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Credo Award Winner

Credo Award winner Jay Morrison sees himself as VUMC’s utility baseball player, giving structure, process and support so the whole team wins

“I love a challenge and working on something I know is going to be hard because the value is that much better on the back end."

by March 6, 2024

Jay Morrison, MSN, RN, Director of Nursing Practice. Photo by Erin O. Smith.

If you ask Jay Morrison, MSN, RN, what it means to be the director of Nursing Practice, he’ll say he “supports the processes and practices that our nurses in the hospital use every day to provide care.” If you ask his wife, Jamie, whom he met during orientation in 1997, she’d say he’s a nurse in a suit.

Morrison, a Nashville native who started as a staff nurse fresh out of the University of Southern Mississippi, thrives in the tricky space between a problem and a clear direction of impact.

“I love a challenge and working on something I know is going to be hard because the value is that much better on the back end. It isn’t Jay’s work; Jay is irrelevant,” Morrison says, referring to his role. “The structure I help create makes it so that we don’t just do good work now, but good work can continue so that it’s not reliant on a person.”

As an administrator, Morrison impacts the hands that provide care to the patients.

“This to me is the gold,” he said. “We’re all here for the patients, but without the staff that is doing the heavy lifting on the front lines, there’s no care to be provided.”

For his tact, diplomacy, humility and humor, Morrison was recognized with a Credo Award during the January VUMC Leadership Assembly.

“You will often hear individuals say that they are ‘relieved’ when Jay is on a project because they know he will lead it well,” one nominator wrote. “Or you will hear others say, ‘If anyone knows, it’s Jay.’ People at VUMC just assume that Jay is involved because his knowledge is so broad, and he is often asked to manage even the most complex problems.”

Morrison, who was “blown away” by the award, thinks of himself as utility baseball player, not a leader.

“Health care is a team sport,” he said. “My natural tendency isn’t to pick up the ball and make the rules of the game. I don’t want to be the star, but at some point, you may need me, and I’m happy to jump in. First base? I got you. Second? No problem. Pitching? That’s a little dicey. You may not want me there,” he laughed.

Morrison said he’d rather give other people an opportunity to lead and support them to be successful.

“I don’t know if you’d look back over my career and my life and say, ‘Jay is a natural-born leader.’ But would Jay lead? Heck yeah. Did Jay influence? All the time, I hope. But not necessarily from the front,” he said.

Many nominators pointed out Morrison’s gift for mentoring administrative and nursing fellows and senior associates in the adult hospital, taking the time to know each person and helping advance their career. Morrison doesn’t see mentoring as him helping others improve, but a mutually beneficial experience.

“I love to walk through processes, but I rarely have it right,” said Morrison, who has two teenagers, backyard chickens and loves being outside. “Only when we start asking questions of one another do we get to a better place. Mentoring is really just working with others for the common good: Asking the right questions at the right time, and we all learn and improve together. My approach is one of inquisition — let’s work together to figure out what we know and what we don’t know and figure out what the problem is we need to address at the moment.

It’s this spirit of curiosity and collaboration that puts people at ease when they know Morrison is part of a project.

“Jay is the guy who walks into any space where there is complexity, tension, confusion, nothing but hard work, and people look up and say, ‘Thank heaven Jay is here,’” one nominator wrote. “We are collectively so much better because of Jay.”

Elevate, Leadership Assembly, nursing, Jay Morrison, Credo Award