Mineral Wells Index
By TYLER MASK
Some spend their lives away and later on regret decisions they have made. From life choices and career decisions to time spent with loved ones, not everyone can say they have truly enjoyed every minute. For one Palo Pinto General Hospital staff member, the opposite is true.
PPGH Medical and Surgical Nurse Manager Vicki Bragg, BSN, MBA, NE-BC, a 40-year veteran of the field, says she would do it all over again.
Family is Bragg's crowning achievement, she said. She has been married to her best friend for 42 years, has two successful children and five grandchildren, has multiple degrees and a life full of accomplishments.
Family, even at the beginning of Bragg's career, proved to be her favorite accomplishment, as she chose to marry and have kids before finishing her education – something that may have stopped many, but Bragg didn't really view it as an obstacle.
“You can do anything you want to do,” Bragg said. “You just have to put your mind to it. I had a very supportive husband and his parents were very supportive – not that mine weren't – but they would get the kids from school when I was going through, getting my [bachelor's].”
So, all at the same time, Bragg was a wife, a mother, a student and an LPN, working as a student for part of the day, and as nurse for the other part.
“I used to just have the patients totally confused because I would be at the hospital in my school uniform from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., [then] change into my regular uniform from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and sometimes have the same patients,” Bragg said comically. “It was confusing.”
In 1988, about a year after Bragg earned her bachelor's, she and her family moved to Texas because of a job opportunity her husband had received working with Goodyear.
After a period of time, the Bragg's decided to open their own Goodyear shops, of which they now own two, one in Springtown – where they currently reside – and one in Weatherford.
During the first nine months in Texas, Bragg worked at Campbell Memorial Hospital, now Weatherford Regional, until she got an urge for something bigger.
“Then I thought, 'I've got to try these big hospitals,'” Bragg said. “I landed in one in Fort Worth.”
She served in Fort Worth for a number of years, where she scaled the ranks, landing multiple manger and director positions. Once she had had enough of the “corporate” hospital life, which was nearly a year and a half ago, she finally decided to head back to a more rural environment. Enter PPGH.
“It wasn't that I really disliked what I was doing there, I just thought a smaller facility would be nice again,” Bragg said. “So, instead of driving [Highway] 199 with people honking and making hand gestures, now I can drive 'cross-country' and watch deer and turkey. It's just nice [and] peaceful.”
Although Bragg enjoys the hometown feel, she maintains a high pace, setting an example for all of her employees. On a daily basis, she is responsible for managing the medical and surgical floor, which involves personnel management, budgetary responsibilities, staffing, staff education and being a physician liaison. She is also responsible for assuring that quality care is performed in compliance with all hospital policies and procedures, standards and regulatory agencies, while constantly utilizing quality improvement activities and core measures. If being a manager wasn't enough, Bragg likes lending a helping hand, giving freely of her nursing abilities when she is needed.
“It's not beneath me to go out and help the floor,” Bragg said. “In fact, if they're short staffed, I have left at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. in the morning, and come back and worked the night shift from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. … I think some people go into management, and they are never at the bedside again. They don't have a clue what is going on. They don't keep up with the new [medications] and what not. But I still like that part. I still like that patient contact.”
As a nurse, you have to wear multiple hats, Bragg said, and she absolutely loves it.