New surgical services manager at LF hospital begins molding her team

A good nurse manager is like a coach, an experienced leader adept at managing personnel and putting people in situations where they can excel. That’s precisely the qualities that the new manager of surgical services at St. Gabriel’s Hospital possesses.

Miriam Baer comes to St. Gabriel’s Hospital after 27 years of surgical nursing experience in the Twin Cities. A graduate of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, she served on the staff at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital for nearly 30 years and, more recently, was a surgical nurse at Fairview-University Hospital.

Baer’s main interest outside of her career has been serving as a rowing coach. She coached teams at the Minnesota Boat Club, the University of St. Thomas, the University of Minnesota and Macalaster College. She’s interested in starting a rowing team in Little Falls, when she acquires the necessary support.

Baer sees some similarities between coaching and serving as a manager of an operating room. “They’re very similar in that both involve dealing with a wide variety of people and personalities,” she said. “Really, an operating room staff and a rowing team both are like microcosms of life. The interpersonal skills you develop when you’re blending a group of individuals into a ‘team’ are very important for both positions. One of the challenges is getting people focused on the same goal which, sometimes might actually be easier to do in sports than in our jobs.”

Born in Canada, Baer grew up in northwestern Minnesota. She’s currently evaluating the challenges and opportunities in her new position and anticipates that some changes may be forthcoming, but no overhaul is necessary.

“I’ve been busy gathering information,” she said. “The challenges are not that different from other positions I’ve held. We want to keep costs down and still maintain a happy staff. We need to be efficient at work and still have good relationships with our surgeons. We want to get our team functioning at a high level. I think we have a great group of people to work with.”

In the meantime, she’ll continue exploring the possibility of establishing a rowing team in Little Falls.

“I recently saw an article in the paper that said that the rowing team in St. Cloud is the farthest north in the state,” Baer said. “That won’t be the case for long, if I have my way.”

The moral of this story: when managers or coaches believe strongly in their “teams,” don’t underestimate what they might accomplish.

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