Nursing: A Career Path of Potential
“Crozer Health Saw Something in Me.” Christine Mendez, Crozer Health’s Chief Nurse Executive, Shares Her Wisdom With the Next Generation of Nurses
Christine Mendez, MSN, Crozer Health’s chief nurse executive, is approaching her 32-year anniversary within the health care system. From kitchen dietician to registered nurse, Christine remembers the moments of meaning throughout her career that keep her committed to nursing every day.
Now, as a health care leader, she aspires to mentor the next generation of passionate nurses by keeping them connected to the personal fulfillment gained from quality patient care.
The Progression From Kitchen Dietician to Registered Nurse
Christine grew up with her family in Ridley Park, just a few miles away from Crozer Health. She felt inspired to become a nurse by listening to her sister’s stories when she returned home from her hospital shifts. Excited to pursue her career early, Christine accepted her first position at Crozer Health’s Taylor Hospital as a kitchen dietician in the summer of 1990 while still in high school. As soon as she graduated from high school, she enrolled in Neumann University to pursue her Bachelor of Science degree. While there, she was encouraged to shadow team members on the hospital floor as a nurse extern.
Quickly, Christine fell in love with helping patients through their health recovery. From creating deep patient connections to delivering clinical expertise effectively, nursing proved to be a fulfilling career path. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Christine became a registered nurse at Taylor Hospital and succeeded quickly in the role due to her vast prior experience.
Career Development into Health Care Leadership
Within a few years, Crozer Health recognized Christine’s natural leadership abilities, adept care for her patients, and commitment to the team. Impressed by these admirable qualities, Crozer Health invited her to become the clinical director of her unit at Taylor Hospital.
Although Christine never imagined herself in management because of her passion for bedside nursing, she was touched by her team’s recognition of her leadership potential. Eventually, she accepted the role and embraced the challenges that came with career development. Simultaneously, she decided to pursue her Master of Science in Nursing at Walden University to sharpen her skillset.
Through quality mentorship by other leaders in the health care system, Christine continued to advance in leadership until she was offered the role of senior administrative director of nursing, overseeing both Taylor and Springfield Hospitals. After showing continued leadership potential, Christine accepted the position she holds today: Crozer Health’s chief nurse executive for the entire system. Throughout her career, she has valued the culture of mentorship and career development at Crozer Health.
Health Care Leadership During the Pandemic
Daily, Christine feels rewarded by the care and commitment that her team shows to their patients. As the health care environment has become increasingly stressful during the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been encouraged by her team members’ willingness to show up ready to ensure that their patients receive the highest-quality care. Christine’s role during this challenging time has been to offer the same level of attention to her team members, providing resources to help them focus on their own self-care inside and outside of the hospital.
By offering free meals for staff during shift hours, boxed meals to take home to their families, hotel accommodations to reduce exposure, as well as increased salary and benefits packages, Christine has been supporting her team so that they are prepared to meet patient needs.
Self-Care for Career Sustainability in Nursing
Christine’s own self-care is centered on a practice of reflection every day after work: What went well today? What could have gone better? How can we make improvements to ensure the team and patients are well? She then implements her insights into actionable plans to improve hospital operations and the patient experience. Personally, she finds relief from the physically and mentally intensive work of health care leadership by spending free time with her niece and nephew, who live just a few blocks from her home.
Integrity, honesty, and direct communication have been Christine’s markers for career success. Her passion for nursing at Crozer Health inspires her to attract the next generation of nursing talent to her team.
“Crozer Health saw something in me,” Chrissy shares. “I wouldn’t have seen it in myself.” Today, she seeks to offer the same foresight to the next generation of nurses.
Nursing the Next Generation of Health Care Professionals
The national nursing shortage keeps Christine constantly searching for hard-working, care-centered, and socially engaging people who are passionate about improving the patient experience. She’s proud to invite new nurses onto the team, as Crozer Health offers one of the most robust compensation and benefits package in the market. From a variety of service lines, continuing education and certification opportunities, emergency and critical care residency programs, retention bonuses, vacation, tuition reimbursement, and loan forgiveness, the hospital provides the best professional environment for passionate nurses to begin and advance in their profession. Christine continues the tradition of intentional career advancement within the team to leverage her nurses’ commitment and experience within the Crozer Health system.
As Christine plans for the future at Crozer Health, she looks forward to sharing the expertise she’s developed in her three decades within the health care system with the next generation of nurses passionate about high-quality, patient-centered care. She seeks to instill in her nursing team the foundational principles that brought her to the hospital bedside and kept her committed to patient practice throughout her career: more personalized care, the commitment to the team, and the career fulfillment found as a nurse.
For Christine, between the stress of a pandemic and acute patient needs rests the true meaning of nursing— the opportunity to offer empathetic and expert care to those in need.