Anything is Possible: Meet Irene Strejc
by Irene Strejc, MPH, BSN, RN, CENP, ACHE
Vice President of Nursing and Chief Nursing Officer
Methodist Richardson Medical Center
Winston Churchill once said, “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” This completely resonates with me. I am eternally optimistic, and that is reinforced with my experiences at Methodist Health System. Here, I’ve been able to make my wildest dreams come true when our hospital, Methodist Richardson Medical Center, achieved Magnet® designation.
My dream to become a nurse started when I was 5 years old. I had a reaction to a medication and was temporarily paralyzed. The nurses who took care of me were amazing and helped ease the pain of my burning muscles. I knew right then that I wanted to give to others the same kind of compassionate care I received. In fact, I come from a family of caregivers — nurses, a nun, a director of radiology. We all flocked to healthcare and caring for others. It’s our culture. It’s in our DNA — and I’m adopted!
At the ripe age of 20, I was an associate nurse and anxious to work at the bedside. After about 10 years, my supervisor encouraged me to go back to school and get my Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN). At the time, I was newly married with three small children and felt overwhelmed. How could I possibly juggle my family responsibilities with work and, now, school? I told my CNO that it would be years before I completed my BSN. In fact, I’d be 36 years old! She simply said, “You’ll be 36 with or without a degree.” That did it. With the support of my family, my CNO, and tuition reimbursement, I got my BSN in six years.
I thought I was done with school but not long after, I was encouraged to go back and pursue a master’s degree. I quickly discovered that learning is a lifelong endeavor, and I loved being an advocate and role model of learning for my children.
I came to Methodist Richardson in 2010, and from the very first day, I had one big goal in mind — Magnet designation. We prepared for Magnet review in 2013 but didn’t have the bench strength and evidence to achieve designation. Although we were initially disappointed, we didn’t let their review get us down. Our determination only grew stronger. We took the opportunity to work harder, putting more evidence into our practices, with more joy and spirit than ever before. It worked. Four years later, we were the first Methodist hospital to achieve Magnet status.
If you had told me in the early years that I would be here now, I wouldn’t have believed you. I just kept my eyes and mind open to new opportunities as they came my way. I took this journey and looked to leaders to guide me. The key is to simply be open to the next opportunity. Even if you have no idea what lies ahead, just remember that the possibilities are endless. You can only go as far as you think you can, and fortune favors the brave.
Between mentoring, tuition reimbursement, and flexible scheduling, you really can achieve anything you want at Methodist. I believe everything is possible here, it’s just up to you to make that leap of faith.
At Methodist Health System, we encourage you to aim high and create an amazing career. I always say, “Come with me. The best is yet to be.” Join us, and realize dreams you didn’t even know you had. Visit Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.
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