Susan Murray, MS, RN

Senior Care Manager of Clinical Informatics, Internal Medicine of Brighton
Clinical Nurse Leader, 2019 Graduate

"I still feel like I won the lottery by graduating not once but twice from University of Rochester. Being an alumni of the UR School of Nursing, felt like an impossibility when I was growing up. Anything really is possible. I am so proud to call SON, home."

 Susan Murray

What is your nursing background?

After graduating from the Accelerated Program for Non-Nurses, I went to work on 4-1200 Hospice/Palliative. For just shy of five years, I had the enormous gift of helping patients and families through some of the most difficult times in their lives. It was a true blessing to help patients have peaceful, respectful deaths. 

From there I was offered an amazing opportunity to work in the community as a care manager, for Accountable Health Partners (AHP).  I was ready for a new challenge and needed to not be surrounded by so much sorrow. There is an emotional burden that goes along with being a hospice nurse and it is important to read the signs of when it is time to move on. 

I have been at Internal Medicine of Brighton for just over three years. In January of 2019, I received my promotion to Senior Care Manager of Clinical Informatics. 

What was your experience as a School of Nursing student?

There are two pivotal moments regarding the SON, which hold a special place in my heart. 

In my early 40s I had completed all the nursing prerequisites, filled out the application for the accelerated program, and carefully constructed my essay example. There were 368 applications submitted and only 53 places available. Waiting for the answer to come in the mail was driving my anxiety to push into overdrive.

I was in Pam Iadarola’s office droning on about how the wait was taxing my heart, when she said “hmmm, I know Nancy Kita who works in the admissions office, would you like me to call her?”… What!!  Yes, Yes, Yes…. Please call. Pam called Nancy and they discussed my specific angst and Nancy said… “Have Susan call me”. 

My hands were shaking and I was very afraid a tear may run down my leg, but I called. Nancy told me that I had been accepted into the program. That feeling of hearing those words, were like nothing I had ever experienced before. I just remember thinking… “little Susie Rowntree is going to University of Rochester, School of Nursing, who would have ever believed that!”  That day changed my life forever.

The second moment was very early in my career at Internal Medicine of Brighton, when I met Tobie Olsan. As the current program director, she came to my office to tell me about the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) program. We had a great conversation which ended in her inviting me to apply to the CNL-DNP program. She ended our talk with offering a 100 percent scholarship to the CNL-DNP program as a pilot project with SON and AHP.

For a lifelong learner, I felt like I had just won the lottery to hear that someone believes in me enough to pay for my education. This faith in me is why I worked to the best of my ability through all of my classes. I wanted to make sure that I showed Tobie and Daryl that I was worth the risk. I wanted to make sure they were proud of me.

What made you want to apply to the CNL program?

A Clinical Nurse Leader is a problem solver on the systems level. They identify an issue, refer to the literature and build a process intended to improve the issue. The CNL takes theory, data, and clinical knowledge to design a protocol that can be rolled out clinically, which brings evidence-based interventions to the bedside. CNL’s design the critical steps of change, evaluate and identify key components and then test the effectiveness of the implemented change. 

The best part of being a CNL is that you get to step outside the norm and creatively combine research, technology, and clinical knowledge. As a blossoming field, we are writing the CNL role as we go, empowering other colleagues to grow, and embraced for novelty of our new ideas. 

Tell us about your CNL capstone project: A Patient Centered Pilot: An Intervention Bundle to Promote Adult Self-Management of Type 2 Diabetes.

I chose this project because it is reflective of what I do in my daily work life. When I initially interviewed for the care manager position at Internal Medicine of Brighton (IMB), their biggest concern was with their diabetic population. Coming from hospice/palliative floor in the hospital, my strengths were not in diabetes. I assured them that I was a quick study and I would make learning more about diabetes my top priority. Hence, the project on diabetes was born.

The physicians all supported me during my learning curve and allowed me to be creative in incorporating new interventions. For example: I tried a diabetic eat (a play on the term “diabetic teach”) I made a bunch of delicious food that was perfectly balanced with protein and carbohydrates. Often, I would bring foods that a patient may never had or think they don’t like it. I still use this technique with some of my patients that struggle stepping outside of their lifelong diet.   

Diabetes is one of the metrics which is tied to a year end incentive for providing quality care.  The practices that I was working closely with, started seeing reduction in diabetic patients who had elevated HbA1c levels, which increase the risk of complications.  This was the start of my capstone project.

Plans after graduation?

I am hoping to publish the findings from my capstone project and continue to disseminate a diabetic protocol across the network with fidelity. 

I will continue to work at IMB and support five amazing physicians, that have helped shaped the care that I provide. I waited a really long time to find a job that I love, and I can say that I love my job.  I have been fortunate in my life and one of the best gifts I have received is having a position where I can positively impact patients, families, physicians, and nurses. It feels so good, at the end of a day to know that I helped someone and often many. This is the most rewarding job I have ever had.

I also will be submitting an abstract of my project to present at the next CNL seminar. This is based on the strong recommendation of CNL Program Director Luis A. Rosario-McCabe.

Advice for future students in the CNL program?

I would give prospective students a warning. You need to be prepared that when you finish this program you will be transformed at the end. Who you are today, will not be who you are when you graduate. You will approach challenges in a completely different way after completing the CNL tract. Be prepared to develop innovative solutions to new and old health care challenges.  You will be sculpted into a leader during your education by some of the best professors in the business. You will experience enormous growth which will transform you as a provider and a leader. 

I have experienced all of this personally. 

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