Some young adults idolize rock stars, actors and athletes. Leann Zerkel, vice president of Nursing at SSM Cardinal Glennon, recalls looking up to another type of celebrity early in her career.
“When I was a nursing student, I remember seeing the Sister who was the head of nursing walk through the halls of Cardinal Glennon and thinking ‘Ooh,” Zerkel recalled with a laugh. “It just seemed like such an amazing job.”
Zerkel has a new title, but she is not new to SSM Cardinal Glennon. She started her time here as a nursing student in 1985 and accepted a job as a staff nurse soon after. Zerkel worked as a staff nurse for a number of years on 4 North (at that time an Adolescent Unit) and later the TCU, where she took her first management job, as a patient care manager.
Zerkel was the director of 2 South and 3 South for six years, until taking the position of interim director of nursing in February 2011.
She has built her entire career here, but Zerkel didn’t see herself working in a pediatric hospital for the long-term. SSM Cardinal Glennon changed that.
“As soon as I walked in the door, I knew this was the place for me,” Zerkel said. “It just felt like home. It was so bright and cheerful, and I loved being with the kids and seeing them so happy and smiling.”
Zerkel is excited for the opportunity to help shape the place she has called her work home since her career started.
“My biggest goal is to unify pediatric nursing practice throughout the SSM Health Care – St. Louis network,” Zerkel said. “We are a flagship of pediatric care, but lots of people come into contact with pediatric patients throughout the network. We want to make sure that practice of care and policies are consistent, and to build a greater sense of camaraderie.”
Another priority for Zerkel is development and engagement of nurses.
“I want to work with other CNEs to develop: ‘What does excellence in nursing look like at SSM?’” Zerkel said. “After being hired and working, how can we develop and engage nurses and give them the tools to progress throughout their career? We want to promote excellence so nurses are always learning and improving the care that we give.”
Outside of the hospital, Zerkel enjoys spending time walking her three dogs and with her family.