At the Helm Jacky Schultz, R.N., M.S.N., C.N.A.A. President – Suburban Hospital

Published in Dome - At the Helm

Q.  Can you describe your path to senior leadership?

A.  I certainly did not rise to leadership in a simple and straightforward way. I remember something a former CEO told me. He reminded me that I had two things to overcome: First, I was a woman. And second, I was a nurse. I realized he was absolutely correct. While more women are continuing to break through the glass ceiling of management, many nurses still struggle with stereotypes of their chosen profession. I believe that nurses are particularly well-suited for positions in upper management. I think both my gender and my career choice have enhanced my abilities to lead. I’m proud of being a nurse and it is the foundation of everything I do.

Q.  What qualities make nurses good leaders?

A.  Some people have an outdated perception that nurses are fundamentally nurturers, but not leaders. The reality is that nurses are not only credible clinicians, but also credible businesspeople. As frontline staff, we understand better than many others how health care works. Nurses are great problem solvers and priority setters, and work exceptionally well in teams. Collaboration and communication are key competencies for nurses. All of those qualities position them well for leadership.

Q.  How is Suburban Hospital building leaders among its nursing staff?

A.  Suburban Hospital has established a nursing culture that expects professionalism, accountability, collaboration and compassion. Our Nursing Practice Model, developed six years ago by and for Suburban nurses, emphasizes continuing education and professional development. With guidance from our Professional Development Council, 32 percent of our nurses — more than 200 — are now certified in their specialties. To help enable this, we cover the cost of their exams for their first, and if necessary, second try. In addition, more than 60 nurses have participated in our clinical ladder program, earning promotions and/or positions with higher responsibility.

Over the past years our direct-care nurses have become increasingly involved and valued in institutionwide decision making and problem solving. Supporting this work gives our nurses the voice to impact outcomes.

When we officially applied for our Nursing Magnet designation last October, it was a very emotional experience for me, our nurses and our entire Suburban Hospital staff. Although magnet is a nursing credential, the designation recognizes the teamwork and collaboration of the entire hospital.  Nursing cannot achieve excellent outcomes alone, which is why we are committed to the development of all our staff members.

Q.  In what other ways is Suburban building leaders?

A.  Over the past several years a multidisciplinary team of supervisors, managers and directors has participated in a series of 16 leadership development institutes (LDIs). These one-day workshops focus on building teamwork and skills across a broad range of disciplines, from finance to the patient experience. In addition, 46 midlevel managers have completed a six-week program designed to help them improve their departments’ operational effectiveness.

Q.  What makes Suburban Hospital special?

A.  People often ask me what distinguishes Suburban from other nearby hospitals. Suburban’s strength is in delivering highly skilled care to those with serious and complex illnesses and injuries. We’ve been a trauma center for 40 years, which required us to develop strong surgical expertise. Our ICU is among the region’s best. And through collaboration with our colleagues across Johns Hopkins Medicine, we demonstrate an unrelenting commitment to safety, quality and the patient experience.

Q.  What brings you joy at Suburban Hospital?

A.  For me, the joy is in watching the incredible accomplishments of our staff and the wonderful work we do with patients and their families. It is easy to get caught up in the stresses of the business and the regulatory side of what we do, which can be frustrating. The joy is in seeing the patient and family side and connecting back to the “why” behind the “what.”

Q.  What is something many people may not know about you?

A.  I have a trained voice and worked my way through college and nursing school as a singer in lounges.

Q.  What are you most proud of at Suburban Hospital?

A.  I am proud of many accomplishments, but the one that stands out right now is our campus transformation. An enormous amount of effort has gone into this project over the past decade, and we are now seeing the fruits of that labor. Our new, seven-level garage opens soon, and then we break ground for our new clinical building. When that opens, it will be the first major clinical addition to our campus in 40 years! We are so excited that we will finally have the modern facilities that will enable us to continue providing expert care and realize our strategic vision for the future.

For more information on Jacky Schultz, see Women in Leadership.