20/12/2015 10:18 GMT | Updated 20/12/2016 05:12 GMT

Women in Business Q&A: Martie Moore, Chief Nursing Officer, Medline Industries Inc.

Martie Moore

Martie Moore is chief nursing officer of Medline Industries, Inc. based in Mundelein, Ill. In this role, Moore provides nursing leadership for solution-driven clinical programs, delivers product development to enhance bedside practice and launches quality initiatives across the continuum of care.

To date, Moore holds the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) certification and serves as a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, American Organization of Nurse Executives and National Association for Healthcare Quality. In addition, she is a corporate advisory council member for the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) and the American Nurses Association (ANA).

Prior to joining Medline, Moore was the chief nursing officer at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Ore., a hospital within Providence Health & Services and a designated Magnet facility. In her leadership role as CNO, Moore led the facility through its third and fourth Magnet designation. Additionally, during her career development, Moore served as an adjunct faculty member at multiple universities, most recently at George Fox University in the Healthcare Administration Program.

Tell us about your background as a nurse.

You could say my nursing skills kicked into high gear when I was a young child. I grew up on a farm in Oregon and we were always getting ourselves into trouble. When I was 12-years-old, my brother accidentally shot himself. I was young at the time, but still able to help provide care to him. Another time, I impaled my foot on a pitchfork, but successfully disengaged it, stopped the bleeding and cleaned my foot before telling my parents. Even though I did not have any formal training, I often knew what to do if someone was hurt.

When my professional career in nursing began in 1984,I thought I would become an OR nurse. Diagnosis-related groups (DRG) were being introduced by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the hospital laid me off thinking they would have less money and no need for new nurses. Within 30 days though, they asked me to come back to work, but I already found another job as the medical coordinator at a neuromuscular clinic that provided early intervention to children with developmental disabilities. I worked with children with genetic disorders, rehab needs from trauma, community paramedicine and other diagnoses. I also became an expert witness in the field of child maltreatment for Child Protection Services.

I proceeded to take on the role of director of children's services at two different hospitals and developed programs for pediatric services including pediatric flight and trauma programs. As I continued to advance in my career, I took on more responsibilities including, nursing services, quality, informatics, risk management and medical staff services, which expanded into the chief nursing officer (CNO) role that I have done for almost twenty years. I have had accountabilities for not only running hospitals, but also overseeing long-term care, home care and hospice facilities, ambulance services, community clinics and other duties as assigned.

My role as a nurse has never stayed consistent. I've put on a hard hat and climbed into a sewer line to understand why I was going to need to move patients out of one of the hospital towers. The team I was working alongside was amazed that I would do that but I smiled and said, I am a nurse - smells and fluids do not bother me. Now let me see the problem and let's figure out how to get this fixed so that our patients are not impacted. You use many skills in the role of a nurse leader.

What attracted you to the nursing profession?

I originally studied computer science and thought that would be my career path. Yes, I was on my way toward being a Microsoft Millionaire. One day, I was sitting on a park bench in my home town at my favorite park - Lake Sacagawea. Sacagawea was no stranger to doing things differently and I loved going to this park to reflect and think. I was having an internal conversation with myself about my course of schooling. I was unhappy and felt like I was heading down the wrong career path. A moment of clarity kicked in - I needed to change majors and become a nurse. There are no nurses in my family, and this was out of the blue. However, to my parent's credit, they supported me. They did make me work as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in a long-term care facility to assure that I was serious about my career move. I loved every moment of it and that further solidified my desire to be a nurse. In looking back at why I did the change, maybe like Sacagawea, I was looking for a different direction in life and one that held meaning for me. Nursing answered that calling.

What's a typical day in the life like for you in your role as Chief Nursing Officer at Medline?

There is nothing typical in healthcare and I would say that is the same for my role at Medline. Through our products and solutions, we are continually working on helping our customers achieve both clinical and financial success and are committed to helping healthcare providers perform at their very best. Healthcare is rapidly changing and I often find myself serving as a translator. Understanding the industry's complexity and translating it into action is one of the key functions of my role. In an environment that tirelessly demands lower costs and better outcomes, healthcare organizations are seeking efficient approaches toward achieving their goals. Because I have been very blessed in my career to have experience that translates across the continuum, I am able to serve as an advocate for our customers and am continually thinking about how we can meet their needs. Meeting face-to-face with customers is one of the most exciting parts of my job.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?

First and foremost, they need to have courage, confidence and vision for who they are and want to be as a professional. I have never let someone define who I am as a nurse, executive and as a professional. I've worked to develop myself and continue to grow and learn.

There are long hours, difficult situations and life-changing experiences. There are moments that you will never forget and will help shape you as an individual. If you embrace all that nursing has to offer, and it is vast, you will have an incredible career. Women should understand the current system of healthcare, but do not get comfortable with it. Nurses must continue to adapt to meet patients wherever they seek care, far beyond the hospital. Nurses are also in homes, long-term care facilities, retail drug stores and community settings.

Furthermore, not only do nurses need clinical skills, but they need to have business skills. Depending upon the size of the organization, a nurse leader can have fiscal accountabilities for millions or even billions of dollars. Nursing in most hospital settings accounts for the largest portion of the labor costs. Holding special certifications in healthcare administration or quality as a nurse leader is key to moving and improving quality and outcomes in the healthcare setting.

