Katherine Gillihan, R.N., BSN, CMSRN, (Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse), who has worked on Nursing Unit 6E for three years, has navigated an unusual career path to get to her present position. At 18, fresh out of high school, she looked to St. Clair Hospital, close to her Mt. Lebanon home, for gainful employment. She accepted a position in the Housekeeping Department on the night shift — a job that suited her well, as she soon enrolled in day classes to become a phlebotomist. The new job in the lab was ideal for “Katie” — it took her all over the Hospital and provided her with opportunities to watch and learn about health care career options. It didn’t take long for her to focus on nursing, and her flexible schedule in the lab enabled her to take the next step: acquiring an associate degree in nursing from Community College of Allegheny County. By then, Katie was a familiar face throughout the Hospital, known for her strong work ethic and upbeat personality.
Katie now has three years of bedside nursing experience on a unit where she cares for patients who have undergone major surgeries. She loves her work: “Every day is different; every patient is unique. On a surgical unit, things get fixed — the patient is most likely going to feel better, go home and go on to a better quality of life. It’s satisfying, but also challenging. People come to the Hospital for surgery, but they bring their comorbidities (two or more chronic diseases or conditions) with them and are often high-acuity (require intense nursing care) patients. They might have heart disease, diabetes or another chronic disease and have to be monitored for any signs of complications.”
Katie is one of the senior nurses on the night shift; she has achieved certification in medical-surgical nursing; and she has completed a baccalaureate degree program at California University of Pennsylvania. She is a strong proponent of nurses acquiring a BSN degree and she is appreciative of St. Clair’s exceptionally supportive policies to help nurses at the Hospital do so. “The more education nurses have, the better it is for the patient. And a BSN gives nurses even greater career choices. St. Clair encouraged me to get my degree and certification by offering incentives; my bosses here have made every step of my career ladder possible. St. Clair also offers excellent on-the-job education. Things change constantly — new technology, surgical procedures and concepts — and we have to stay abreast.”
“St. Clair encouraged me to get my degree and certification by offering incentives; my bosses here have made every step of my career ladder possible.”
Katie personifies some of the best qualities of nurses. Her personal nursing philosophy is a simple one: take care of your patient, first, and the rest will fall into place. Her colleagues have recognized her for the achievements she has reached in just a few short years as a nurse: she has been chosen by them as St. Clair’s recipient of the 2019 Cameos of Caring nomination. Cameos is a prestigious regional award that was created to honor exceptional bedside nurses. For Katie, it is made more meaningful by the fact that her co-workers chose her unanimously. “It was a complete surprise! Any one of the nurses I work with deserves this honor,” she insists. “My co-workers are amazing.”
Katie says her future might involve nursing informatics, a blend of nursing science and information management and analytical sciences. “I have a broad mindset because of my experience throughout the Hospital; that taught me that every job is important and every department matters. The interdisciplinary nature of nursing and the interdepartmental interaction at St. Clair unite us in a common mission — the care of the patient. That is the shining light that directs me every day.”
“The interdisciplinary nature of nursing and the interdepartmental interaction at St. Clair unite us in a common mission — the care of the patient.”
A rapid response call goes out overhead. It’s coded to the Hospital cue card; it’s known by heart. Whatever the patient needs, Michael G. Lane, R.N., Nurse Intensivist, is ready to answer the call.
“Intensivists are always available to help out on the floor with many things. From the Cardiac Cath Lab to interventional radiology, we’re here seven days a week to help make everyone’s job a little easier,” he said. Nurse Intensivist is a unique position that was created to aid the nurses and physicians in the acute care setting.
Mr. Lane began his career at St. Clair as a staff nurse on the surgical floor. Three years later, he transferred to the ICU on the day after 9/11. “The efforts made by people in New York were truly humbling. I will always remember that.” A profound sense of compassionate collaboration has been a driving force for Mr. Lane for more than two decades.
“I’m a big believer in teamwork and I could never do my job without the help of our physicians, respiratory therapists, nursing staff, physical and occupational therapists, dieticians, and more. They are all integral parts of our team in the ICU and throughout the Hospital.”
The former high school wrestler who still plays recreational indoor volleyball gets his steps in going from floor to floor and service line to service line equipped with arguably the world’s most advanced fanny pack.
“Our emergency point-of-care technology (EPOC) is really something. We’re able to draw blood and get actionable results in 30 seconds without having to send it to the lab, so we can triage the patient right there and know what we need to do, whether that means transferring them to the ICU or managing their case on the floor.”
Nasal swabs, probes, portable ultrasounds, and more put a robust suite of innovative life-saving diagnostic power right in the palm of Mr. Lane’s hands.
“During rapid responses, we help initiate stroke alerts. If somebody’s crashing, we can do an echocardiogram. If there’s a cardiac arrest, we can help get the needed access right at the femoral or jugular. Even moderate sedations—we’re trained in a wide variety of ways to answer the call.”
A lifelong resident of Castle Shannon, PA, Mr. Lane will celebrate his 24th anniversary at St. Clair Health in January. “The collaborative culture is what keeps me here—all the great work everyone comes together to do. I help them, but they really help me a lot, too.”
And in many ways, our 2005 Cameos of Caring® recipient feels like he’s still just getting started.
“My job is always exciting because our role is always evolving, and COVID certainly added to our intense perspective in treating patients with acute injuries. It’s been a privilege to watch the Hospital grow during my career, and I can’t wait to see what opportunities will present to expand our critical care capabilities in the future.”
Expert care from people who care. It’s more than our tagline — it’s the relentless drive we bring to carry out our mission every single day. Interested in joining the team? Follow St. Clair Health Careers on Facebook and LinkedIn or visit stclair.org.