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Spotlight on Mary Jo Pedulla, MScM, BSN, RN, NE-BC

Director of Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston

What inspired you to become a nurse?

For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I grew up in a “nurse family.” My mother and two aunts were nurses. I remember my mother working the 3-11 shift and prepping dinner for my siblings and me before she headed out for her shift, and asking my grandmother to make sure our homework was done before bedtime. I loved the uniform and white shoes. My mom looked so professional! I also have fond memories of mom and my aunties talking “shop” over coffee. They had so many stories about their patients and how they cared for them. Some of these stories were truly amazing and inspirational, and others were sad and touched me greatly. All of their shared nursing stories impacted me by their fierce candidness and compelling need to care for people through their hardships. I knew I wanted to be part of that kinship called nursing.

There were also family events that helped shape and inspire my interest in nursing. One of my brothers suffered a serious hockey injury in high school. He was in the hospital for some time. I was fascinated by all the activity in his room. I was mesmerized with all the equipment, the pumps and monitors. I was moved by how the injury affected him and this too led me to this amazing profession. Also, one of my aunts was a nurse in a chronic care hospital for children. She would bring me there to meet her patients and her colleagues she worked with. It was during these visits that I fell in love with caring for children.

How did you come to work for Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston?

Before coming to the Boston Shriners Hospital, I was the associate chief nurse of maternal and child health at Boston Medical Center (BMC). I like to say I grew up at BMC. I was afforded so many professional opportunities to grow as a nurse leader at BMC. I had an amazing opportunity to be BMC’s interim chief nursing officer (CNO) for about one year. I knew after that experience I wanted to be a CNO. Being able to affect changes in nursing and patient care departments was where I wanted to focus my professional energy. Knowing this, I also knew that while I loved the interim leadership opportunity, I did not want to interview for the role. I knew that in order for me to be an effective CNO I needed to work in a smaller environment. It is incredibly important to me that I know my team I am leading. I wanted to find a place where I could say hello to staff and know everyone’s names and how their families are doing. To me, this is equally as important as learning about the patients they were caring for during their shifts. I found that place here at Shriners [Hospital].

Can you tell us about your role?

The director of patient care services (DPCS)/nurse executive role is a dynamic and fluid one. It is a privilege to be part of this organization and lead such a talented group of clinical specialists. The DPCS position covers many domains from fiscal oversight, performance improvement, human resource management and of course clinical oversight. Another responsibility is to mentor and grow new staff both at the bedside and in the boardroom. Additionally, the position requires me to always be true to what matters most: the patient. My team knows when there is a difficult situation that requires a hard decision, I always remind them that when we put the patient in the middle of the discussion, we usually find the right answer.

The DPCS role allows me to incorporate my passion for leading a dynamic team of clinical professionals while utilizing both my professional managerial and clinical knowledge to affect positive changes in patient care services. This impacts overall patient care, resulting in positive outcomes and experiences.

2020 is the Year of the Nurse. Do you have any reflections on this observance?

It is exciting to know that we are in the year of the nurse. While there is much to celebrate about the nursing profession and its origins, this year has been more than challenging for nursing. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged everyone and nursing has been at the center of it all. Although we have not cared for COVID patients in our hospital, our nursing team and colleagues constantly rose to the occasion to assist as needed. One example when we called for “all hands on deck” to repurpose the seventh floor for adult burn patients from MGH. This was no small task and the patient care services staff response was nothing short of remarkable.

Nursing is always at the center of health care. While health care changes are many, so are the challenges for today’s nurses. Boston Shriners Hospital nurses are not immune to these issues.

Do you have any favorite stories or memories to share from your time here?

There are so many memories that I have collected during my four years as the hospital’s DPCS. The triaging and accepting of patients from an orphanage fire in Guatemala, being witness to numerous recoveries of our patients and seeing their love for our staff when they return to the hospital, and of course all the sports teams who come to be part of our amazing celebrations! These celebrations help our kids be kids during their recovery.

A memory that will always stand out for me is not one that received much fanfare. It was a moment in time that stays with me whenever I think of our clinical teams. It was the observation of the entire team who cared for a child in the ICU who was deteriorating quickly. The synergy, exemplary skill set, the constant support for each other, and collaborative effort that it took to care for this child was like watching a symphony. Everyone was moving individually but in a synchronous way with one common goal – keeping this child safe. Being a part of the exquisite care that is delivered every day to our patients will always remain in my heart and my memories, because for me it is through these daily observations that I am reminded why I became a nurse.

Mary Jo Pedulla

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