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Multi-Career Connection with MCCC for Capital Health Nurse Manager Barbara Flood

1/14/15


West Windsor, N.J. – Barbara Flood '06 (A.S., Nursing) thanks Mercer County Community College (MCCC) for two careers – her first in data processing (A.A.S., 1983), and more recently, in nursing at Capital Health, where she was recently promoted to inpatient cardiology nurse manager of the Telemetry Floor at Capital Health Medical Center—Hopewell. Her 36-bed specialty unit monitors patients with cardiac arrhythmias and other heart problems.

It’s a second career that has incorporated Flood’s strongest skills, especially in management.  “When I embark on new projects, I go all-in.  It’s in my nature.  I have a hard time saying ‘no’ when I see a need for leadership,” she said.

In her managerial role, Flood oversees a staff of 84 nurses, secretaries and patient care assistants.  Each day presents new challenges and no two days are the same.  With all the balls she is juggling, Flood says, “It’s a great day when everything goes well.  When the staff is happy and the patients are happy, I feel really good.  It’s knowing that you are making a difference in people’s lives – both the patients and the staff.”

Flood’s decision to study nursing at Mercer in her 40s was an offshoot of yet a third career she had as an aerobics instructor and manager at the YMCA Hamilton while her children were young.  “I knew there were jobs in the nursing field and I saw a direct connection between fitness and healthcare,” she explained.

And, having been away from an office environment for so long, Flood just could not imagine returning to that setting.  Nursing appeared to offer a perfect fit.
When Flood returned to Mercer, she dove right in.  She completed her degree with highest honors in 2006 and was the valedictorian of her nursing class.  She even taught aerobics classes for staff and students.

She recalls her MCCC nursing professors as top notch.  “Professor Barb Kunkel taught me the discipline, Donna Penn, my very first nursing instructor, instilled a sense of pride and excitement about the nursing profession, while Sue Minkel taught me about the heart of a nurse,” she said.

Flood was hired at Capital Health directly after graduation, where she worked part-time as a floor nurse and then concentrated in telemetry, “floating” between the hospital’s two campuses and learning how to work independently.  “I could be on any unit and I had to be able to handle myself.  I grew a lot as a nurse that year,” she said.

Nurse Manager Barbara Flood in her busy office on the Telemetry Floor at Capital Health.
Flood is a hands-on manager who
makes rounds and answers call bells.

In 2009, Flood continued her education.  She completed her B.S.N. at Thomas Edison State College in 2012. “All of my Mercer credits transferred. I only needed eight additional courses to get my bachelor’s,” she said.

Flood’s varied skill set was in high demand than when Capital Health prepared and carried out the move to its new Hopewell facility in 2011. She became a vital member of the transition team, developing orientation packages, laying out floor plans, preparing PowerPoints and creating a training program for staff.

“We were moving the hospital and also in the process of earning MAGNET 3 certification. It was a challenging time,” she recalled. Her contributions earned her the hospital’s Nurse Excellence Award in 2012.

Flood likes many aspects of her job, but is particularly happy to help shape and mentor young nurses. “It’s a joy to see how they grow and let them know how much I appreciate their efforts.” She notes that she has a hands-on management style.  “My whole floor is my assignment. I make rounds every day and answer call bells. I still give meds and see patients.”

Flood has served on the New Jersey Nursing Association Board for two years and plans to join the American Organization of Nurse Executives in the coming year.

MCCC first met Flood’s career needs in a completely different field. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in Consumer-Family Services, she worked in the Public Advocate Office handling citizen complaints. But then she decided to go back to school in 1983 and chose Mercer to complete an A.A.S. degree in Data Processing.

“It was practical and useful training,” she recalls. Following graduation, she worked for the state and then as a computer systems analyst at Educational Testing Service for seven years.

Flood has plenty of advice for current students, especially those who are older and considering a second career. “When I graduated from Mercer for the second time, I was 46. I was going to be 46 anyway, so why not do something meaningful? Take it one class at a time. You are never too old. But make sure to take care of yourself too.”

Flood notes that in her field, one learns to pace oneself. “Rewards come in small increments. You can’t expect to part the Red Sea. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint.  Little victories mean a lot.”

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