From Nurse to Patient and Back Again
One Nurse's Passion Leads to "Mended Hearts" for Many
With a warm smile, kind eyes and a soft voice, Susan Murphy, RN, calmly
makes her way through the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation center
at CaroMont Regional Medical Center, greeting patients as they prepare
for their next class. The group that gathers, surrounded by treadmills
and elliptical machines, is there because each of them has experienced
and survived a cardiopulmonary event. They are there to try to build their
strength and stamina as they work to recover from a life-altering health
crisis. And the woman before them, who looks as though she would fit just
as well in front of a television camera, is exactly who you would want
to lead you on a tough journey, because she has been on quite the journey
of her own.
Over the course of her 30 years of nursing experience, 29 of which have
been at CaroMont Health, Murphy has had the opportunity to work in a variety
of clinical settings. Murphy graduated from Central Piedmont Community
College and started her nursing career at CaroMont Regional Medical Center
in 1988 caring for patients in Outpatient Surgery before moving to Endoscopy
and other units in the hospital.
Murphy’s nursing career has offered many opportunities for professional
growth and educational advancement. Realizing her long-time dream to go
back to school, Murphy received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in
February 2016 from Western Governors University. She has participated
in career ladder, a program that promotes education and personal development
for nurses, for several years, which also has provided her opportunities
to grow and expand nursing proficiencies across the continuum of care
and help shape her philosophy of care.
Murphy’s passion for working with patients in the rehabilitation
environment led her to the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Department.
It is in this current role that she is able to work with patients recovering
from heart attacks and heart surgeries through their progression through
the program. Patients complete several months of treatment plans tailored
to each individual’s medical needs to assist in recovery. Murphy
is with her patients every step of the way—from when they are at
their weakest to the day they “graduate.” It is truly a transformative
process that creates strong bonds with patients and has offered her many
inspiring stories along the way.
Building on her work with cardiac patients, Murphy was influential in starting
the Mended Hearts Chapter in Gastonia. Chapter 379 began in the fall of
2011 after CaroMont recognized a need for additional support for heart
patients. The Chapter quickly grew and became a chartered chapter in 2012
with 30 members and today, it has more than 100 members and 60 accredited
visitors who are former heart patients themselves. CaroMont Regional celebrated
being named the 2015 Mended Hearts Hospital of the Year. Murphy, along
with the Mended Hearts president, attended the National Mended Hearts
Conference in Orlando that year to receive the celebrated award on behalf
of the hospital and chapter.
“My nursing philosophy is that individuals should enter the profession
with an attitude of compassion and love for others,” said Murphy.
“We are here to make a difference in people’s lives not only
through our clinical expertise, but more importantly, with a compassionate
heart. Like other professions, nursing may challenge you at times and
requires a lot of patience, but, success is attainable if you are first
dedicated and you love what you do.”
Murphy also is an inspiration to others. In May 2014, she was diagnosed
with breast cancer. Her experience—dealing with the diagnosis, treatments
and surgeries—she says has provided her with a new outlook on caring
for others from the patient’s perspective.
“Through my cancer journey, I understand even more the importance
of showing compassion to others who are dealing with a sickness or diagnosis,”
said Murphy. “I believe I can better identify with others as a result
of my experience, which continues to inspire me to be a better person
and nurse for my patients.”
And a great nurse she is because just a few months ago, Murphy was recently
presented CaroMont Health’s most prestigious nursing honor, the
Nightingale Award. Representing superior contributions to the CaroMont
nursing program, the Nightingale Award is presented annually to one nurse
who has distinguished themselves through their professionalism, community
service and commitment to continuing education.
“I am proud to work at CaroMont Health, and consider it a great privilege
to work with some of the greatest people I know,” said Murphy. “Receiving
the Nightingale award came as a surprise. To be recognized in such a way
was truly an honor, especially knowing I was nominated by my peers.”
Each year, CaroMont Health bestows a number of nursing awards to exceptional
caregivers and has awarded 23 individuals with the Nightingale Award since
1993. With 1,082 registered nurses, CaroMont is the recipient of numerous
awards for quality care and service, including Magnet® designation,
the nation’s highest distinction for nursing excellence.