Success stories: MSN for Registered Nurses Online program - Liam Malpas
Liam is currently a Clinical Operations Manager for Kaiser Permanente in Washington and manages four medical specialty clinics: Cardiology, Neurology, Rheumatology and Pulmonary medicine. He graduated from the RN-MSN Online program at USF in 2017 and we wanted to hear about his USF story and what he was up to now.
How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve been working in healthcare for over 10 years, but have only been in nursing for the last 3 years. I have had a range of jobs prior to nursing, from an admissions rep in an emergency department to doing marketing and government relations; but I always kept being drawn to the clinical side and working with nursing. It was when I was working with some oncology nurses and they encouraged me to get my degree in nursing; so that is when I started my journey! After I finished my ADN undergraduate program, I moved to San Francisco where I started working in an urgent care clinic. It was a small clinic, and I quickly became frustrated with how the clinic was run and the operational issues that got in the way of providing the care that I wanted to give to my patients.
I realized that although I was good at identifying the problems, I wasn’t so good at solving them. That was when I took a step back and reflected on my own strengths and weaknesses and wanted to get more education in this area. I wanted to know how you could look a problem, break it apart, find the best solution and then put it into practice. At this point I could have just carried on to get my BSN, but I decided to get ahead of the game and get my MSN. The USF program spoke to everything I enjoyed the most and got the most satisfaction from, which is quality improvement. The online format also gave me the flexibility to carry on working and to travel, which is a passion of mine.
This brought me to taking on my first leadership role, here at Kaiser Permanente and I’ve also enrolled on to a DNP program to advance my clinical knowledge.
Why did you choose USF?
While I was living in San Francisco I became familiar with the university as I would see advertisements around the city for the university and the nursing programs. Then when I started doing my research for the specific program, which included universities from across the country, USF consistently came up as a top choice based on other students recommendations and the way that the online structure worked. I wanted to make sure I would have flexibility and I actually completed the last year of the program in London whilst working over there.
What’s a typical day for you?
As a Clinical Operations Manager, I am responsible for the daily operations of the teams in the specialty clinics in preparation for the patients that seek care from us. I function on many different levels, form working with my direct reports to other leaders and physicians. I receive updates from my teams about what is going on and what do we need to be doing to make sure we are taking care of our patients. As well as working with my team, I partner with a physician for the running of each clinic.
I also liaise with other leaders from different functions, such as pharmacy, emergency and physical therapy to understand what potential issues could cause problems and what we do to fix them. In addition, I assess safety reports to figure out what went wrong and what can we implement to prevent this from happening again; this is where my learnings from the program has really helped me.
What would be the top 3 learning outcomes from the program that have made a difference to your everyday job?
The main learning outcome that makes a difference to my job is the integration of Evidence Based Practice. It could be something such as; there’s a shortage of a particular drug, what do we do about it? Or, a doctor wants to proceed in a different way and I’m able to look at the literature to either support that decision or suggest a different method. Financial resource management is another important learning for me as I’m responsible for $3.5 million budget across the clinics. For example, I am able to assess the capacity of my team and then know how to write a Return of Investment to put a case forward for additional staff.
Finally, the leadership aspect of the program has helped me manage my team, enabling me to bring different health professions together effectively, creating bonds and dialogue between colleagues.
Has anything changed for you since completing your degree?
This program has definitely helped my progression in my career. I would say that having my Masters has made me a stand out candidate when applying for the role I’m in now. Being able to talk to the core principles of the program with the leaders that I met during the hiring process showed the unique perspective that I could bring to the position and set me apart from others.
How did you complete your practicum hours?
My practicum was less traditional than others who were on the program. This is because I did my practicum in different settings than where I was working at the time. I decided to do this because I wanted exposure to a variety of workplaces. I worked with my advisor and the school provided assistance in finding practicum site contacts. At one point, I was able to work with a General Practitioner in London in order to complete my hours.