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Three sessions: 4 January2018, 25 January 2018, 6 July 2018
Total approximate duration: 2 hrs 6 min.
Interviewer: Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D.
For supplementary materials:
Please contact, the Historical Resources Center, Research Medical Library:
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About the Interview Subject:
Dr. Carol Porter came to MD Anderson in 2016 to serve as Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Nursing Practice. In this interview she discusses her approaches to strengthen clinical excellence and research in the Division. She also discusses her background in emergency management, which became relevant as the institution coped with Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Major Topics Covered:
About transcription and the transcript
This interview had been transcribed according to oral history best practices to preserve the conversational quality of spoken language (rather than editing it to written standards).
The interview subject has been given the opportunity to review the transcript and make changes: any substantial departures from the audio file are indicated with brackets [ ].
In addition, the Archives may have redacted portions of the transcript and audio file in compliance with HIPAA and/or interview subject requests.
The views expressed in this interview are solely the perspective of the interview subject. They are not to be interpreted as the official view of any other individual or of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Interview Session One: January 04, 2018
Emergency Management and Leadership
Experience in Emergency Management
Interview Session Two: January 25, 2018
From Mount Sinai Hospital to CNO and VP of Nursing Practice at MD Anderson
CNO and VP of Nursing Practice at MD Anderson
Areas to Address as Chief Nursing Officer
Interview Session Three: July 06, 2018
Developing Nursing with an Endowment from the Argyros Family Foundation
Observations about Nursing and Hurricane Harvey
Interview Session One: (listen/read)
Chapter 01 (Overview)
Emergency Management and Leadership (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Porter provides an overview of what leaders will experience by taking part in Emergency Management. She notes the teamwork that can lead to long-lasting relationships. She also explains that emergency management allows a leader to see the "nooks and crannies" of an institution.
Chapter 02 (Professional Path)
Experience in Emergency Management (listen/read)
Dr. Porter begins this chapter by observing that she was a trauma nurse for ten years before taking on opportunities in emergency management. She notes that trauma parallels emergency situations, and she was intrigued by the need for quick thinking and fast decision-making. She served as Manager of Emergency Services at Englewood Hospital in Englewood, New Jersey (1991 – 1997), an institution situated near a busy highway. She focused on response strategies around hazardous materials. Next she was recruited to set up a Trauma Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, NY and served as Director of Critical Care and Emergency Services (1997 – 1999). She explains why this hospital needed a trauma center. She also discusses how the hospital worked with the Hasidic Jewish population, to ensure effective healthcare delivery. She also notes that this hospital was located near Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, necessitating that the hospital conduct nuclear drills.In 1999, she explains, she was recruited to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City to serve as Director of Emergency Services, Emergency Preparedness, and also as the Bioterrorism Coordinator. She explains that the hospital was receiving terrorist threats and also dealing with concerns about the impending millennium.Dr. Porter then returns to her discussion of her work at "Good Sam" and explains that she had the valuable opportunity to work with a military emergency management specialist at this time. She notes that she provided about 300 instructional sessions for dealing with hazardous materials and threats.
Chapter 03 (Professional Path)
In this chapter, Dr. Porter talks about her experience as an emergency management leader at Lenox Hill Hospital when the terrorist attacks occurred in New York City on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. She had been recruited to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City in 1999 and was serving as Bioterrorism Coordinator. She describes the scenario at the hospital as reports of the attacks on the Twin Towers came through. She describes coping with her own knowledge that her son worked in a building across the street from the Twin Towers and her concerns when she was unable to contact him or her daughters. She explains how the hospital realized there would be no influx of wounded survivors and how they turned their attention to "what can we do for the community?" Next, Dr. Porter talks about how 9/11 forced her to realize how important it is for a leaders to control her own demeanor –despite personal feelings-- for the sake of the institution she is leading. She underscores how important it is for a leader to identify colleagues she can lean on and how important it is to be able to multi-task and attend to the impact the emergency is having on people. Dr. Porter talks about how her children handled the emergency. She then reflects briefly on how the city recovered from the terrorist attacks, holding the New York Marathon. She talks about her participation and how this helped her see the city returning to normal. Interview Session Two: 25 January 2018:
Chapter 04 (Professional Path)
From Mount Sinai Hospital to CNO and VP of Nursing Practice at MD Anderson (listen/read)
Dr. Porter begins this chapter by talking about her work as Chief Nursing Officer at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She focuses on her work with the unions, a traditionally adversarial stakeholder, and explains how she was able to build a strong partnership. She notes that after 12 years in that role she was "ready for another adventure."
