May 2017 – Shelly McGurk

Leadership by example is always one of the best strategies for inspiring others to do their best work. And because compassionate care for in-patients is a primary goal of providers on 4 Roy Carver, that makes Hospitalist ARNP Shelly McGurk one of the team’s most effective leaders.

Originally from Blue Grass, Iowa, a town situated about halfway between Muscatine and Davenport, Ms. McGurk decided in high school on nursing as a career. When her father had a heart attack in front of her in high school, she admired the “calm and efficient” nurses who took care of him. “They knew exactly what to do. I wanted to be able to do that.”

But Ms. McGurk did not stop at one degree, quickly pursuing her Master’s degree, becoming a Nurse Practitioner while continuing to work in intensive care settings, focusing mainly on cardiovascular medicine. Once that degree was earned, Ms. McGurk did not have far to look to find her ideal job at the University of Iowa. “It was cardiology, in the acute setting. I’ve been here ever since.”

Finding the perfect job has not meant that Ms. McGurk has been coasting these last six years. Instead she is very nearly finished with her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. The focus of her dissertation has been the implementation at Iowa of FDA guidelines for performing MRIs on patients with certain types of pacemakers. For decades, pacemakers could not come anywhere near an MRI machine. But changes in technology about six years ago made some devices “MR conditional” under very specific circumstances involving evaluation and programming intervention before and after the procedure.

Ms. McGurk has worked with another DNP in the Electrophysiology Lab, Eileen Yeisley, DNP, to initiate the program at Iowa, creating documentation templates, checklists, measuring device parameters before and after the procedure. “Now I’ve started reviewing the numbers.” Once her analysis is compete and they have proved the program is safely and consistently applied “with no changes to the device,” Ms. McGurk will have passed another major milestone in her career.

McGurk - May 2017And all that is in her free time. Her day job finds her working on 4RC, helping manage the care of the by-now-standard high volume of acute inpatients, in addition to developing a standardized on-boarding process for new nurse practitioners joining the team. Ms. McGurk and her team have designed a series of timetables to track new member progress, and she schedules weekly and monthly meetings with each to carefully integrate them into the team. “We want to make sure that they’re getting their questions answered, what they need from us and us from them.”

And those team members value what they get from Ms. McGurk. Another Cardiovascular Medicine Hospitalist, ARNP Kevin McGrane, says, “Shelly is an excellent lead. She never shies from a task and is always willing to lend a hand where help is needed.” Hospitalist Administrator Eric Linson sees her as critical to building the program. “She provided leadership in a time when it was greatly needed.” Mr. Linson cites her work with new providers and her ability to “build trust with them so that their voice is also valued.”

That urge to care and establish rapport animates Ms. McGurk even when away from work. She volunteers for Last Hope Animal Rescue, fund-raising, helping at adoption events, and even doing some occasional fostering of her own. And when she and her husband aren’t caring for a dog in need, they like to travel on golfing trips or attend Hawkeye games. We are grateful for Ms. McGurk’s compassion and leadership in the department.

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