Patients at the Center

Margaret Pearce, Ph.D., R.N. Chief Nursing Officer. University of Utah Health Care


I took care of adolescent leukemia patients for eight years. And that's a really difficult thing to do. I cannot tell you that it was less difficult for me on the last day than it was on the first day.

I was taught that gradually you become less sensitive to the patient situation if you take care of patients in desperate situations. I found that to be totally untrue.

The purpose of healthcare is to make a person as healthy as possible. And if that is perfect health, great. There are times in people's lives when that's no longer possible, but to keep them at their highest functioning level, and as happy as they can be for as long as possible. The goal of health care is not just to do that, but to find out what that means for the patient, and do that.

I see all of these things as an opportunity, and how do we take the situation we're in, and help turn it into something that's really great. When we talk about patient experience for example, the patient has a head injury doesn't think of patient experience in the same way as a mother who has just given birth. You can't have a formula for the whole hospital. Everybody does it differently.

What we do here at nursing is we have the right people, and that's not easy. We have to hire people who've got a passion for what they're doing.

We started out with a top down approach, and of course that doesn't work, and I know that doesn't work. So what we said was you take care of patients everyday, you know what your patients need, and I know that you want to make the best possible care that we can for them. Tell me what the barriers are, and my job is to remove the barriers so that you can provide that kind of care for your patient everyday.

I don't dictate anything. I don't tell people what they have to do. I tell them what the goal is, I try to inspire them that the goal is worthy, and then I ask them to think through what's the best option for their staff, and their patients. Then that's how we get all of our innovation.

Most of the things that we do, I had no idea that that's the way it's going to come out. I'm always thrilled to death to see what they come up with. They come up with some fabulous ideas that I never would have thought of. It's imperative that the patient is at the front of all of our conversations. It's all for the patient.