Mary has worked as a nurse at Children’s for 14 years. She earned her nursing degree from University of Texas at Arlington and is headed to Johns Hopkins Graduate School for a master’s in Nursing as a clinical nurse specialist with a focus in pediatric health.
Mary works in the Orthopedics Clinic and is program coordinator for the Musculoskeletal Infection Service. She tells us why she chose nursing as a career and her most rewarding moments at Children’s.
Q: Why did you pursue nursing?
MJ: When I was a little girl, our next-door neighbor was a nurse, and she was my idol. She was always cool and calm regardless of whatever chaos was going on.
With our seven kids, her four kids and all of the others in the neighborhood, there was always something going on. She nurtured us and guided us through our bumps, bruises, fractures, stitches and random hospitalizations. She was a great role model as a nurse and as a working mom.
Q: What made you want to work at Children’s and specifically why the Children’s Orthopedics department?
MJ: I always knew that I would work in Pediatrics, and Children’s was a good fit from my very first interaction with the nursing staff during the initial interview process.
I always enjoyed working with the Orthopedics group, and when Orthopedic surgeon Lawson Copley, M.D., approached me about the Musculoskeletal Infection nurse position and shared his vision of the MSI program and what he needed from me to be successful, it was an easy decision.
- Ranked #1 in Orthopedics by
U.S. News & World Report
- Nurse-patient ratio
- Superior Rating (one nurse to three patients)
- Nurse Magnet Recognition
Certified for high nursing standards
- advanced clinical services
- Ranked in all 6 services such as
Children’s pediatric trauma center
- Clinical Support Services
- Ranked in all 9 services, including the
Children’s 24/7 acute pain program
- Specialized Clinics and Programs
- Ranked in all 9 specialized areas such as muscular dystrophy and sports injuries
- Patient and Family Services
- Ranked in all 8 services such as
interpreters and child life specialists
Dr. Copley’s passion about his patients and his vision for building and expanding the program were what brought me to Orthopedics and have kept me excited to be working with him ever since. Working with this team has shown me what “teamwork” really means. We are able to work together, regardless of whether we are seeing 50 patients or 150 patients in a single day in the Orthopedics Clinic. It means that we have to be flexible, willing to pitch in, and we usually have fun doing it!
Q: Tell me about your role in the Orthopedics department.
MJ: My current role as a nurse and as the program coordinator of the nation’s first Joint Commission Disease Specific Care program focused on Musculoskeletal Infections in children is unique. I have the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Copley and to coordinate a hospital-wide multidisciplinary team composed of nurses, physicians and nurse practitioners from varied disciplines and to ensure that all the stakeholders are in agreement and communicating.
My role allows me to establish a caring relationship with the patients and their families during the inpatient stay and to promote continuity of care after discharge. This helps to ensure three critical things are accomplished: understanding and compliance of the treatment plan and appropriate follow up, complimented by the identification of valuable resources for patients and their families.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
MJ: It can be a balancing act! To ensure that I am up to date on all the recent clinical changes with our inpatients, while monitoring pending labs on our outpatients and preparing for our next clinic patients is such an important part of my role, and I want to ensure that we provide quality, comprehensive care to all of our families.
Q: What are you proudest of regarding your work in Orthopedics at Children’s?
MJ: Working with the multidisciplinary team composed of the orthopedic physician, orthopedic mid-levels, hospitalist team, staff nurse, charge nurse and care coordinator and rounding on our patients on a daily basis is a great way to ensure that we are all on the same page. We invite the parents to attend and participate in our daily rounds, which empowers families in a way that allows them to be equal team members in planning their child’s care.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
MJ: When I meet families, I introduce myself and my role as the MSI Nurse, give them my contact information and let them know that when they go home they can contact me with any questions, concerns or issues. I know as a parent, having someone who knows me and my child and what the plan is and their direct line to call if there are any concerns is so reassuring. I hope that I give families that feeling of confidence that they are not alone when they leave the hospital and have to manage at home.
Q: Tell me about a memorable experience with a patient.
MJ: One of the most challenging cases that we encountered was a 14-month-old female patient from a local pediatrician who referred her to us due to the child not wanting to bear weight on her left lower extremity.
She arrived in clinic accompanied by her mom. Labs were obtained upon arrival per the MSI guidelines, and when the results were available we saw the patient. At this clinic visit, the patient presented with elevated labs, still not bearing full weight on her left lower extremity, and she was febrile. By my clinical assessment of this toddler, she appeared ill. She was very pale with droopy eyes, not willing to bear weight on her affected extremity and quietly sitting in her mom’s lap clinging to her.
While this behavior is developmentally appropriate, it was her physical appearance that was the primary indicator that she was not clinically well. Dr. Copley, her mom and I discussed the treatment plan for her which was to admit her for further orthopedic evaluation. I sat with mom and discussed the plan for admission and imminent surgery, answered all her questions and then accompanied mom and baby to their assigned inpatient room.
I knew at that moment that what I do on a daily basis makes a difference, and it’s why I come back each day to do it all over again.
During this admission and during a subsequent admission, I was able to meet with the patient’s mom on a daily basis. I rounded with Dr. Copley and other members of the MSI multidisciplinary team each morning. Helping the mom to anticipate what would occur while her baby was inpatient as well as after discharge assisted her in planning how to arrange care.
After ruling out a musculoskeletal infection, the baby was seen by Rheumatology and diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I saw them several weeks later on the way to an appointment. They were smiling and both looked happy and healthy. Her mom stopped me in the hallway and told me how much it meant to her that I was involved in her daughter’s care. We talked for a few moments, and as they turned to walk away, I watched them together, holding hands. I knew at that moment that what I do on a daily basis makes a difference, and it’s why I come back each day to do it all over again.