Surrounded by God’s creation, Manchester, Kentucky is an oasis for individuals who love being outdoors and enjoy the scenic views of the Appalachian Mountains. Known as the “City of Hope”, Manchester has become home for AdventHealth Manchester’s newest Clinical Nursing Officer, Karen Bell.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, Karen always knew that serving others was her calling, finding it fulfilling to take care of others before herself. We had the pleasure of speaking with Karen for an exclusive Q&A on how her childhood penchant for helping others transformed into a career dream.
Q: Let’s start the conversation with the most sought-out question. Why did you want to become a nurse?
Bell: Serving others has always been a mission of mine. When I was a young child, I enjoyed taking care of my family, friends and pets. A key moment was when my grandfather became ill and was in the hospital. I always had a strong connection with him growing up and the day I saw him in the hospital I knew I wanted to help others during their most vulnerable moments and become a nurse.
When I entered high school, I joined allied health programs that gave me the opportunity to go to hospitals within our community, observe and build mentorships with their clinical staff. From there, I took my passion for serving others in studying nursing full-time at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. I later went to attain my Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Central Florida.
Q: Karen, I did some research before this conversation and noticed that you were previously the Director of Nursing at AdventHealth Orlando. If you don’t mind me asking, why make the move to Kentucky? What interested you to work there?
Bell: (laughs a little) No, no, no you’re not the only person who has asked that question. I’m a bedside Cardiac nurse at heart who loves everything cardiac critical care entails. Nursing is a fast-paced profession and being able to work at AdventHealth Orlando was always an adventure for me.
However, my father became very ill and I was traveling back in forth from my hometown to Orlando to be with him starting in August of 2017. I began praying constantly what God’s next step was for me and the CNO at Manchester opportunity opened. While my father was being taken care of, I was able to see some of the challenges that other healthcare systems were facing regarding patient experience, clinical care delivery and patient safety outcomes. This opportunity at Manchester was a blessing from God to serve a community in need of a care transformation to truly embody the holistic approach to medicine. My goal is to make it easy for our patients all while elevating clinical care for those patients and families going through what may be a difficult time.
Q: What have you found especially gratifying about your job?
Bell: Being able to support our team and our patients while making memorable moments serving others. I always reflect on my personal why story which is ultimately my personal mission statement to remind myself why I became a nurse.
What I find most rewarding about my career is the ability to provide support while empowering others. I’m a strong advocate in advancing our nursing practice. I’m passionate about helping the next generation of nurses and providing strong mentorships for them. Having a team of empowered leaders and clinical innovators are key drivers in care delivery and patient experience.
Q: On the flip side of that, what’s the most challenging part of your job?
Bell: The nursing shortage- a common challenge all healthcare organizations are facing in the United States. However, the rewarding piece of this challenge is to focus on team engagement and retention for those RNs working within the organization.
Q: Karen, can you describe the culture at AdventHealth Manchester?
Bell: The culture is fully focused on our mission, vision, and values. Our team members live each service standard not only to our patients but within each other. We're hands-on learners, team builders, and we're all in! The one team approach is evident- we're here for the purpose of extending the healing ministry of Christ. It's very palpable that our patients are our biggest advocates. I'm so grateful for this team!
Q: Based on your experience, what would your advice be to a nurse just beginning their career in nursing leadership?
Bell: Be open, energetic and willing to challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Seek out a mentor to help guide you and support your growth journey. The important part is to make sure you list out your short- and long-term goals, create a plan and be willing to ask for help in achieving them. One of the best parts about working at AdventHealth is the opportunities that are here- it’s up to you to engage in them!
Q: With that said, what does ‘whole care’ mean to you?
Bell: My life story. Living through my own healthcare experience with my grandfather and most recently my father. When I think of whole care, it’s not just the clinical side. Whole care is caring for each patient like they are your own. Encouraging them, empathizing and building connections to create a foundation of trust. It’s also very important to extend the care to their families and understanding their needs. That to me embodies whole care.
Q: Let’s close out with a slightly different question. What was your first job?
Bell: I was a babysitter a good portion of my teen and college years. As a teen, I thought for sure I wanted to study pediatric nursing because I had so much experience with children. It wasn’t until my time in college where I had an opportunity to do bed-side nursing on the cardiac unit that I found a love for it. Cardiac is a silent disease especially in women and I had a personal connection because of my family. So naturally, I wanted to grow in that field.
To join the AdventHealth Manchester team, click here to view job opportunities!