As CNO at Morristown (N.J.) Memorial Hospital for the past 17 years, Patricia OKeefe, RN, MSN, NE-BC, has set the tone for excellence. Her administrative abilities and aptitude for recognizing effective nursing leaders within her organization has resulted in the hospital achieving Magnet status three times during her tenure.
[That] has been a highlight of my career, she said. Were moving toward our fourth.
OKeefes career at MMC began in 1981. She moved into the role of administrative director of an orthopedic surgical unit in 1987. Four years later, she added a step-down unit and the ICU to her duties. Subsequently, she was named director of inpatient surgical services before taking on her current role, where she is responsible for about 1,400 full-time employees in a multitude of clinical settings.
OKeefe has contributed to countless journal articles and made presentations at the American Nurses Credentialing Centers National Magnet Conference, the Nursing Leadership Congress and the Organization of Nurse Executives of New Jersey, among others. She has been recognized for her leadership abilities, including with a nomination for Modern Healthcare magazines Up and Comers Award, the ONE NJ Nurse Executive of the Year Award, and a New Jersey League for Nursing Administrator Award. In addition, she was the recipient of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jerseys Deans Award for Advancing the Profession of Nursing, along with a Nurse.com regional Nursing Excellence Award for Advancing and Leading the Profession.
A hospital culture that allows for an empowered staff is essential to quality care, and OKeefe said she has made her mark by advocating and cultivating a strong and motivated nursing workforce and allied health structure. Our professional accountable framework is shared governance, she said. We mentor our staff to embrace an empowered work environment and to be active in their profession.
Developing and maintaining this professional culture takes a great deal of leadership and cultivation at all levels of the organization, said OKeefe, who added she is grateful to have exceptional clinical staff who give their best daily.
I have the opportunity to lead an outstanding group of professional nurses and clinical staff, she said Every day I am humbled by the exceptional care they give to the patients in our healthcare system.
Tracey Boyd is regional reporter.
EDITORS NOTE: In recognition of the 25th anniversary of Nurse.com (Nursing Spectrum), the magazine will celebrate 25 key members of the New York/New Jersey nursing community in 2013.