by James Coburn – staff writer
You could say that love brought Jane Kirby to become a nurse — love and being a mom.
She knows a lot about the diversity of best practices as a registered nurse serving SSM Health’s Quality and Process Improvement division. She covers the state of Oklahoma as clinical educator for the medical group.
Kirby advocates not only for patients, but also the medical staff. Best practices mean healthier lives.
“I feel as an educator that it is so important because in my classes I make sure the staff understands the reason why,” Kirby said.
If they understand reasons why best practices work, staff becomes more confident with improved outcomes.
Kirby’s role in reviewing best practices and risk management helps to ensure that SSM gives the best and safest quality of care for its patients. (story continues below)
“I will go in and look at clinics and help managers and staff follow the correct workflow, and follow best practice standards,” said Kirby, who has been with SSM for two years.
She is the first person in the medical group to serve in her position. Kirby joined with SSM shortly before COVID-19 began its spread through Oklahoma and had never seen anything like it.
“It was a blessing that I could meet people, see what’s going on and start implementing processes,” she said.
Her professional background prepared her for nursing. Kirby became a registered nurse in 1996 after earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at the University of Central Oklahoma. She had a career in radio, TV, journalism and communications, mostly in management before life sent her on a different path. Kirby’s first nursing experience was serving in high-risk labor and delivery at OU Medical Center.
“That was wonderful. I loved working with residents. I delivered or assisted delivering many babies and worked with parents and family members. That was probably where my first love of educating started right then and there,” she said.
Kirby worked in ambulatory care before leaving OU Medical Center to working as a nurse auditor for a state agency. Additionally, she worked for a private company providing ambulatory care. All of this led her back to quality process improvement through education — her heart and soul of nursing. Several staff members started as medical assistants before entering nursing school, graduated and continue to work for SSM Health as nurses.
“I’ve gained experience in so many areas that I use that experience to help the clinical staff and nurses to get where they want to be,” Kirby explained. “I am just thrilled to have any part of that.”
Nurses have played a vital, yet difficult role in health care during the past few years. Today’s world calls for strong mentors and teachers, she said. Nurses must think outside the box to keep a grip on the nursing shortage across the country. God gives SSM Health the ability to serve, Kirby continued.
SSM’s mission statement resonates throughout the core of SSM Health. “Through our exceptional health care services, we reveal the healing presence of God,” is central to staff all the way up to the medical group president, she said.
“When I came to SSM, I was so pleasantly surprised that they truly believe it, and work for it every day,” Kirby said.
Many providers have joined SSM Health. The medical group continues to grow while many providers have joined SSM Health. SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital – Midwest was purchased in April of 2021 along with those Midwest City clinics. Kirby will provide specialized training within specialty clinics or even a family practice clinic. Once a week she does specialized training for clinical staff wherever she is needed.
“It’s very important for retention because there are so many choices for nurses and other clinical staff, that we need to let them understand that we’re glad they’re here — that we want them to be here. But we will safeguard their practice and train them well,” she said.
‘THAT’S WHY I’M A NURSE’
Kirby is a busy woman who lives life to the fullest. In August she will celebrate her 40th wedding anniversary. She has two children who are the joy and sunshine of her life.
Her son will be 36 in December and is the reason why Kirby is a nurse, she said. Her 30-year-old daughter lives and works as a choreographer at in Orlando, Fla.
Her son lives in Edmond with a 24/7 staff assisting him with living a developmentally delayed life, Kirby said.
“I spent probably the first seven years of his life in several hospitals here in Oklahoma and California,” she said. “He’s had two brain surgeries, and so that gave me my drive to be a nurse.”
One of her fondest memories is of taking her son in a stroller as a baby to an OU Health Sciences Center medical school library. She took advantage of reading books to try learning the best treatment for her son.
She would go to his specialists in California who readily noticed she already understood a lot about their best practices. They would ask her if she was a nurse.
“No, I’m a mom,” she replied. “But I had to educate myself, because I had to find the best way to ensure that we were doing the best thing for him. That’s why I’m a nurse.”