2011 Superhero of Nursing: Judy McHugh Named the Validator!

Clearly, Judy McHugh’s continuing quest for quality improvement, spawned by a patient incident early in her nursing career, is what drives her. Judy is the recipient of one of four Mosby’s Superheroes of Nursing Awards announced at the 2011 ANCC National Magnet Conference®. She was named “The Validator” for her ability to lead the way to quality, excellence, and accreditation.

When nominating Judy, Associate Chief Nurse Executive Debbie Jasovsky, PhD, described her as an innovator and leader. “Judy doesn’t stop with the end of a project,” Dr. Jasovsky wrote. “She just looks for a new one to take its place.”

When Judy learned of the nomination, she was surprised. “I had to read the email twice,” she says. ”I was honored and humbled. So many nurses here are superheroes. I was the lucky one to be chosen.”

Judy is the Nursing Performance Improvement Coordinator at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, a member of Trinity Health. She is also NDNQI site coordinator and chairs several nursing quality committees. Her nursing career began 27 years ago. She always knew she wanted to work in health care. She started out as a certified medical assistant, but found she wanted more patient contact. After going on to complete nursing school, she worked as a cardiac nurse and then moved on to a telemetry unit. 

Throughout her career, she has remembered a 70-year-old male patient that she cared for as a young nurse. “When I left his room to get some supplies, his side rails were up and everything was safe,” she explains. When she returned, he was on the floor. Luckily he wasn’t injured, but it was a pivotal incident for her. It made her think about what she could have done differently, and it was the seed that blossomed into her career in quality improvement. When an opportunity to work on quality monitoring and environmental surveys came along, Judy’s hand went up. She has worked in quality improvement ever since.

The Room of Horrors 

Among Judy’s many notable accomplishments is what she calls the “Room of Horrors,” which was first staged several years ago to help nurses identify safety hazards. 

“We set up some horrible scenes and asked the nurses questions about what they observed.” Judy says. Every year, they’ve created a different presentation, including an electronic version and later a video. 

Judy also led in the development of an education cart to help prepare for Loyola’s Magnet survey. The cart was taken to nurses on the units so education could come to them if they were unable to attend a program. She also worked with IT to set up a Nursing Quality Dashboard to house nurse sensitive indicator data. Loyola nurses can access their core measures and see how they’re trending.

Mentoring is Most Rewarding

Judy believes that her greatest achievement has been mentoring other nurses. “I’ve mentored nurses who went on for their master’s degrees. Another went on to become a DNP candidate,” she says. She is grateful to the nurses who mentored her and encouraged her to become a nurse. 

“Now I have mentors at Loyola,” she says. “I value listening and encouraging others to discover themselves whether I’m the mentor or someone else is doing that for me.” In addition to mentoring, Judy relies on evidence-based information and continuing education opportunities to keep her skills sharp. 

“It’s a life-long journey,” she says.” “You never stop learning.” 

She also takes advantage of the many opportunities to connect with available nursing resources and with other quality organizations and she connects with other nurses via Mosby’s Facebook. Loyola also uses ENA: Emergency Nursing Orientation from Mosby’s eLearning for orientation. To continue her professional development, Judy is working on becoming certified.

When asked what makes a nurse an exceptional leader, Judy responds, “Someone who listens, who is present, trustworthy, and approachable.” She also puts a high value on the ability to think innovatively. 

“When nurses come to me with a problem, I always try to think outside the box. My motto is ’Let’s try it,’” she says.

Join us over the next few months as we celebrate those nurses who go above and beyond every day to move their organizations forward. Learn more at confidenceconnected.com/mosbysheroes.

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