Name: Maria Vought
Company: Franciscan Alliance, Western Indiana Division
Position: Manager of Informatics
Graduation Year: 2011, Magna Cum Laude
Currently working on Certificate in Informatics
Hometown: Lafayette, Indiana
Why did you become a nurse?
There are quite a few reasons why I became a nurse, but probably the most impactful is that when I was younger, my mother passed away of a heart attack. It was sudden and unexpected. Her last moments were in a Franciscan hospital. During that time, I had an opportunity to come in contact with nurses who didn't know me from anyone else but were gracious and kind in those sensitive moments. I vividly remember a hug from an emergency room nurse who held on to me as they told us my mother did not make it.
Later in my teenage years, my father experienced heart issues. He ended up requiring open heart surgery. Similar to the experience with my mother, he had several nurses who started as strangers but soon treated all of us like family. They helped walk us through each step of the way, from surgery preparation, the procedure itself and the healing process. They helped to make it as smooth as it possibly could be, considering the circumstances.
I was inspired by the nurses with whom I had come in contact and I wanted to find ways to help people who had been in the similar position as my family. In my senior year of high school, my stepmother suggested, “How about being a nurse?” Without any hesitation, I said “Yes! That is exactly what I am going to do.”
Why did you choose St. Elizabeth School of Nursing?
I do much better in smaller environments where people know each other’s names, and where I can make eye contact with the instructor, raise my hand and ask questions. It was more of a personal experience for me, and that helped me to stay engaged more than I could have in a larger classroom, where one can get lost.
What is your fondest memory from nursing school?
One of my favorite memories was when several of us classmates would meet in the basement of the former building and we would have study sessions. The sessions were often intense as we were trying to learn challenging content. It was a great and authentic experience to get together and to learn from each other outside of the classroom.
I also enjoyed the rose ceremony during graduation. Family and friends had to endure many hours away from their soon-to-be nurse loved ones who were often intensely engaged with their studies. Oftentimes, students had to cut leisure time short or miss important events altogether. The rose ceremony was a pause to recognize and thank those whose love and understanding made it possible to get through the program. As many nursing students understand, their entire support system is impacted.
What advice would you give to a new nurse?
In nursing school, you wonder how you could ever fit anything more into your brain, and when you get into the field of nursing, you just have that much more to learn. Be humble and have the courage to ask questions. Everybody is new once, so never feel like you have to know it all, because you can't.
How did St. Elizabeth School of Nursing prepare you for your career?
St. Elizabeth School of Nursing has very high standards for its students, curriculum and tests. Everything is done at such a high caliber that when I came out of nursing school, I had that high caliber expectation for myself that carried on when I worked the floor and also now in my management role.
What was your first job in the field after you completed your degree?
I was a cardiac nurse.
What do you do now?
I am a nursing informaticist, and our department is Nursing Informatics, but we really have a hand in all of the various disciplines and ancillary departments in the hospital, not only nursing. We work with folks from dietary to environmental services to physicians to therapists and everyone in between because all play a role in the processes that provide our patients care. In order to make an improvement, you have to look beyond the specific process being reviewed and look at how it fits into the system as whole.
In informatics, we are called on for all sorts of work. A large part of our responsibility is to serve as a detective, and try and figure out where things are breaking down, and whether it's in the process or in the technology, or if it's education. Our role is to get in the weeds and figure out where we can make things better. The ultimate aim being that clinical technology users can make the best decisions, from the most reliable information, in the least amount of steps possible, and leverage all of that to provide the best possible patient care or services.
What do you like most about your current position?
I love being able to see things from a bird's eye view. I enjoy collaborating with various folks in the hospital to make differences that impact the care, the processes and the people who care for all of our patients every day. I also enjoy the fact that every day is different. I walk in and I have a general idea of what I am going to work on, but I love the part where we do not know what the next call for assistance is going to be. It keeps us all on our toes!
What is the toughest part about being a nurse?
Even six years out, I want to know everything all the time. It's inherent in nurses to want to know it all but you can’t. So you really have to learn to be a team, and work with other people who have strength in the areas that you have weakness.
How do you see yourself through the lens of the school's mission: Continuing Christ's Healing Ministry?
I think the mission relates to what I said about reducing unnecessary steps and giving our clinicians and other hospital staff the best information we can to make their experience the best possible, and to give them the tools that they need to do their job successfully.
What do you do when you are not at work?
I enjoy watching all types of sports (go Boilers!), hanging out with friends and attending comedy shows. I am also family oriented. I've been married to my supportive husband, Matt, for two and a half years. We recently bought our dream house and are now expecting our first child.
Is there anything more you want to want to say regarding your St. Elizabeth School of Nursing experience?
I’d like to say something for those nurses who are still trying to figure out where they want to be when they leave school. Some people go into nursing and they say, "I want to be a nurse, but I don't know where I want to be a nurse."
Nursing is multi-dimensional, and if you have a passion in nursing, but you also have a passion in technology, there's a place for that. If you have a passion in nursing and you have a passion in detective work, there's a place for that. If you have a passion for nursing and regulation and policy, there's a place for that. Informatics has taught me that there's a place for any kind of nurse with any type of interest – whatever their heart desires is where they can end up. Nursing is pretty amazing in that way.