After 20 years working in restaurants, Wayne Murphy asked himself a question: Is this what I want to do with my life? Murphy loved customer service, but at 38, he wondered if there was something else out there for him.

“I started to think about where I wanted to end up and what kind of difference I have made in the world,” he said. “I worked with someone who had just finished nursing school, and she said ‘You should try it. You’d be good at it.’ So I started taking classes and it piqued my interest. It was sur­prising how soon I got the feeling of what a noble profession nursing could be. I knew it was something where I could go home at the end of the day and know I made a dif­ference in somebody’s life.”

After graduating from Broward College, Murphy started working at Aventura Hospital as a nurse on the Telemetry-Ortho unit. Two years later, when he heard HCA was opening Northwest Medical Center’s (NWMC) newly-renovated ER, he got in on the ground floor. After a year as a bedside RN, he stepped up to charge nurse, where he works today while pursuing his BSN.

In the charge nurse role, Mur­phy manages everything in the ER. He attends codes, coordinates fire rescue, supervises nurses, makes patient rounds and ensures his team is hitting their metrics. It’s taxing but very satisfying.

“Our highest priority is keeping patient care our main focus,” he says. “Nursing is all about rela­tionships, with patients, cowork­ers, people in different areas of the hospital. That’s something my back­ground in the restaurant industry helps with because nursing is a service industry, too. As a nurse, you field a lot of demands, which is challenging but also rewarding.”

Sharing best practices

Seeing the big picture is critical, as is Murphy’s ability to address problems when they arise. Recently, HCA sent him to Mercy Hospital for an East Florida Division stroke summit. Meeting leaders in the field, he realized his team could make a big differ­ence with a few improvements. Since the majority of stroke alerts come through their ER, he started conducting mock alerts fol­lowed by debriefs for the inpatient units and rolling out other improvements.

“I learned about best practices, did some research and modified processes so we could implement them in the best way for us,” he says. “Most of all, I encouraged staff to step up the intensity. Minutes count, and everybody was on board with the changes.”

NWMC has made great strides in door-to-needle times and patient outcomes. The national benchmark is 60 minutes. Murphy’s team regularly achieves 45.

“Seeing our median door-to-needle time decrease to 41 minutes is a big deal,” he says.

Going to events like the stroke summit help Murphy understand HCA’s resources. He believes in the company’s mission — Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life — and he sees nurses getting the tools they need to live up to it.

“By providing me the oppor­tunity to get outside of our ER, HCA lit a light in our facility,” he says. “I can see the company making strides in technology, making things easier and more streamlined. Being loyal is in my DNA, and I’m not a quitter. I think HCA is the same way. Sometimes it gets tough, and our metrics get difficult, but the goal is there. The heart is there. And I believe in it.”

At age 38, Wayne Murphy left a career in the restaurant business to become a nurse. He’s never looked back.