Education – both learning and teaching – is at the core of Megan Hartmeyer's approach to nursing.

The 2018 Clinical Excellence Award winner constantly strives to learn better strategies to help patients, while also acting as "an inherent teacher," generously sharing what she's learned – sometimes with anyone within earshot.

"In her day-to-day routine, Megan is constantly 'thinking out loud,' which provokes conversations and nursing education dialogue at our nurses' station," says Kristin Hill, a staff nurse who works with Megan at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

"For example, I can recall a time when she was giving a chart report about a difficult patient and their noncompliance with fall-prevention strategies. Of course, in regular Megan fashion, Megan begins pondering the 'what ifs' out loud.

"As we had this great discussion on fall prevention and handling difficult patients, I realize that there are many ears surrounding us. Several staff nurses and patient care associates are listening in and absorbing our conversation about the tricks that have been successful for us in the past to get 'patient buy-in' on fall-prevention strategies. This is a great example of how Megan impacts the nursing development of her colleagues and helps ensure that quality nursing care is delivered to our patients."

Tell us a little about yourself.

I graduated from Capital University with my bachelor's degree in nursing in May 2012. I worked at Riverside Hospital for three years during nursing school as a patient care associate on an orthopedic unit. During nursing school, I completed clinical rotations at a variety of hospital facilities in Columbus, including Nationwide Children's Hospital, St. Ann's Hospital, Riverside Hospital, and the Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

Where are you from originally and what led you to Ohio State?

I was born and raised in Zanesville, Ohio. While I pursued my nursing degree at Capital, I was one of only five students that had the opportunity to do a medical-surgical clinical rotation at The James. I really enjoyed the environment, the nurse-to-patient ratios and the patient population. I remembered that specific clinical rotation at the end of my senior year when I applied for a nursing position in The James nursing internship program.

What drew you to the field?

I have always enjoyed science and learning about the human body and decided I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. I decided on becoming a nurse when I shadowed a nurse practitioner in a family practice office and appreciated the relationship she had with each and every one of her patients. I am a people person and enjoy getting to know others and spending time interacting with the patients.

Where do you work and what type of patients do you work with?

I work in an inpatient medical-surgical oncology unit at The James. As a nurse on the 18th floor, I work with a wide variety of patient populations. Primarily, I care for thoracic surgery, orthopedic surgery, medical oncology, and any step-down (progressive care) patient.

How have you built relationships with patients and other providers?

I prioritize taking time getting to really know my patients. For example, where they are from, what do they do for a living, do they have family, what they enjoy doing in their free time. I also like to build a trusting and professional relationship with other providers. I try to achieve this by utilizing strong positive communication skills, and always being willing to listen and learn.

What's the most important aspect of your job?

The most important aspect of my job would be giving uninterrupted attention to my patients and their families while caring for them. I want patients to feel welcomed, safe and trusted. Being sick and admitted to the hospital is a very scary and vulnerable time for people. There is a lot of uncertainty, and nobody wants to actually be in the hospital. Therefore, I believe it is my job to make them feel welcomed, be honest and transparent with the information that I am aware of, and make certain they know they can ask anything and I will work hard to give them an answer.

Which of the medical center's core values do you most identify with and why?

I most identify with inclusiveness. I strive to work with all multidisciplinary teams to come together and work toward achieving the patient's specific goals. I value the diversity of the patients I care for and their different opinions. I respect each and every patient's needs as their own, not everyone has the same way of living and/or requests and I value listening and learning how to advocate/accommodate their specific requests with fairness.

How can others apply your winning skills or strategies?

I prioritize listening to my patients and their family members. I advocate for all of their needs with strong, open communication skills. I am not afraid to call physicians, social workers, case managers or other hospital departments to help provide any needs or answers my patients and their families may need.

Nonverbal communication is also important. I make sure to make good eye contact with my patients and take time to sit down next to them throughout the day during conversations.

I enjoy setting goals with my patients and working with them throughout my shift to attain those goals. I have found that it is not only rewarding for me but for the patients as well.

What's the most challenging part of your job? What's the most rewarding part?

The most challenging part of my job would have to be going from room to room where one patient could be extremely sick and my patient next door may be doing really well. Working on 18 James allows me to have a vast variety in the types of patients I care for, which is both challenging and exciting at the same time. I never have time to get bored or too comfortable. I am always learning new disease processes and treatment courses.

The most rewarding part of my job would be caring for a patient for consecutive days or shifts and seeing them get better and respond to the interventions I implemented in a positive manner.

Thank you, Megan, for Improving People's Lives!

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