Adult ED Nurse Finds Dream Career at St. Mary's

Margaret Steele made the decision to grow her nursing career at St. Mary's and never left

Margaret Steele, Adult ED, St. Mary's Medical Center

Our-Stories-MargaretNineteen years ago, Margaret Steele had no idea that she would be where she is today in her career. After spending a year working for St. Mary's Medical Center as a per diem nurse, and as an ICU nurse at another hospital in Palm Beach County, she immediately knew that St. Mary's was the place where she wanted to work.

"Working for St. Mary's has been the most interesting and rewarding career that I've ever had," says Margaret.

Margaret began her career with St. Mary's in 1996 in the ER. She was the youngest nurse on her unit at the time. "The patients, the staff and the lessons learned while being on staff here have been invaluable," Margaret reflects.

After a short time at St. Mary's, Margaret was aching to grow her nursing career and decided to apply for a full-time trauma RN position with St. Mary's. She transferred into that role in 1997.

Throughout her time as a staff nurse, Margaret had invaluable experiences.

"You get a different view of humanity after being in this department for a long time," she says. She has seen physicians and nurses personally impacted by cases involving catastrophic injuries, resulting in patients arriving near death or even dying. "It kind of wears you down a little bit because you often see patients suffer the worst days of their lives with horrible consequences, but the rewarding work and great impact you have on patients and their families is what drives you."

In 2014, St. Mary's was designated by the state of Florida as a Level I Trauma Center. As one of nine Level I Trauma Centers in the state, St. Mary's serves as a resource to Level II Trauma Centers, pediatric trauma centers and other hospitals by providing trauma research, community outreach, education and quality improvement initiatives.

"I think the Level I designation was a great achievement because it validates the expertise in trauma services we have provided this community for 25 years," says Margaret. "We have always functioned at a high level for our trauma patients, and it is nice to be recognized for the work we do, and for the support and dissemination of knowledge we provide."

Today, Margaret is the Adult Emergency Department nurse manager where she thoroughly enjoys being in leadership. Before she began working on the leadership side of nursing, she felt that she reached a level of expertise and knew much of what there was to know about nursing, making it the perfect time to transition into leadership. "I had hands-on clinical experience for the first 15 years at St. Mary's Medical Center," she says.

"I thought that I had worked my way up to the pinnacle of my career."

"Regardless of the circumstances when a patient entered the ED, I could do whatever it took to care for them. I was great at advanced life support; I could assist at the highest level of trauma surgical care." Her leadership role has also given her the opportunity to learn and grow in a whole new arena.

Margaret now enjoys working on the business side of her nursing career because she can relate to her nurses and explain things to them from both sides. She can also have a great impact on the community by improving emergency care for all patients needing emergency services.

Margaret strives to be a teacher and mentor to the nurses on the unit because she has experienced what it is like to be the "newbie" and move from novice to competent to expert in the nursing field.

Her advice to new grads and nurses is: "You always have to learn. You can never think that you know everything or understand everything because each case is different."