Mary Herold, EM-CQSL, BSN

Mary Herold

Executive Master’s in Clinical Quality, Safety & Leadership
Spring 2019 Graduate

What’s your background? What has your life been like since the Georgetown EMCQSL program?

My passion for patient safety began when I was a nurse at the bedside, caring for patients with multiple medical issues. Understanding the complexities of their diseases and the care associated made me realize how vital it is to ensure safety is a top priority for our patients. My career led me to be a nurse leader and managing critical care units. I realized I wanted to affect care at a larger scale and gain a better understanding of healthcare risk management and moved into that role for about five years. During that time, our system embarked on a High-Reliability Organization (HRO) journey! I became an HRO trainer and stood-up our Patient Family Advisory Council for Quality and Safety (PFACQS).

Patient safety begins with our patients and their loved ones having a voice and participating in their care. Affecting patient safety at an even greater level led me to a position at our system level as a patient safety operations manager. My role took me to our system facilities to review safety events and establish error prevention techniques. When I heard about the Executive Master’s in Clinical Quality, Safety, and Leadership program, I knew this was a perfect fit for me. As a working professional, the time commitment was manageable. More importantly, I would be learning from faculty that work in these areas every day.

The program led me to gain a more well-rounded understanding of clinical quality, patient safety, and being an effective leader. I am now working to affect health care for our military and their families. I can see things from a different purview: every decision, policy, and procedure needs to start with patient safety as the foundation.

How did your time in the EMCQSL program help prepare you for your current career?

The Executive Master’s Clinical Quality, Safety, and Leadership program allowed me to acquire skills necessary to provide input on establishing a safe environment for patients and staff during COVID-19 for Military Health. The knowledge and skills I gained proved to be assets for assisting with developing maturity map models for HROs. The network of professionals I gained during this program has proven to be essential to helping me take that next step towards the work I want to do: promoting patient safety.

What advice do you have for students looking for future careers or future programs to apply to? What do you know now that you wish you’d known as an EMCQSL student?

My advice is to take this time as an authentic learning experience from the faculty and your classmates. Remember, you are all being prepared to be quality and safety, healthcare leaders. If you decide to stay in your current career, the knowledge gained in this program will serve you well as the expert in quality and safety, protecting our patients—their loved ones and associates. Perhaps you want to look for another position after completing the program, again, this program will set you up for success as a true leader in bringing all you learned to your next career.

I wish I knew during my time in the program to take advantage of the accessibility to the Dahlgren Library and all it has to offer. Sometimes I would get caught up in wanting to have my assignment completed and tended to have a narrow focus on which articles, journals, or research materials I would utilize. Now, I wish I could go back and take advantage of all of that shared knowledge.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Networking can serve you well in this program. The exciting aspect is your classmates are from all over the world; each brings their own unique healthcare view.