For Tucson Medical Center Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Elizabeth Maish, the decision to pursue a nursing and management career came naturally based on her love for humanity.
Maish kick-started her career by graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in nursing administration. She later worked as a manager and director in nursing for several years and had several influential mentors that helped guide her future.
“My goal was always the same – improve healthcare and patients’ experience,” she said. “This drive led me into the world of healthcare quality and safety improvement. That coupled with the sheer force and power of nursing led me into more senior roles, like the one I am in now.”
In her position as Chief Nursing Officer, Maish is responsible for improving the nursing practice at Tucson Medical Center by ensuring ample staff is performing the correct duties to create a therapeutic and safe environment for patients.
“This means showing compassion, smarts, critical thinking, humor, and problem solving like nobody’s business – that’s what nurses do,” said Maish. “It takes a lot of time and focus to stay on the things that matter.”
Maish said her career is one that comes with many challenges, such as maintaining adequate communication in a hectic industry.
“Communication can be really difficult with so many moving parts,” she said. “I’m pretty results-oriented and I like to move quickly. Sometimes ‘quick’ can get in the way of a smooth process. Communication remains a challenge for most working in a large system like ours. I try to keep it top of mind by asking myself who needs to know about this before I or anyone on my team launches forward with a change or a project.”
Even more challenging can be the heartbreaking experiences that come with nursing, but there is just as much reward in the industry, Maish added. In fact, the reward is what Maish considers to be the definition of success.
“The patient brought here having a heart attack and his life is saved,” said Maish. “The family that quietly says goodbye, together at a bedside, working out a tough problem with doctors and other healthcare roles. Starting a new, improved process and it works the way it was intended to.”
For those seeking a career in the healthcare industry, Maish has some words of advice.
“Think carefully about jumping into the fray that is healthcare. Ask yourself if you see the full spectrum of life – joy, anger, sadness, frustration, all of it – and work in it and through it,” she said. “Unlike television, there are few ‘high action’ moments in the hospital everyday. A lot of the time, it is the very small steps forward, a few more bites of food, lessening pain, more smiling… it is the little things that all up to the world inside a healthcare institution.”