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Healthcare Is Their Business  

Maureen Schneider The current state of healthcare is an ever-changing climate, rife with new challenges but also opportunities. As the needs of the modern global society continue to increase, so does the demand for nurses to enhance and diversify their skillset, embrace new responsibilities and assume leadership roles to match the expansion of healthcare as an industry.

Two graduates of the College of Nursing's Ph.D. in Nursing program are at the helm of two of New Jersey's most prominent hospitals as chief administrators—literally at the top of their professions. Trish O'Keefe, Ph.D., R.N. is President of Morristown Medical Center and Vice President at Atlantic Health System, Morristown Medical Center's parent company. Maureen A. Schneider, Ph.D., M.B.A., R.N., N.E.A., B.C., C.P.H.Q., F.A.C.H.E. is presently the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer at Chilton Medical Center, also part of Atlantic Health System. Both women play pivotal roles as leaders in their respective organizations, and they credit the College of Nursing for giving them the skills intrinsic to overseeing a diverse set of stakeholders—medical staffs, nurses, operational staff and other hospital administrators, to name a few—in a broad range of initiatives and issues.

 HealthcareThe career path for both women has a number of similarities, and they each cited the rigor of the Ph.D. program for preparing them to effectively lead in a real-world setting. "The program provides not only a rigorous research focus, but has been instrumental in guiding my ability to synthesize my objectives and deliver a clear, concise direction," states O'Keefe. "Rigor" is indeed the word echoed by Schneider: "The program is rigorous—and that's what you need to do this kind of work every day."

Quotes Schneider, "I was part of the inaugural class. There were nine of us. The strong clinical component along with the research really inspired me to proceed." Inspiration is key to leading an organization, and both women felt that the ability to motivate their various stakeholders was heightened. Schneider in particular places great importance on being a role model for nurses to return to school for advanced degrees. Likewise, O'Keefe values the ability to empower her leadership team—from middle managers to executives—to ensure they grow and flourish within the organization. She further states, "In order to lead the organization and ensure we are all working toward the common goals of patient safety and high-quality care, I need to continually, consistently communicate to staff across all disciplines in order to influence processes and progress."

One of O'Keefe's current undertakings is Atlantic Health System's adoption of the Epic electronic health record. The integrated system allows a patient's record to be shared across all institutions that use Epic, ensuring better care coordination. Once complete, the arduous task of doctors needing to work from partial or multiple records will be greatly reduced. It will also help to eliminate a patient's need to inform a new healthcare professional of their entire, sometimes complicated, history.

"This is an exciting time to be in health care. It's an opportunity to redesign health care delivery, and I am very privileged to be in this role," O'Keefe remarks. Under her leadership, Morristown Medical Center received the prestigious designation as an American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Hospital for Nursing Excellence in 2001, with re-designations in 2005, 2009 and 2014—one of only 24 hospitals internationally and nationally to receive the award four times. In addition, the hospital has been named as one of America's 'Best 50 Hospitals' in the nation by Healthgrades with O'Keefe in her executive role. Schneider is presently engaged in working on Chilton Medical Center's accreditation to also become a magnet hospital in a similar vein.

The parallel mission for both women is easy access to high-quality health care. This means providing easy-to-find health care services, earlier detection of health problems through screening programs, education programs, and responding to the needs of their communities to promote wellness.

In the changing world of healthcare reform, perhaps some can be reassured that these two hospitals have their patients' best interests well in-hand.

Among other distinctions, O'Keefe cites the College of Nursing's reputation for science, the flexibility and lasting relationships with faculty and fellow graduates as a few of the reasons that make an education here different from other similar institutions. "Seton Hall played an important role in developing my skill set to run one of the largest hospitals in New Jersey." She currently sits on the Seton Hall University President's Advisory Board.

Maureen Schneider currently teaches doctoral nursing students business and leadership management as an adjunct faculty member. For her, the University and its College of Nursing has left an indelible mark, creating a legacy for many members of the Schneider family. Her daughter is presently attending the M.S.N. program and works for Hackensack-Meridian Health as a staff nurse. Son Steven completed his B.S.N. and will graduate this May with his M.S.N. Her son Brian completed his B.S.N. and M.S.N. and is currently working on his Ph.D. Even Schneider's daughter-in-law is a part of the tradition, having completed her B.S.N. and M.S.N. and also is now attending the Ph.D. program. Quotes Schneider, "We certainly have made a commitment to SHU. It's such a well-respected school. The closeness and personal, detailed support make it just like a family. It's a phenomenal education."

Find out more about the Ph.D. in Nursing program here.

Categories: Health and Medicine

For more information, please contact:

  • Michael Giorgio
  • (973) 275-4953
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