Interview with Megan Gillespie, Speaker at 2018 PLF

Megan Gillespie, MBA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Director, Maternal Child Health
Patient Care Services
Kaiser Permanente, Santa Clara Medical Center

Synova Associates: What kind of advice would you give to a NICU or Perinatal Nurse Leader?

Megan: One of the biggest pieces is to know what your resources are and to know who your point people are. Health care is 24/7 but there’s a lot we can learn from other businesses in terms of strategies and work flow operations.

Remember that you have the ability to tap into both internal and external resources so use them when you need to. Whether you’re a new leader or seasoned, make sure you keep abreast of what’s happening in our profession both on a local, regional and global landscape.

As a nurse leader, one of the most critical pieces to understand is that you are the catalyst for your hospital’s overall strategic plan, and patient care delivery program.


Synova Associates: How do you deal with difficult staff situations?

Megan: Real time coaching and consistent messaging is key. Leverage internal resources, especially Human Resources. It’s important to have good relationships with your HR department. Know what you want the outcome to be before you enter into the conversation. Know what you want to address while being open to the resolution or the root cause; which often might not be what you originally thought.

As a leader, you need to manage up as well as down through your staff and support people. Continuing professional development and internal quality control with your ancillary team will help address any potential staff issues before they become a problem for the unit or the facility at large.


Synova Associates: What kind of advice can you give about managing with a limited budget?

Megan: Work closely with your finance team. You need to prioritize and figure out what is going to be your most high impact opportunity. Be able to forecast what is going to happen in terms of volume, life of equipment, and what you need to keep on the table because budgets are often done a year beforehand. Have some foresight and be able to construct a business plan to speak to variances when they occur.

You need to establish sound relationships across all entities because it really takes the whole hospital to work together to achieve the very best outcome.


Synova Associates: What should nurse leaders consider when deciding upon continuing education and networking for their staff?

Megan: Knowing your local AWHONN & NANN chapter is an excellent avenue for providing direction in terms of growth and opportunity for your staff. As you yourself grow in your leadership abilities, you advance your professional skills. One of the potential pitfalls with becoming a leader is that as you become more advanced in your leadership skills, you start to lose your clinical abilities and you go through a grieving time. I know I did. But you’re still impacting care with a broader reach. You will experience a strong sense of vulnerability when you realize how much you need your front line.

Conferences like Synova Associates Nurse Leadership Forums offer professional networking opportunities that are so vital. Having those unfiltered discussions with people in our profession who are having the same challenges is one of the best ways to learn.

Synova Associates: Any last pearls of wisdom?

Megan: Place a great importance on finding a way to re-inspire yourself. Our profession is 24/7. It’s not a role you walk away from. Instead it’s more of a practice that you integrate into your daily life so make sure you build in time for self-care and finding joy in the daily practice of our profession.