4 Q Nursing in Action

Mary Gullatte began her career on a leukemia unit at Emory.

Four decades later, she directs nursing innovation and research for Emory Healthcare and is editor of the recently published book 21st Century Nursing Leadership. We posed four questions:

1. What did working as an oncology nurse teach you?

It gave me a holistic view of nursing, which is about the mind, body, and spirit. When someone has cancer, they need people who know how to manage their disease and help them on their journey, physically and emotionally.

2. What makes a nursing leader?

Every nurse is a leader. It’s not about job titles. It’s not about where you work but what you do, whether caring for patients in a clinic or leading a hospital system. You want to make people feel that you value them and what they bring to the table. You must be able to hear and embrace their ideas while pulling everyone together as a team to reach a common goal.

3. How has nursing changed?

We have a multi-generational, high-tech workforce and a patient population that is diverse in terms of age, language, and culture. Connecting with these patients is important. We’re here to teach them how to care for themselves and manage their disease. We’re so high tech that we sometimes forget about the high-touch piece—that the patient is still a human being.

4. Where is nursing headed?

Health care advocacy is our next frontier. Nurses can be strong, active leaders in different environments. You can be a voice in the legislature to craft a health care bill. You can be governor. You can be a school principal. Think about the difference you could make in a school system as a principal with a nursing background.

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