UAH alumna promoted to director of nursing at faith-based hospital

Megan Lotero with associates

UAH nursing alumna Megan Lotero (center) was recently promoted to a director of nursing position at St. Vincent’s East Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., a division of Ascension, the nation’s largest nonprofit health-care system.

When Megan Lotero graduated from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) in 2010 with her bachelor’s degree from the College of Nursing, her only ambition was to be a successful nurse by taking good care of her patients. As an undergraduate, Lotero came to UAH on a softball scholarship, displaying superior skill both on the field and in the classroom. "Megan is so tough, so strong, such a hard worker, and such a great teammate," says Les Stuedeman, head softball coach at UAH and mentor to Lotero. "I was lucky to have coached her and to now count her as one of my friends."

After taking the Health Education Systems Inc. nursing exam and receiving one of the highest scores in her class, Lotero was offered a junior teaching position to help guide other nursing students in their study habits as they also prepared to take the exam. Her time as a tutor prepared her for her future career as a nurse. "It taught me how to use my time wisely, how to focus, how to prepare. In my current position, I have to prepare for meetings, and it takes time to gather the important information, so teaching that class did prepare me for that. It also helped me with my public speaking skills -- because I really didn’t like public speaking," she says with a laugh. "But teaching that class taught me how to overcome that fear."

Just two years after receiving her degree, Lotero was promoted to charge nurse at Trinity Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala. Three years later she accepted the assistant director position for the cardiac unit, and a mere 12 months later she became the unit’s director.

Now in her eighth year of postgraduate life, Lotero has accepted the director of nursing position at St. Vincent’s East Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., a division of Ascension, the nation’s largest nonprofit health-care system. "I’m still settling in and getting organized," Lotero says. "I’m still molding myself to this new position, learning what is expected of me and what my daily tasks are going to be." But if her past performance is any indication of her future, Lotero will no doubt hit the ground running. "I like to be able to see process improvements. When I was on my unit at Trinity, I helped improve the working process of that unit, but now I have the opportunity to impact patient care and experience on a hospital level, and so I’m excited about that."

St. Vincent’s East is the ideal environment for applying new techniques to patient care. As a faith-based organization, it incorporates spirituality and faith-centered healing alongside traditional medical procedures. "We are encouraged to pray with our patients, and we pray at every meeting," Lotero says. "So it’s definitely a different environment. Faith helps people recover, it helps them to persevere, and it also helps families to cope. To be able to speak openly to families and patients about spiritual matters makes all the difference in the world as far as how they respond to us. Spirituality is an ally in the healing process; it provides comfort, hope, and encouragement as opposed to despair and hopelessness, and you can feel that in the environment at this hospital. It’s just wonderful."

The hospital’s faith-based approach is an added advantage in more than one area. "At St. Vincent’s East, our chaplains help the families and the patients with the transition some of them are about to experience, providing them with guidance, and helping them to feel some sort of control over what they are going through, bringing a level of comfort to the inevitability of death. This is a huge help to us as we strive to improve patient care." A more holistic approach may be just what the doctor ordered as the health-care system trends toward more patient-centered care. "Healthcare is always changing," she says. "We as health-care providers have to be flexible even though it’s not always easy to change old habits. But learning how to build relationships and set new expectations helps in creating avenues for the necessary changes."

Lotero, an active member of her community and busy mother of two, is greeting her new position as director with enthusiasm and passion. "I’ve already exceeded my dreams from when I was a student at UAH," she says. "I want to be able to improve the health-care system starting with my work at St. Vincent’s East, and maybe years down the road become chief nursing officer. I am in the exact environment necessary to gain the experience and knowledge to achieve this goal." Lotero’s devotion to all that she does is echoed by those who know her best. "Megan's success as a mother, as a wife, and as a nurse is no surprise," says Stuedeman. "She valued and appreciated what a degree from UAH in nursing meant for her life from her first day on campus. I never imagined the joy and pride I would experience watching athletes like Megan flourish after their days as a Charger."

Stuedeman is not the only member of the UAH faculty who remembers Lotero fondly. "Megan is a prime example of someone who possesses passion, perseverance, and the ability to set strategic goals," says Dr. Marsha Howell Adams, dean and professor of nursing. "The College of Nursing is proud to call her an alumna!"

When asked whether she would recommend the nursing program at UAH to future students, Lotero responds with an enthusiastic, "Oh my gosh, of course! I do all the time! When any of my nurses want to go back to school to get their master’s degree, I always recommend they do so at UAH. UAH was awesome for me."


Contact

UAH College of Nursing
 256.824.6742
nursing@uah.edu

UAH Alumni Association
 256.824.2586
alumni@uah.edu

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