Q & A with Kathy Tuttle, Director of Nursing, Memorial Medical Center

Kathy Tuttle, Director of Nursing, Memorial Medical Center

Kathy Tuttle
Director of Nursing, Memorial Medical Center

What does the director of nursing do?

In her Notes on Nursing (circa1859), Florence Nightingale said this about nursing leadership.  “Let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in her head (not, how I can always do the right thing myself, but) how can I provide for this right thing to always be done.”   A century and half later, this still holds true.

The Director of Nursing is responsible to ensure the care delivered by the nursing staff (RNs, LPNs, Nursing Assistants and Orderlies, Health Unit Coordinators, OR Techs) meets the highest acceptable standard and that all regulatory requirements are met.   To support that, I must effectively work to secure resources: an adequate number of skilled staff along with supplies and equipment to provide care in a safe and effective manner.   I, along with nursing staff, work within an interdependent team of physicians and other healthcare professionals that provides for the best possible outcome for our patients and their families.

When a patient comes to MMC, what information should they bring?

It is important to bring a list of current medications; bring the actual medicine bottles if possible.   Always be an active participant in your care; ask questions, seek information, let us know when we slip into ‘medical talk’ and say something you may not understand.  We want to always listen carefully to you and explain things in ways you understand.

What are three questions patients should consider asking during their visit?

  • What are my medications for and how do I take them safely?
  • What can I do differently to improve my health?
  • What do I need to do when I leave the hospital; do I have any special instructions or restrictions?

What is the largest misconception you think patients have about nurses?

Nursing has changed over time. The days of doing everything for the patient have long passed.   Now a nurses’ caretaking role is to help each person achieve their highest possible level of functioning. Often this means encouraging patients to be independent, to do for themselves what they can.

The education and training required of a registered nurse is extensive; learning and training never end for a nurse.  Out of school, a graduate nurse has a beginning set of skills. Patricia’s Benner’s book, “From Novice to Expert” articulates the journey of a developing the skills to become an expert professional nurse; it takes time, training, and experience.   Along that path, you learn both the Art and the Science of Nursing.  The Art of Nursing is built around caring, compassion and empathy; meeting the person where they are, listening with understanding, using touch in therapeutic ways.   It is the human, personal side of Nursing.   The Science of Nursing is built around advanced understanding of how the human body works, when it fails and the interventions to guide patients to wellness. It uses evidenced based practice models and research to provide up-to-date, quality care.

It is a privilege to be a nurse. The opportunity to give direct, purposeful, and personal care at a critical time in the life of an individual is a unique characteristic of nursing.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give patients to improve their overall health?

Exercise.   Research shows that exercise, as little as walking 30 minutes three times a week, helps your physical and psychological well-being in profound ways.