CallisonRTKL Celebrates International Nurses Day
From bedside nursing to health facility transitioning, Alice Wainwright RN shares her story
International Nurses Day is held every year on May 12 to acknowledge the vital role nurses play around the world and mark the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Known as the “Lady with the Lamp,” Nightingale attended to wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War and brought to the battlefield new approaches to handwashing and hygiene. “Nurses: A Voice to Lead—Nursing the World to Health” is this year’s theme.
CallisonRTKL’s Healthcare practice is known globally for its expertise in health facility planning and transitioning and today, in honor of International Nurses Day, we would like to recognize one of our own, Alice Wainwright RN, MSN, NHA, FACHE.
Alice, some people might be surprised to find an RN at an architecture firm.
I am a nurse, not an architect, but I bring an invaluable perspective to the work that architects do, helping them understand how a healthcare facility functions. You can’t design a hospital without understanding what every person in that space does, down to the most minute task.
Can you share your career path with us? How did you choose nursing as a career?
I got into nursing because I wanted to help people and make a difference. We’re going back many years now. When I was in college there were not a lot of professions for women. Teaching or nursing. While there were no nurses in my family, I felt it was profession where I could make a difference and also be employed for the rest of my life.
I went to a two-year school and got an associate degree, then a bachelor’s degree, a master’s and finally a fellowship at Wharton. I started out in bedside nursing and then became a surgical nurse. That was perhaps six years of my career. I rose to chief nursing officer. Then senior vice president. I’ve spent most of my years now in leadership positions in healthcare administration—always responsible for nurses, but with other responsibilities as well.
What brought you to architecture?
I went to a large conference in San Diego. CallisonRTKL was expanding its healthcare practice. The firm was being asked to design spaces for all types of healthcare providers, including nurses, and knew they needed someone who really understood how a hospital functioned. Someone with first-hand knowledge. I met the head of the firm’s healthcare team. He said, “I’m looking for a nurse.” I said “I’m looking for a change.” And that is how it all happened.
I spent my first three years working closely with architects, helping them understand how a hospital functions so that we could design hospitals that were as functional as they were beautiful.
What is your role today?
For the last 13 years I have been working directly with clients—the hospitals and their staff including nurses, doctors, technicians, etc. My team helps hospitals move into new spaces. The work we do is called health facility transition services.
We are hired once the design has been signed off on and the project breaks ground. Our job is to look at every single space and every single process—both in the current and the future hospital—and help plan the move and how every professional is going to work in that new space. This can take up to three years.
We manage the transition. We coach people through the entire process of moving. What we do is highly detailed. We handle all of the logistics. The supplies. The equipment. Our work culminates with the patient move—in an ambulance with a nurse, and that’s what people remember most, but its only successful with years of planning.
Keep in mind that the hospital never closes while the transition takes place. There is a period of time when there are two spaces operating at the same time. It’s pretty exciting. We completed our biggest project recently—Sutter Health California Pacific Medical Center Van Ness Campus. We moved 176 patients.
Your trajectory is fascinating. First studying nursing at a time when women didn’t have many opportunities. Then med-surg nursing to hospital administration, finding a new opportunity working with architects to design medical facilities and finally moving to health facility transitioning. You’ve taken a very interesting path.
“Nursing the World to Health” is this year’s theme for International Nurses Day. Today, when I turn on the nightly news, I am reminded of my days as a bedside nurse. These nurses are on the front lines. Their only concern is their patients. I am so proud to be a nurse.
Alice Wainwright joined CallisonRTKL as an experienced healthcare executive known for increasing quality, decreasing costs and boosting revenue. Her management skills and clinical experience directly translate to improved outcomes in her leadership role with CallisonRTKL’s Facilities Transitioning Team. Alice also applies these skills to form long-lasting relationships with staff, physicians and communities.