"Why I’m proud to be a critical care nurse."

Meet the team: (top L to R) Mark Gemina, RN, Jill Hamilton, RN, Jeremy Guthrie, RN Resident, Kerry Santa Lucia, RN, Kathryn Patton, RN; (bottom) Justin Myers, RN
Meet the team: (top L to R) Mark Gemina, RN, Jill Hamilton, RN, Jeremy Guthrie, RN Resident, Kerry Santa Lucia, RN, Kathryn Patton, RN; (bottom) Justin Myers, RN

By Kathryn Patton, MHA, BSN, RN
ICU Nurse Manager, Critical Care Services
Methodist Charlton Medical Center

In the spring of 2016, Methodist Charlton Medical Center expanded its critical care services to 32 beds. We asked Kathryn Patton, ICU nurse manager in critical care services at Methodist Charlton, about her career and why she is proud to be a critical care nurse.

Q: How long have you been a critical care nurse?

Patton: I’ve been a registered nurse for 16 years, and of those, six years have been in critical care. For the last three years, Methodist Charlton has been my home.

Q: Why did you become a nurse?

Patton: It’s a tradition in my family. My grandmother, mother, sister, and sister-in-law were or are all nurses. I started my nursing career path when I was in high school and completed a clinical rotation in health occupation education.

Q: What do you love most about nursing as a career?

Patton: I have worked in many different roles as a nurse throughout my career, all while continuing to broaden my professional scope by obtaining my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I began in orthopedics and medical-surgical, often as a traveling nurse. I moved to mother-baby care, and then, after obtaining my bachelor’s degree in nursing, I worked in a surgery center for a year. When the administrator left, the surgery center gave me the opportunity to assume that position. I stayed for six years and did everything from scrub into surgery to negotiate insurance contracts. It was an invaluable experience. Ultimately, I felt I needed a job where I was always going to be challenged. I loved the operating room and had an interest in becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist, but I needed ICU experience. I applied for a position in the Methodist Dallas Medical Center Critical Care Unit Internship program. It was there that I realized how much I had to learn. I was shocked that even though I had been a nurse for eight years, there was still so much I didn’t know.

Q: How does your current job make you happy?

Patton: For me, three things stand out. I enjoy the people with whom I work. I value the support I receive from leadership and co-workers. The mental challenges and sense of accomplishment I feel every day provide the stimulation and learning environment that is so important to me.

Q: What’s been your most amazing experience as a critical care nurse at Methodist Charlton?

Patton: Undoubtedly, helping transition into the new ICU including working with current staff, hiring new staff, developing policies and procedures, and earning my co-workers’ trust by providing stability during a time of tremendous change. It has been very fulfilling for me.

Q: Speaking of the new ICU at Methodist Charlton, how does the new unit make a difference for your nurses in their daily work?

Patton: The technology that is available to nurses in the new unit has truly improved the quality of their work life and, in turn, improved the care we provide to patients. Responder Five is a new call system that links staff phones at any given moment. It allows us to text all nurses to communicate changes or needs. Examples are a new admission coming into the unit, a critical care patient need, an alert about an immediate need for a huddle. Communication is a critical success factor in the critical care environment because we cover a large geographic area. Plus, we staff 18 licensed nurses and five ancillary staff per shift when we are at capacity. Effective communication supported by the latest technology enables us to function as an effective team and maintain our focus on our patients.

Q: Why did you choose to work at Methodist Charlton?

Patton: I need to work in an environment that is progressive, proactive, and fast paced. Methodist Charlton began Intensivist coverage almost three years ago. This has made a meaningful impact in the way we treat and manage our critical care patients.

Q: What are the biggest challenges you encounter and how do you overcome them?

Patton: My biggest challenge was to gain the trust of the existing employees when I started in my new role. I needed their trust to be their leader. I attribute the success I have had in this endeavor to transparency, effective communication, leadership style, and being there with them, physically by their side, to help them. I am proud that we have truly become a high-energy, high-results team.

Q: What are your thoughts about the leadership style at Methodist Charlton?

Patton: Everyone, from our president down through the management ranks, is transformational. That’s important to me because that’s my leadership style as well. Everyone in my unit is equal. We are one team. When issues come up, we address them immediately face to face. We problem solve together. When there is a desire to change something, our unit-based council leads the initiative to come up with a solution. This transformational style is not something the organization strives for, it’s something the leaders live every day.

Q: What keeps you at Methodist Charlton?

Patton: The culture. The people. The commitment to deliver quality care to our patients. Probably 90 percent of our employees in the ICU drive by at least one hospital to get to Methodist Charlton. We have many employees from Plano, Garland, Granbury, Waxahachie, Irving, and Lewisville, just to name a few. Our staff is invested in our hospital and unit as demonstrated by their dedication and loyalty. I have been fortunate to have worked in several different healthcare systems in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This has given me a great perspective of work flow and culture that I value. Methodist Charlton is by far the best place and the best group of people with whom I have ever worked. It says a lot about the compassionate people who choose to work here.

If you’re ready to find your niche in an organization that checks all your boxes for career satisfaction, consider Methodist Charlton Medical Center. Visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System