Chapter 05 (Joining MD Anderson/Coming to Texas)
CNO and VP of Nursing Practice at MD Anderson (listen/read)
Dr. Porter explains that she received a call from a recruiter for MD Anderson and describes coming to visit the institution for her current role. Dr. Porter explains that because she had visited MD Anderson in 2010 for a survey, she knew many people and "felt like I worked here." She explains how she decided to leave Mount Sinai and how she wanted to take on the challenge of seeing how she could contribute to move the MD Anderson bar even higher.
Chapter 06 (Building the Institution)
Areas to Address as Chief Nursing Officer (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Porter discusses areas where she felt she could make an impact at MD Anderson. She begins by summarizing her management style and notes some challenges that arose as nurses became accustomed to her style during rounds. She tells a story about nursing in orthopedic surgery to illustrate her goal of integrating patient experience and quality scores. She also talks about bringing more use of social media to the institution. She notes that social media was used extensively in NYC, yet MD Anderson was nervous about its use when she arrived. She uses examples to demonstrate the positive impact of social media on perceptions of MD Anderson leadership. She also notes that social media can capture the 'granularity" of the institution and its culture. She talks about receiving posts from nurses internationally, noting "you become their hope." She talks about her philosophy and guidelines for using social media in an institutional context.
Chapter 07 (Building the Institution)
Developing Nursing with an Endowment from the Argyros Family Foundation (listen/read)
In this first half of this session, Dr. Porter discusses how she is using an endowment of three million dollars from the Agyros Family Foundation to implement her vision for developing the Division of Nursing [Agyros Family Foundation Nursing Research Endowment]. Dr. Porter explains why it is important to develop the key facets of her vision: the academic and research infrastructure. She first notes that she is using funds to bring in nationally recognized nursing leaders to share information and to consult on how MD Anderson can develop nursing. She has submitted a proposal to hire a full professor of nursing research. She explains her logic: to develop nursing practice at MD Anderson and also to develop a community of nursing leadership within the institution and that has a high profile nationally as well. Dr. Porter explains that the siloed culture at MD Anderson has held back this growth and she talks about her strategies to work around it. She explains the many successes that the division has had recently –all indications that this long term strategy is paying off. As an example, she discusses how she has begun nominating MD Anderson nurses to be fellows of the American Academy of Nursing, noting that Gary Brydges is the first "home grown" nurse to be honored in this way.
Chapter 08 (Overview)
Observations about Nursing and Hurricane Harvey (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Porter gives an overview of the strong performance of MD Anderson and of nursing during Hurricane Harvey in September 2017. She notes her background in emergency management, but explains that in the northeast, where she had prior experience she had had no experience with MD Anderson policy, particularly regarding the strategy of having a "ride-out team" [see UT System article below]. She talks briefly about adjusting to this new policy. Next, Dr. Porter talks about the key activities undertaken to ensure effective delivery of patient care during the period when MD Anderson was isolated and supported only by the ride-out team. She talks about ensuring that people in the Incident Command Center and on staff in the hospital units were relieved periodically so they could sleep. Dr. Porter also talks about the process by which nurses from four other institutions came to support patient care efforts. She explains how quality of care was guaranteed and comments on the excellent team-building that was accomplished, such that after a couple of days it was not possible to distinguish MD Anderson staff from the support staff from outside. Next, she expands on the ride-out team policy and notes that a key challenge was to keep this staff safe and effective by getting them to take breaks. She also comments on the impact of the fourth meal provided by Food Services to patients and to the team, as well as the fact that the fitness center was opened so the team could wash and decompress. Dr. Porter then notes that the experience underscored that the staff and patients felt cared for, and the Incident Command Center operated in a respectful and caring way. She explains that the patient care areas never ran out of supplies