Oklahoma Heart Institute nurse manager Whitney Conley, BSN, RN, speaks humbly of her 21 years in nursing. Driven by always doing what is best for patients, Whitney has grown in her career on that singular focus, earning her team national recognition for excellence in patient care. “This is my mission,” she explains of her first job in health care that developed into her passion and career. “I see nursing as my meaning in life.”
It all began when Whitney graduated high school. “I needed a job,” she admits directly. “I worked at a nursing home after graduating high school and was living on my own. I really enjoyed taking care of people. I was trying to make a life for myself. It seemed going into nursing was the right thing to do.”
Those early experiences of caring for patients and understanding their pain, fear and vulnerability, were the seeds that would grow deep roots in Whitney’s future. Instead of traveling abroad to serve others as a missionary, Whitney walked across the room, standing at the bedside of a patient in need – every encounter solidifying her decision to be a nurse and fulfill that mission of caring for others.
She graduated from nursing school in 1996 as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and started working at Utica Park Clinic, across the street from Hillcrest Medical Center. At the encouragement of several physicians, Whitney returned to nursing school to become a registered nurse (RN), ultimately requiring her to make the move to the hospital when she graduated in 2002.
“I had clinicals in the tower my last semester and I loved it,” she recalls. “I loved cardiology. I loved Hillcrest. I knew that was where I was supposed to be.” Then in 2009, the 183,000 square foot Oklahoma Heart Institute hospital opened, dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. “I’m proud to work for Oklahoma Heart Institute at Hillcrest Medical Center. We’re all one.”
Being a part of the Oklahoma Heart Institute hospital from day one, Whitney was embedded in a culture of striving to always be the best. Physicians, nurses and staff are a team, focused on doing what is best for the patients. Moving into a leadership position, Whitney naturally applies that same approach. “We’re a team here,” she adds. “We all work together. I take care of my team and in turn, they take care of me.”
The care Whitney’s team demonstrates for each other is evident in their respect for their profession. “You don’t know what people are going through,” she says empathetically. “A lot of nurses end up being patients at some point in their lives and then they realize how much patients depend on us and trust us and how important our jobs really are. We’re here to take care of our patients. We always strive to be the best.”
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