Marcy White
February 2021
Cardiovascular ICU
UVA Health




Marcy’s compassion and the way she integrates supporting the staff and promoting quality and compassionate patient care is so important.
Marcy is the calm of the storm that is Cardiac Surgery. Her presence is unmistakable, and her nurses are elevated in her wake. She is steadfast in her support of her staff while always being available. She listens with intention and treats each of her nurses with an attentiveness that fosters an environment that motivates each person to grow into the pinnacle of their practice. Her leadership inspires a team that can operate under extreme pressure with the ability to support itself if needed. Marcy is an exemplary leader that has cultivated a team of nurses that are second to none who deliver uncompromising care and outcomes to the sickest patients in the state of Virginia. She should be recognized by the organization of the University of Virginia including the Board of Visitors, the Department of Cardiac Surgery, and the entirety of the UVA Nursing Staff that is the backbone of UVA Health.
The first time I met Marcia (Marcy) White she was working on the unit as a bedside RN. I was on a tour with the manager of TCV at the time. All I remember from that day is being scared to death and wanting to be just like her when I grew up. It was my first time stepping into an ICU and my first job interview in healthcare. After that day, I am proud to say I began working in the TCV Post-Op at the University of Virginia. At 19 years old, I began as a Patient Services Assistant (PSA) with no degree, certification or experience. Fourteen years later, I am the Assistant Nurse Manager of TCV with my BSN, certification in Critical Care and Cardiac Surgery because of Marcy's guidance, and support.
I could easily write a novel on the wonders of Ms. Marcia White, though I would never write it as well as her. If you are not already aware, prior to becoming an RN, she was an English teacher. This is important because one of things she is known for are her Newsletters. Every Sunday she spends her day off writing the most amazing Newsletters (except for winter when she writes the unit an amazing poem).
Everyone looks forward to her highlights from the week typically including:
Her reflection
Staff recognition (comments from peers, family members, patients, or a shout for doing a great job)
TCV specific practice changes
Institution wide updates
Important dates
Trends in quality/outcomes and focus areas
Always ended with a funny cartoon related to the theme of the letter
There are so many examples of how Marcy is an extraordinary role model. At any given time she can update you on the entire unit, each patient, every surgery, age, their family members. She can list all employees (over 100) by name, where they went to school, when they started, their shift, FTEs, etc. She knows which patients have planned procedures which nurse is caring for them and quality initiatives to be aware of for each. If you have ever met Marcy you know she is humble and strong. Her words are few but wise. One of the many things she has taught me is the importance of listening. Sometimes no words mean the most. Her door is always open, and she never makes you feel like a burden or your concern is not valid.
Next to my mother, Marcy has always been my role model. Even with the turnover percentages in the TCV, her engagement scores have always been top-notch. Why is that you ask? As I mentioned before, it isn't the words she speaks but most importantly her actions. Actions speak louder than words. She is the epitome of a role model.
With Marcy as my role model, I feel nothing is impossible. When I transitioned into the role of Clinician IV she could have had me complete tasks to lessen her load, instead, she prioritized my growth and supporting my passions such as Hospital Acquired Pressure Injury Prevention, Night Shift, and Documentation. Major quality and safety initiatives were achieved for the institution because of her support: Night Shift PNSO-employee vaccinations, TB testing, mentorship program, respiratory fit tests, and EMR/documentation remodeling.
When interviewing, Marcy makes a point to ask "the blanket question": What would you do if a patient asks for a warm blanket? Some responses are, "What is their temperature?" or "I would tell them I have more important things to tend to like your blood pressure." Though the patient's clinical stability is important, Marcy wants to ensure the nurse appreciates the heart of nursing. The center of what we do is to care for the patient. There are lots of bells and whistles involved with TCV patients. It is easy to get caught up in all of the devices, but you never want to lose sight of the person in the bed. After almost 30 years in the TCV ICU, she has never lost that sight.
A typical TCV ICU patient arrives very early in the morning with their family (pre-COVID) to check in for surgery. The family would then sit and wait for most of the day. Despite updates in status from the OR, the family would be worried until they could physically see them post-op. Once admitted to TCV, there has to be a handoff with the surgical fellow, anesthesia and the beside team (intensivist, RN, APP, RT). Then the team is busy resuscitating the patient and they have to get post-op x-ray, labs etc., so the family would be delayed even longer in seeing their loved one.
After several attempts to rectify this issue, Marcy took it upon herself to start personally greeting each family immediately post-op. At the beginning of her day, she writes down each patient, their family names, and numbers with all contact information. When the patient is admitted to the unit, she finds the family to touch base and update them. Since COVID, she calls instead of greeting the designated visitors in person but the comfort to the families remains the same. I have personally seen the results of Marcy's actions through improved patient experience scores. The patients receive their experience survey in acute/intermediate care, so it is not linked to TCV ICU. Despite little to no recognition for this, it is still Marcy's passion. It goes to show her true intentions and is a prime example of how her daily actions make a significant impact.
It is impossible to speak to all of Marcy's admirable qualities (but I will do my best to paint the masterpiece of her finest features). For years, Marcy managed the entire unit without many of the resources available today. Though she would never agree, the growth of TCV over the last decade would not have been achieved without her superb management. Her response would be "It takes a team" or she would transfer praise to everyone but herself.
To shed a little light here a few highlights of TCV major events/accomplishments/milestones:
Transitioned from single 12-bed unit to 2 x 12 (24) bed units.
Initiation and succession of ECMO program.
Core classes created around TCV specific education.
CSU-ALS center of excellence (Advanced life support for cardiac surgery patients/re-open patient's chest in TCV at the bedside within 5 minutes).
First successful EX-VIVO lung transplant-discharged home (lungs explanted from donor).
First successful COVID lung transplant-discharged home.
Despite increase in case mix index, improvement in patient outcomes.
ECLS (Extracorporeal Life Support) program: expanded pool of ECPR patients by awareness/class offerings for off service employees (included but not limited to: Physicians, RT, PT/OT, RNs - renal, ED, flight, STICU, CCU, MICU, fourth floor-4E, C, W).
Open chest level classifications/MOCs/consistent education.
Initiation of unit-based Practice and Research/Evidence-Based Practice - Creation of an Acuity Tool that is proving increased productivity.
Reconstructed orientation process.
Another priceless piece of advice frequently quoted by Marcy is "never assume ill intent". Almost every situation can be diffused by communication. I always hear Marcy's wise words in the back of my head and think "what would Marcy do". It is very rare that someone is purposely trying to ruin your day, put you down or go out of their way to cause trouble. R.W. Emerson once said, "Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." I conclude by asking the simple question of what inspires you? Perhaps knowledge, leadership, compassion, drive, or humility are a few traits that come to mind. After reading this, I would not be surprised if Marcia White also inspires you.
Marcy’s compassion and the way she integrates supporting the staff and promoting quality and compassionate patient care is so important. Marcy always encourages TCVICU staff to seek the next step in our education; whether that's seeking a higher degree, pursuing specialty certification, or broadening our knowledge base through various classes and CEs, she works hard to finagle our schedules to enable us to pursue those opportunities.
Marcy is the kind of manager I would hope to be someday. In an era of increasingly stringent NQIs and amidst the stress of COVID, Marcy achieves the very fine balance of encouraging us to shoot for excellence, while acknowledging and seeking solutions to any barriers to success the staff encounters.