Becoming a Nurse Leader in the OR

by: Joshua Ast, BSN, RN, CNOR
Nurse Manager, Surgical Services
Methodist Richardson Medical Center 

I was destined to work in healthcare. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had this desire to help others. My mom set the example as a radiology tech and my interest in science fueled my passion to pursue a healthcare career. But, as I’ve discovered, even if you know what you want to do, you can’t be sure where fate is going to lead you.

I decided to join the Navy when I was 18 because I felt that would give me the opportunityJoshua AstFB to pursue my goal. I completed surgical tech school in Bethesda, Maryland, and spent three years overseas. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2005, and in 2010, I joined Methodist Richardson Medical Center as a nurse in the operating room. As soon as my training was finished in March 2011, I was immediately deployed by the Navy to serve as a critical care nurse in Afghanistan. I returned to Methodist Richardson in December 2011.

The idea of being a leader had never really occurred to me. That’s when fate stepped in and my director suggested that I participate in the Methodist Health System Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). The program is designed to provide leadership training to future leaders of the organization. I’m so fortunate that my nurse manager and my director recognized my potential and encouraged me to enter the program. When I completed the ELP course, they took a chance and offered me the position of nurse manager of surgical services. This not only tested me, it also provided me with the opportunity to put what I had learned in the leadership program into practice.

Filled with confidence, I set my next career goal — becoming a certified perioperative nurse. Even though it wasn’t required, I personally felt that someone in my position needed to have this credential. Thanks to Methodist’s Clinical Advancement Program that includes tuition reimbursement, I passed the exam and obtained the credentials.

Even though the OR can be a pretty serious place, I’ve learned that people tend to listen to me more when I relate with them and don’t take myself too seriously. The idea of having fun with your job is an outgrowth of the thing I really love about my work — the feeling of family here at Methodist Richardson. You don’t find that everywhere. This is the one place where, for the first time in 20 years, I actually look forward to coming to work every morning.

I believe in having a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the OR. While my administrative duties are important, the OR and my staff come first. Every great leader I’ve had in my career has led by example, so I choose to follow in their footsteps by providing an example to my staff. What advice do I give to new employees? Whatever you do, strive to be the very best at what life presents to you.

If you’ve decided to be the best you can be, consider Methodist Health System. Visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System
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