Becker's 10th Annual Meeting Speaker Series: 3 Questions with Holly McCormack, Chief Nursing Officer for Cottage Hospital

Holly McCormack, MSN, serves as Chief Nursing Officer for Cottage Hosptial.

On April 1st, Holly will speak at Becker's Hospital Review 10th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place April 1-4, 2019 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Holly's session, click here.

Question: What one strategic initiative will demand the most of your time and energy in 2019?

Holly McCormack: The strategic initiative that I am presently focusing a good deal of my energy on is recruiting and retaining a strong nursing work force. New Hampshire is blessed with a very low unemployment rate (2.5%). This creates a real challenge. The 26 hospitals within the state are all working diligently to recruit and retain good staff. I have been working with the various schools of nursing to make clinical placements and internships easily accessible. To accomplish this I have had to reach out to my masters prepared staff to find a clinical instructor on several occasions. Hosting nursing students is a great way to show the students and soon to be graduates what our critical access hospital has to offer in terms of opportunity. Often time smaller hospitals are overlooked as students feel that they will not get as much “exposure” to acute patients. A clinical rotation helps to dispel that myth. I meet the students at school and spend time getting to know them when they are onsite during their clinical rotations. I feel that making myself accessible and approachable will demonstrate the positive culture that exists within our facility. I have also joined the advisory boards for these organizations. In order to retain the nurses that are in our current work force, it is important to recognize the desire for work life balance, show appreciation and support continued education. This is reflected within our culture and demonstrated by the leadership provided by my team leaders and myself.

Q: Tell us about the last meaningful interaction you had with a patient.

HM: I feel that every interaction that I have with a patient is meaningful. Our patients come to us often during very trying and vulnerable times in their lives. It is important that we realize that “tasks” and conversations that come to us as part of our day to day may have a much more significant impact on the patient and their family. In a speech that I gave recently to a group of graduating nurses, I reminded them to keep in mind that they will not remember all of their patients, but many of their patients will remember them. On days when they feel like there are just a drop in the bucket, the ripples from that drop were felt far and wide. It is crucial that we are always cognizant of this.

Q: Can you share some praise with us about people you work with? What does greatness look like to you when it comes to your team?

HM: Yes, I can. I work for a critical access hospital in northern New Hampshire. I have been part of this team for over 9 years. I knew the day that I first came onsite to interview that I wanted to be part of this team. As you walk through the halls, staff will offer a smile and a pleasant “good morning”. It makes visitors feel welcome and comforted. Now that I am here and on the team, I know that the warmth comes from a place of pride and ownership in their work. We, as a team, always strive to be the best. We describes ourselves as “The Little Engine That Could”. Our facility is the only level four trauma center in the northern half of the state for both pediatrics and adult patients. Our surgical team is working on an enhanced recovery pilot program. As a facility, we have answered the call related to the mental health crisis in our state. We opened a 10 bed geriatric psychiatric unit. This is what makes the team great. We do not let our size dictate our level of greatness. To answer the question, what does greatness look like? It is empowered leaders who take full accountability for their practice and are working together to provide high quality patient care.

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