by 2035, a projection issued by the Wisconsin Center for Nursing.
Students are eligible to enroll directly into the BSN program and finish their degrees in three years. With spring, summer, and fall semesters available, students can earn their degree faster than traditional four-year BSN programs. Bill Vinson, Madison Campus President at Herzing University, told Herzing.edu,
“We’re excited to make this program available locally in Madison because the industry is changing, with hospitals striving to hire more nurses with a bachelor’s degree. Nursing is still a very in-demand career field, and a BSN makes our students more competitive in the job market.”
Herzing also offers an RN to BSN bridge program that allows licensed registered nurses (RNs) with associate degrees to earn their bachelor’s degree in 12 months. RNs in the bridge program complete their BSN coursework through a combination of in-person and online classroom settings. For Wisconsin nurses who have completed their BSN, the university offers a variety of nursing and healthcare specialty programs, including a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program for family nurse practitioners and nurse educators.
Herzing University is an accredited private nonprofit with 10 campuses in seven states and an online division. The university is known for its small class sizes and supportive learning environment with a flexible schedule. Learn more about Herzing University and it’s nursing programs here.