Creating competence and confidence

Margaret Graham
Vice Dean and Associate Professor, College of Nursing

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Margaret Graham, vice dean and associate professor of the College of Nursing, has been instrumental in developing flexible working schedules for nurses at Ohio State.

Margaret Graham, a 2016 Ohio State Glass Breaker, knows the value of seeking information, whether clarifying and resolving an issue or reaching out to a mentor for specific advice.

This year, the President and Provost’s Council on Women recognizes five faculty and staff members whose efforts have improved workplace culture for women at Ohio State: They are Ohio State Glass Breakers.

Buckeye Voices presents question-and-answer interviews with each extraordinary honoree. Margaret Graham, vice dean and associate professor for the College of Nursing, has spent her career championing health policies that relate to advanced practice nurses including a flexible work policy.

Q. What advice do you have for other women seeking leadership roles?

A. If you are interested in a leadership role, you should pursue one. Volunteering for leadership positions is a great way to become experienced leading groups. You may wish to run for office or serve as a committee chair within the institution or for a professional group at the local, state or national level.

Once you determine the leadership role you are most interested in, learn as much as possible about the role and the skills needed to ensure your competence and confidence in the role. Identify people who can serve as trusted mentors for you and do not hesitate to ask for their advice and assistance. Be vigilant about getting the answers to the information you do not have.

Q. Have you faced any challenges or bypassed any obstacles?

A. Anyone in a leadership role and anyone who works as staff or faculty for a university has faced challenges. When facing a challenge or when running into an obstacle, try to get as much information as possible about the situation. Get input from all parties. Give the information thoughtful consideration and make a plan to overcome the challenges or obstacles. If time allows, try to get buy-in from all involved prior to implementing the plan.

Q. Please share your experience with creating a flexible work policy for the College of Nursing staff. How did you help establish a nurse-led inter-professional clinic in east Columbus?

A. We are blessed to have outstanding faculty and staff in the College of Nursing who are committed to our students’ educational process, conducting state-of-the-art research, doing evidence-based practice and providing service locally, statewide, nationally and internationally.

There is great demand for nurses and the talents of other employees in our college. Generally, salaries for nursing faculty are not competitive with nurses in practice. Providing employee opportunities for flexible working conditions whenever possible is one way we have to reward the outstanding workforce in the College of Nursing.

Historically, nursing faculty are able to work from home when not in class or performing student-related activities, doing committee work or practicing. Depending on their position and productivity, staff members are allowed to work from home one day a week.

The staff must have a signed agreement from their direct report on file and they must be available through phone and other forms of electronic communication. In most situations, we find staff can be most productive when given the opportunity to have uninterrupted time for their tasks, and working from home usually offers this uninterrupted time.

In 2012, College of Nursing received funding from the Health Resources Services Administration to start a nurse practitioner-led inter-professional clinic. Through this funding opportunity, we started the Ohio State Total Health & Wellness center, which provides primary care for people of all ages.

The center is located in the Ohio State East Hospital, and people from the community, university employees and people who work in the downtown area use this center for their primary care and psychological needs. The center became a primary care medical home in 2013, an indication of the high-quality care provided in the center. Patient satisfaction with care provided in the center also ranks high.

The center’s staff includes primary care nurse practitioners, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, a pharmacist, social worker, counselor, dietitian and an RN case manager. Patients who have depression, hypertension, hyperlipidemia or diabetes are offered the opportunity to be managed using the TEAMcare model of care delivery, and we have had excellent outcomes.

The center offers opportunities for health care professional students from nursing, medicine, pharmacy, social work and dietetics to practice delivering care as a team, and this is a very popular rotation for the students.

The development of the clinic required support from many units from the university, and we had wonderful support from Ohio State Department of Family Medicine.

Q. What tips and advice would you give to women to ensure they succeed professionally and reach their goals?

A. Maintain integrity in all that you do. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Take advantage of every educational opportunity available to you. Establish long-term and short-term goals including paths to reach the goals. Listen to all around you. Keep balance in your life. Laugh frequently.

Q. What’s next for you?

A. Right now, I am very fulfilled by serving as vice dean in the College of Nursing. We have a very supportive administrative team, faculty who are creative and innovative, staff who are committed to our mission and outstanding students.

I have the opportunity to teach and practice, two things that give me great professional satisfaction. I hope to stay in this role until retirement. After retirement, I hope to continue working part-time as a nurse practitioner while practicing and perfecting my role as a grandmother.

Read more about Margaret Graham's career path to the leadership position she holds.

About the author

Margaret Graham
Margaret Graham -
Vice Dean and Associate Professor, College of Nursing

Margaret Graham is an expert nurse practitioner, who has been educating students on nursing and health policy for more than 30 years. Certified as both a family and pediatric nurse practitioner, she teaches at the graduate level and practices one day a week with Ohio State Department of Family Medicine.


Buckeye Voices — Commentary from The Ohio State University