As a child, Maria McClure, neonatal nurse practitioner, dreamed of becoming a nurse. She was inspired by Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale, two of history’s most influential nurses, whom she read about in elementary and middle school. A high school medical explorers program exposed Maria to the health care industry, further sparking her interest.
But life had other plans for Maria after high school. It wasn’t until she was a mom of 2 living in Akron that she was finally able to complete the degree she had started and begin to pursue her dream.
Now, after a 40-year career at Children’s, Maria retires on June 30. She plans to enjoy spending time with her family, riding on her pontoon boat and jet ski, reading for pleasure, taking walks and traveling. Eventually, Maria, who grew up in a Spanish-speaking household, hopes to become certified as a medical interpreter.
What brought you to Children’s?
While attending St. Thomas School of Nursing, I did a pediatric rotation at Children’s. I was caring for an infant who had become more ill. Although he wasn’t sick enough for intensive care, he needed specialized care and was sent to a stepdown unit. Under the supervision of my instructor and staff RN, I was able to continue to care for him. The changes in his level of care and different procedures intrigued me. Because I had completed my clinical rotations for obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics, I could work at Children’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as a nursing technician while finishing school. I applied and Mrs. Eileen Enin hired me.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
I’ve always worked in the NICU. It’s team atmosphere provided me with opportunities and challenges. Among my roles were: staff nurse, education coordinator, transport nurse and ECMO nurse. ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) is a treatment that provides life-saving rescue therapy for infants with severe respiratory failure.
Through a scholarship from Children’s, I attended Columbus Children’s Hospital, now Nationwide, and completed the neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) certificate program 23 years ago. As an NNP, my role expanded to conducting simulations for the neonatal transport team and teaching the S.T.A.B.L.E. program, which focuses on the post-resuscitation/pre-transport stabilization care of sick infants. Additionally, I’ve been involved in unit quality improvement projects. These include changing to Eat Sleep Console assessments for infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) due to maternal opioid use and decreasing the incidence of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP).
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
Besides being bilingual, which helped our Spanish-speaking families, I’ve always cared for these tiny patients as if they were my own. This is the driving force in becoming a nurse practitioner. Most recently, I developed a PowerPoint presentation on ROP to be used during orientation for new nurses.
How has Children’s changed since you started here?
The technological changes to save tiny patients’ lives would make your head spin! For instance, we’ve gone from using butterfly needles for delivering IV fluids to placing peripherally inserted central catheters (PICC) in infants weighing 500 grams. The evolution of ventilators is amazing. With NAVA (neurally adjusted ventilatory assist), sensors are used to help babies on ventilators breathe more easily and naturally.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
Watching as the tiniest and sometimes sickest babies go home and knowing that I played a small part in that milestone. I’ve also been at several of the area’s multiple birth deliveries. The planning and logistics from birth to watching them go home is rewarding.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Being at the beach under an umbrella, sitting and reading a good book.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Be kind and patient. Having a hospitalized child is stressful and you don’t know what else may be going on in a person’s life. Put yourself in that person’s shoes.
What couldn’t you live without?
My husband, children, extended family and all their support.
What’s the last book your read?
“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Growing up, my father was in the Air Force and we moved every 2 to 3 years. Traveling is something I hope to do more once I’m retired.