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The COVID-19 pandemic and its pressures helped Meredith Foxx, APRN, MSN, MBA, Cleveland Clinic’s Executive Chief Nursing Officer, hone her notion of strong leadership to include four simple rules.
In an interview with Brian Bolwell, MD, for the “Beyond Leadership” podcast, Foxx speaks about lessons that her time in nursing leadership have offered. These guidelines apply to others as well as ourselves, she says. The first, she adds, is “be kind.”
“We never know what anybody is up against — what happened the morning before they left for work or before they came to this appointment or got admitted to the hospital,” she says. “We don’t know what people are up against. And be kind to yourself, because you’re not always going to have a great day.”
The second rule: Be humble. “Be humble about yourself, and just in general about what you can and can’t accomplish,” Foxx says. “It does take a village, and large teams, to get stuff done.”
Forgiveness is the third rule, and it applies to oneself and others. “Not everybody comes with their best self every day for whatever reason,” Foxx says.
Finally, she adds, be patient. “Those are four very simple things I’ve figured out leading through the pandemic,” Foxx says. “Be kind, be humble, be forgiving and be patient.”
Dr. Bolwell: Today in healthcare we’ve got a shortage of nurses and you’re the executive nursing director of one of the largest healthcare organizations in the country. How are we managing it?
Foxx: I’d be remiss to say we haven’t been challenged by it despite being one of the best healthcare organizations in the world. Our challenges have come, and we’ve recovered from some of the post-pandemic and workforce shortages. I do say that it’s not just about a nursing workforce shortage, but many different shortages within the healthcare arena.
How do we work together when any of the care support is limited? Whether it is nursing, laboratory, phlebotomy, respiratory therapy — everyone’s had their challenges. So how do we support each other? How do we not make it about one area being short versus another? How do we come together to … make sure that we are still taking care of patients with the highest quality, safest care possible?
What I am most proud of when I go to our hospitals, our nursing units, our emergency rooms, our ambulatory care centers, our specialty care centers, infusion suites — when I ask any of the nurses there or the nurse leaders what they’re most proud of, the first thing out of their mouth is teamwork. So, the teams are working cohesively together, and they rely on each other, whether it’s the nursing team with the physicians and the APPs, everyone says teamwork is what they’re most proud of and everyone lifts each other up. So, I think it’s somehow, we are instilling that it is the team that makes things happen and that they can rely on each other.
I still believe that nursing is the best career. We are with people at their most vulnerable. We see them overcome great challenges. So, I think there’s opportunity for us to instill in our younger generations what it means to have a career in healthcare and to be giving back people and improving their health and getting them out of illness or chronic disease.