Being a nurse is truly one of the most rewarding careers, but is also one of the most difficult. I encourage women to not believe the words "it cannot be done," and remember, if you want something done, ask a nurse to do it. We will figure out how it can be done and done well.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?

I actively practice an attitude of gratitude and have learned that you cannot take anything for granted. I once got a call I will never forget that required me to come to the emergency department. A four-month-old baby was coming in by ambulance and it was a presumed SIDS case. We met the ambulance team at the door and went to work. As I looked down at this beautiful baby who was dressed in her Christmas dress, I knew the conversation that I and the doctor would be having with the parents would be one of the hardest conversations to have in this profession. The parents had put her down for a nap before they were going to have Christmas pictures taken for their family.

Later that day, I spoke to my brother who worked in the banking industry. He was having a bad day after a multi-million dollar loan had gone astray. He shared his frustration. Then I told him about having to tell family members that the baby they held that morning would not be held again. He quietly said, "thank you for reminding me what is important." It is easy to get caught up in the vortex of living and become numb to what is really important. Practicing gratitude keeps me focused on the right things to put my time, energy and passion towards.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Achieving a work/life balance is nearly impossible and it's something I've come to understand and accept. Sometimes I do a better job at it than other times. I stopped stressing about trying to achieve it and instead, started work on keeping myself healthy no matter what I am putting my energy and focus in. Nature renews me and I look for the beauty of nature no matter where I am at or what I am doing. When I find those moments that catch my attention, I pause to take it in. I also take a moment to reflect and be thankful for what is before me. Look to the sky, it literally is a canvas being painted throughout the day. When you stop and look, take three deep breaths and just appreciate the beauty that is before you, you lower your blood pressure, release hormones that help you to feel calmer and slow your heart rate down. That is how I work to maintain balance in my life.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in your profession?

Equality is the biggest issue for women in the nursing profession. This same issue existed when I started in the profession. A recent study showed that male registered nurses make more than $5,000 per year than their female counterparts across most settings, specialty areas and positions. This makes no sense to me as nursing has been a predominant female industry. This is a very serious issue and I am amazed that we still are having this conversation about skills, abilities, promotion and compensation. I have worked with and for male and female leaders. Each was an individual with strengths, skills and abilities. I judge them on that alone, not on their DNA coding.

What educational opportunities are currently available to help nurses advance and empower their careers?

Nursing is a career that can take you in any direction. Currently, the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP) is emerging as a pathway for those who do not want to conduct research, but are interested in the application of research into practice. Many nurses hold advanced degrees and certification. For example, I have a CPHQ which is a certification in healthcare quality. To maintain my certification, I seek out advanced education, emerging best practices and research through continued education credits. There are numerous grants and scholarships to help nurses advance in their degrees and practice.

Furthermore, our country is rapidly hurdling towards a nursing shortage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 56,800 more nurses will be needed by 2022, an increase of 19.4 percent from 2012. To help ensure an adequate supply of nurses, organizations must heed nurses' emotional physical and professional needs or risk losing them. Ongoing training not only enhances nurses' skills, it elevates their role and provides opportunities for them to desire more advanced positions, particularly as leaders.

Organizations can also empower their nurses to take online courses. Some 40,000 courses are taken by healthcare professionals monthly through Medline University , which offers free educational opportunities. With over 250 CE courses, more than 600,000 registered users across the continuum of care utilize the platform to help improve the clinician-patient relationship, empowerment and career growth.

The question of empowerment is more about developing strong communication skills for different settings. I had to learn how to go from talking with a family about a life-changing illness to meeting with the chief financial officer who wanted to cut three percent of labor budget. I learned to know my data, speak the numbers and communicate the business strategy. Learning to listen and observe is a powerful skill. This ability allowed me to move across and through different settings so I could provide leadership when needed.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

If I did not say Florence Nightingale, I think I would be disowned by my fellow colleagues. There is more to Florence then most people know. She was brilliant. She was a hospital administrator before there was ever a hospital. She understood the need for standardization of care, quality improvement and infection prevention. She was undaunted by her quest for excellence and unwillingness to compromise on what she knew was in the best interest of those who were dependent and vulnerable. I love reading her notes on nursing as there are great leadership examples to draw upon.

The other female leader is someone who never made it into history books. She was an elderly patient I took care of for the first time. As I went to take her blood pressure, I drew up her bed jacket and saw a series of numbers tattooed on her arm. I stopped in my tracks and said, "Are these numbers what I think they are?" She answered patiently as I am sure she had been asked that many times before, "Yes dear, they are."

As I took care of her, I heard her stories of what she endured. Her courage, her losses, her spirit that should have been broken beyond healing, but wasn't. Her coming to America and what it felt like for her to breathe the air as she stepped of the boat. She started a new life and left behind her family; many who died without her ever seeing them again. She was so grateful to come to this country that she went on to become a community leader. Working for those who as she said, "were not as blessed as me."

What do you want Medline to accomplish in the next year?

Healthcare is a constantly-evolving industry, now more than ever, and healthcare organizations need to know how to evolve with it. As a global medical supplies distributor, it is our responsibility to help our customers achieve their clinical and financial goals. Medline never stands still. Through innovation, collaboration and research, we will continue to develop new solutions and products to address disease states, infection prevention and care transitions so our customers can improve the quality of life of their patients.