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Nurturing nurse leaders

Three alums, working together at the same hospital, pave a path for other nurses to become leaders

September 7, 2018

Colleagues Megan (Gravendyk) Estrella '15, Michelle Jardeleza '12 and Melissa (Horning) Hayes '14 mentor other nurses to help them become nurse leaders.
Colleagues Megan (Gravendyk) Estrella '15, Michelle Jardeleza '12 and Melissa (Horning) Hayes '14 mentor other nurses to help them become nurse leaders.

By Tammy Murga '16

The career paths of three nursing alums currently in management roles can be traced back to the Mount’s strong emphasis on women’s leadership.  

“Mount Saint Mary’s University showed me many examples of women in powerful positions and that made me realize it was attainable,” said Melissa (Horning) Hayes ’14.

Her two colleagues and fellow Mount alums, Megan (Gravendyk) Estrella ’14 and Michelle Jardeleza ’12, also credit the Mount for inspiring them to become leaders in their workplace.

As nurse managers, the three lead a group of more than 120 nurses at Canyon Ridge Hospital in Chino, Calif., as nurse managers. Each manage the nursing staff in different areas: Estrella takes charge of the adult dual diagnosis unit, Hayes covers the geriatric-psychiatric unit and Jardeleza leads the adolescent unit.

They have turned ideas into hospital-wide projects to institute new protocols and strategies in various departments for the four-unit hospital. But one of their biggest accomplishments, they said, is identifying and mentoring new nurses so they can become the next generation of leaders.

“We put a program together that trains new nurses and opens their eyes to what happens in the background and administrative side of the field. This helps create a well-rounded leader,” said Estrella. She and Hayes graduated from the associate degree in nursing then earned their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree through the RN-to-BSN program. Jardeleza did the traditional BSN program.

Immediately after getting her ADN, Estrella was hired as a charge nurse at Canyon Ridge Hospital, then was quickly promoted to house supervisor, then patient advocate/nurse educator, then nurse manager. Jardeleza was promoted to her management role within a year of her hire and Hayes was picked to lead the nursing staff of the adolescent unit soon after the position was created.

All of them attribute their leadership skills to the faculty, staff and fellow students they met at the Mount and to the values the University instilled in them.

“There is a big emphasis on critical thinking,” said Estrella. “That was the focus at the Mount and that thread running in all of our classes really allowed me to see what was important in nursing today.”

The University’s women’s leadership conference and the networking opportunities they had as students helped them develop and nurture their skills as leaders. At the Mount, they learned management strategies and leadership philosophies that they now share with the nurses they mentor.

What impresses their colleagues the most, particularly the hospital’s top executive, is the integration of their skills as nurses and their skills as leaders.  

“It was during one of our monthly nurse recruitment and retention meetings that a connection was made that three of our nurse leaders attended Mount Saint Mary’s,” said Canyon Ridge Hospital CEO Stephanie Bernier. “This sparked a conversation about the focus that MSMU places on developing the whole student to be successful as a nurse and as a leader. They embody the spirit of nursing and have integrated nicely into the hospital leadership team as a whole. I think this is a testament to the curriculum and development that takes place for nursing students at MSMU.”

The goal now for Estrella, Hayes and Jardeleza is to reach out to more Mount nursing students and alums interested in networking and paving a strong path toward becoming leaders themselves.

“We are all nurse leaders and are at the top of our field,” said Estrella. “It’s time more joined us.”