BSN Alumna Leads Perioperative Services at MedStar Georgetown

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May 28, 2020 – Kathy (Rawlings) Mucci, who earned her BSN at Georgetown in 1985, is now the assistant vice president of perioperative services at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, a leadership role she began in February 2019. 

“I love Georgetown,” Mucci said during a recent interview. “I absolutely loved it when I was a student here. Walking around Georgetown gave me energy. When I step back on campus as an associate at the hospital, I feel that same energy. When I see the buildings and see Healy tower, it puts a pep in my step when I’m coming to work.”

A head shot of Kathy Mucci with a gray background
Kathy (Rawlings) Mucci (NHS’85)

Mucci is a member of the hospital’s executive team and reports to the chief nursing officer Eileen Brennan Ferrell (NHS’75, G’83). Her purview includes the nursing aspects of all 23 operating rooms, several recovery rooms, the sterile processing department, the recovery part of endoscopy, and the procedural recovery room for the catheterization lab and interventional radiology.

Drawn to the OR

As a nursing student, Mucci felt herself drawn to the energy of the operating room. “I wanted to get behind the doors that say, ‘You can’t come back here,’” she quipped. “It was a level of excitement I was attracted to. I always had an attraction to wanting to know what was going on with surgery.” 

After Georgetown, she built her career at various hospitals in Maryland, including in shock trauma and then the OR for heart surgery. By the mid-1990s, Mucci, who is a board certified nurse executive, began managing an operating room. The leadership position prompted her to earn the MBA degree. Since that time, she has held executive-level roles, all while maintaining her focus on the operating room.

“I was hooked,” she recalled about her first OR job. “It was a lot of on-call. You knew you were coming in to save someone’s life. It was impactful. You don’t get to spend a lot of time with your patients, which is the downside for nurses. It’s a different relationship. You’re the patients’ advocate when they can’t be. You’re their eyes and ears and look out for them.”

Leading During COVID-19

Mucci added that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major shift in her and the team’s focus with a lower volume of surgeries occurring at the hospital.

“We had to shut down surgery in my specialty,” she said. “We had to deploy staff when we could. I have 51 staff members that are redeployed to different areas of the hospital. They stepped right up. Some said, ‘I’ll go to the COVID unit.’ Others said, ‘I’ll work nights’ or ‘I’ll work weekends.’ They stepped up to the plate. It makes me proud to work alongside them.”

She acknowledged how difficult some decisions have been given their impact on employees’ day-to-day lives. 

“You never in a million years think you’d be living through something like this and to feel helpless,” she said. “When we say we’re blazing a new trail, we’re definitely laying down history. We don’t have someone in the room saying, ‘When this happened before, this is what we did.’”

Coming ‘Full Circle’

Mucci could not be happier with her role at the hospital and is looking forward to the expansion of OR services in the Medical/Surgical Pavilion, currently under construction on Reservoir Road.

“I’m so blessed that this opportunity came along when it did in my career,” she said. “The executive team here is just phenomenal. There is a level of kindness, responsibility, and accountability — all the things you look for in your leadership team, but don’t always find.”

She said the hospital’s mission of cura personalis, care for the whole person, aligns well with the education she remembers receiving at Georgetown.

“It was a very holistic program,” she recalled. “I remember taking theology classes, physics, and psychology classes. “It really prepares you well to look at the patient in a holistic manner. I was looking at the patient and looking beyond what the immediate disease process was and why the patient was at the hospital. What is the family structure? What is the support system? What else is going on in the patient’s life. What is important to them? I felt more well-rounded.” 

She said the BSN Program gave her “courage.” “I wasn’t afraid to step up and work in [the roles] I’ve had. It gave me the confidence and strength I needed.”

“I feel like I’ve come full circle,” Mucci said, “back home.”

By Bill Cessato