Several years ago, Angela Newman had an idea while working for WakeMed Cary’s oncology unit. Rather than patients needing to schedule and come into the hospital for blood transfusions, why couldn’t the hospital offer an outpatient clinic to simplify patients’ lives?
She brought the idea to her superiors and it was almost immediately funded.
“That was a turning point for me,” she recalled. “I brought it to them and they said, ‘Go for it.’”
Today, as nursing director for the Women’s Pavilion and Birthplace at WakeMed Cary, Newman is passionate about leading and sharing in that same sort of collaborative environment with her staff.
“Nursing is not an easy career,” she said. “You want to lead a team that you feel you can talk to, and that can talk to you.”
Newman oversees about 130 staff members who make each birth at WakeMed Cary as smooth as possible, and who care for the newborns afterward. Together with a manager and several staff reporting to the manager, they make up the leadership team for the unit.
The doors are always open at the Women’s Pavilion and Birthplace, because its tiniest “customers” have all the say in when they arrive. A busy day can mean 10 to 12 births, and the center averages 2,300 births each year.
It isn’t where Newman planned to be when she received her Bachelor of Science degree from Appalachian State University in 1993, but she’s discovered it’s exactly where she is meant to be.
Newman first considered a career helping businesses set up preventive health care programs. With that in mind, she asked her college advisor if nursing school was a good idea.
“It was that conversation I had with the chair of my department, my advisor, that led me in this direction,” she said. “He said, ‘Without a doubt, you should do that.’”
After nursing school she began working at a community hospital in western North Carolina, and the rest is history.
“That’s where I really learned how to be a nurse,” Newman said.
A desire to move home initially brought the Triangle native to WakeMed in 1998. She worked her way up through the ranks as clinician, then supervisor/educator.
On the way, she learned something important about herself.
“I really found out that I was good at taking care of the people who are taking care of the patients,” she said.
She began her master’s in nursing administration degree in 2005 at UNC-Chapel Hill. Between 2005 and 2009, she pursued her degree and got married, all while working full time.
At the urging of her advisor at UNC-Chapel Hill, she had her master’s research published. A focus group study on nurses’ experiences with Rapid Response Teams in the community hospital setting, the work was published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality.
If all of that wasn’t enough, one month after she graduated, she gave birth to her daughter, Allie.
Newman’s superiors recognized her talents when, in October 2013, she met with her boss on a Friday afternoon. The previous nursing director had left suddenly, leaving a vacancy.
“(My boss) said, ‘Starting on Monday, you’re going to be the interim director of the women’s pavilion,’” Newman recalled, noting it wasn’t a position for which she had even applied.
She excelled in the role, and that interim position became permanent in May 2014.
On a busy day, Newman’s duties can range from making sure the birthplace is well staffed, to simply making sure her staff has time to stop and eat lunch.
She is responsible for providing staff with all necessary equipment, the implementation of policies and procedures, and ensuring continuity in care and services.
She regularly travels to WakeMed in Raleigh to make certain the level and continuity of care is the same between the two hospitals.
Newman doesn’t interact as much with patients as she does with many of the staff nurses, but her role is an extremely important one.
With a committee of nurse advisors, Newman works to meet the needs of all nurses. Her hope is to ensure a process where nurses can come to her with ideas and see those ideas turn into something real.
“They know that I’m truly there for them,” she said. “They work really hard.”
For someone who works and lives in Cary, her work is how she gives back.
“I can give back to my community by helping my staff give the best care,” she said.
A longtime resident of Cary, Newman loves that it’s two hours to the beach and three hours to the mountains. Her neighborhood in Preston Village is a close-knit one, where she takes part in a dinner club with 20 other couples and enjoys other neighborhood events.
Like many parents, her child’s activities also keep her busy. This summer Newman spent countless hours at the pool, supporting Allie’s swim team.
“Cary is a community that is just growing by leaps and bounds,” she said.
Not unlike the way the healthcare world continues to grow. Newman’s seen a lot of changes in healthcare over the past two decades. One of the best, she says, is the collaboration among hospitals, both at the state level and nationally. WakeMed is involved in state and national collaborations examining best practices.
One day, Newman would love to be chief nurse, but for now, she’s exactly where she wants to be. With a young daughter at home, she isn’t ready to take on the additional responsibility.
“This works perfectly for me,” Newman said. “My goal right now is just to balance work and home life.”
Title: Nursing director, Women's Pavilion and Birthplace, WakeMed Cary
Education: Bachelor of Science, Appalachian State; associate’s degree, Caldwell Community College; Master of Science in nursing administration, UNC-Chapel Hill
Family: Husband, Dr. Alexander Newman; daughter, Allie, 6; stepchildren, Adam, 15, Cameron, 17, and Madison, 19
Hometown: Raleigh; she attended Garner High School
Recent accolades: National Board Certified Nurse Executive; member, Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses; member, North Carolina Organization of Nurse Leaders; WakeMed Circle of Excellence Award Winner, 2011
Fun fact: She was a national championship baton twirler in high school.
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