Ingram's: 2022 Heroes in Healthcare
By Dennis Boone
The standing joke in her family, says Paula Blizzard, is that she still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. Trust us, though: Blizzard is exactly what she wants to be. She’s the senior director for nursing excellence at Children’s Mercy, the region’s premier pediatric hospital. In that role, she’s also responsible for a prized industry recognition: The American Nurse Credential Center’s Magnet designation.
"We were the first in Kansas City to be recognized as Magnet; when I started this journey, it wasn’t that prominent in the region,” Blizzard says.
“I think people don’t recognize that we spend a lot of time collaborating with other Magnet programs—KU, Saint Luke’s, North Kansas City—to share best practices. I would love for every hospital to be Magnet, because that means patients are getting the best care possible.”
Patients and their families may not understand the meaning of that status, she says, “but I think if they’ve experienced Magnet and non-Magnet care, they can feel that difference.”
Hailing from the southeast Kansas burg of Toronto, where she was raised on a cattle ranch and farm, she grew up with the standard-issue appreciation for hard work. She wanted to combine that with something more altruistic.
“I knew I wanted to do something to help people,” Blizzard says, but “I took a round-about path to nursing, for sure.”
From pre-pharmacy in college, she tested multiple majors before settling on nursing. After earning her biology degree at K-State, she headed to Topeka’s Washburn University for a nursing degree. The appeal of nursing, she says, stemmed from “just that connection with being able to be at bedside helping people and seeing them through some of the most difficult things in life, getting on the other side of it.”
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