Living like a leader: A day with Methodist Hospital CNO Jane McCurley

Jane McCurley

"I do snack rounds at least once a month, where I take some goodies out, visit a floor and just talk to people. I think I'm highly visible and engaged with my frontline team because I recognize their importance to the organization."

Between clinical objectives, financial concerns, patient needs and complex payer dynamics, there seem to be too few hours in the day for healthcare executives to address the diverse set of organizational goals they are tasked with accomplishing.

Jane McCurley, DNP, became CNO of San Antonio-based Methodist Hospital in October 2017. She previously served as CNO of St. David's North Austin (Texas) Medical Center, Richland Hills, Texas-based Medical City North Hills and Medical City Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. She earned her MBA from Texas Women's University in Denton and her doctorate in nursing practice, advanced practice nursing from Fort Worth-based Texas Christian University.

Ms. McCurley took the time to speak with Becker's Hospital Review for our "Living like a leader" series, which examines the daily routines of influential decision-makers to offer readers an idea of how they manage their energy, teams and time.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity

Question: What's the first thing you do when you wake up?

Jane McCurley: I get up very early, at 3:30 a.m., and watch about 30 minutes of news just to get caught up on what's going on in the world. Then I go work out for an hour, take a shower and come to work. This morning I was here by 6:20.

Q: What's the first thing you like to do when you arrive at work?

JM: I usually go over my email, print my calendar, and then depending on the day I usually try to go up and catch my night shift nurses before they go home. I try to catch both shifts at change of shift.

Q: What do you like to get done before lunch?

JM: Honestly there's no white space on the calendar, not even for lunch. But I like to at least get to my Lawson, which is my HR module. I try to scan the emails for anything critical that needs immediate attention. I have what's called a nursing data portal that I go into daily and review outcomes and hospital acquired infections by unit.

Q: How much of your time is spent with direct reports?

JM: I would say on a given week it is about 25 percent. I have a daily huddle every day at 8:30 a.m. with directors across the organization, people who are both my direct reports and not, to go over safety and other issues. I do employee rounding that I schedule. We have a monthly meeting model with my direct reports, a formal meeting where we go over metrics, as well as numerous meetings with different directors.

This afternoon I have a weekly patient experience committee meeting, which again has all of my leaders in it. I also have planning for National Nurses' Week, which usually starts in December and goes all the way through Nurses' Week in May.

We have a scheduled three-hour weekly senior leader meeting and then we have a scheduled weekly one-hour senior leader rounding, where we round as a senior team on the units. And then I have a weekly senior nursing leader team meeting, with my ACNO and my vice presidents.

Q: How often do you meet with clinical staff?

JM: I round on the floor at least three times a week. I connect with my frontline staff in different ways, like a staff meeting tomorrow morning. There are morning huddles on every unit at 6:45 a.m, so I try to attend several of those a week. I also have a professional practice council, which is made of about 40 of my front-line staff members. That's two hours per month, which I sit in on that to hear from the nurses driving nursing practice across the organization. I also round weekly, sometimes several times, with my vice president of patient experience.

Q: How do you think your routine is different than other executives?

JM: Well, I will say the one thing I hear from my staff and my leadership team is that I'm very visible and have an open-door policy. My staff knows I'm here in the morning, so if any of the night shift nurses want to meet with me, or any nurses, they can do that whenever they request. I also do nursing orientation every two weeks for an hour, where I spend time with all the new hires as well as a six-month new hire breakfast with my staff.

I do snack rounds at least once a month, where I take some goodies out, visit a floor and just talk to people. I think I'm highly visible and engaged with my frontline team because I recognize their importance to the organization. I also meet quarterly with my charge nurses to hear what they need, what their concerns are and how I can help.

Q: What is the hardest part of your day?

JM: That can go several ways. My initial thought is the hardest part of my day is finding time to do the visionary, strategic thinking that needs to happen, so that tends to happen after hours. I think another hard part of the day is being able to meet the needs of the organization with standards I hold myself to. I wish I could do more, round more and be with my staff more often because that's the good part of my job. That's the fun part.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your day?

JM: It's when I'm with staff and talking with them about what they're doing. One of my CEOs one time, he knows me very well, he said, "I know when you need to go round." That's what fills my cup. When I'm out talking to staff and they're excited to tell me what they're doing, or maybe I'm bringing some innovative technology to my team for what they need and asking how I can help them work smarter, not harder — that's rewarding.

Q: What's the last thing you do before you leave the office?

JM: Check my schedule for the next day.

Q: Do you work at home?

JM: I do. Not as much as I used to, but yes. Sometimes it's just getting caught up on emails, sometimes it's reading journal articles. Last week was a really busy week, so I had to spend some time after church yesterday doing some agendas for meetings this week because I don't really have any work time to do that. But [that doesn't happen] a lot. I try to lead by example about work-life balance with my team.

Q: How do you unwind when you finally get home?

JM: A glass of wine [laughs]. Time with family. People think I'm weird, but I cook dinner for my husband every night. I love my time with my husband. My children are grown, but I enjoy time with my family.

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