When most people hear the word nurse, they think of a bedside nurse caring for patients. Rarely do they think of a nurse as a project manager.   However, nurses do make excellent project managers. Both positions share the same core values of leadership, organization, and timeliness.  Nurses and project managers continually evaluate their work to ensure every task is completed as planned and delivered on time so that the client is satisfied with the outcome.  Both create a detailed plan that is unique to the needs of each client.  The ability to lead, teach, and mentor are vital strengths required to succeed in both professions.

To get a better understanding of how and why nurses make great project managers, HTS sat down with Lynn Aguilera, a twenty-year nurse veteran and a Senior Project Manager with HTS over the last six years.  Lynn, shared her management style and how she continually works to improve her management practices and behavior.

You have been a Senior Project Manager for six years.  What steps do you take to improve your management skills?  How do you stay current with new techniques?

I challenge myself to read different articles and books about leadership.  Each month I take time to reflect on what I have learned through reading, experience (mine or others), and feedback, then implement those things into my work practices.  I believe that to be a strong Project Manager, I need to be a good leader by mentoring others, and identifying ways to improve situations and people around me.  This includes improving myself.

How do you develop your team with your Project Management skills?

I love to teach and I love to read, so I recommend leadership books to people, discuss leadership practices with anyone who wants to hear, and ask my colleagues and staff for personal feedback.  I think it is good for people to be able to provide feedback, even if the feedback is difficult to hear at times. Good or bad, feedback grows people. I also like to be inclusive and find opportunities to teach others project management and organization skills so they can become more integrated into work processes and in turn, increase their value to the company.

Coming from a nursing background, what qualities set you apart from other Project Managers?

As a Pediatric Oncology Nurse, I have had some of the worst conversations in the world with the kids I took care of and their parents.  This has taught me to be clear, honest, compassionate, and patient when I deliver difficult news to people.  In the Project Manager role, one of the hardest things for me to do is provide feedback to people I work with (clients and internal staff), and ensure the messages are clearly delivered and received.  I don’t like to make people feel bad, but I think being honest with the intention of improving a situation is better than keeping quiet and not resolving an issue.  This also applies to delivering difficult news to clients about risks, changes, and other issues that the client may not want to hear about their project.

What are your strongest qualities as a Project Manager?

Some of my strongest qualities as a project manager are my optimism, strong motivation, the will to do what is right, the ability to delegate and teach, accountability to complete tasks on time and within set parameters, creativity, the ability to follow the process, and a strong passion for my work.  I also like to learn, which I find to be very helpful in nursing and project management.