Jackie Williams-Porter already knew that she wanted to pursue a career in nursing by the age of 12. Now serving as the unit director for Psychotic Disorders, Crisis Stabilization and Adult Neuropsychiatric units within the Sheppard Pratt Health System in Towson, Williams-Porter utilizes all she has learned over her 19-year career as a nurse, from her earlier work in a nursing home to the 17 years she has spent in Sheppard Pratt.

(Photo Courtesy of Jackie Williams-Porter)

(Photo Courtesy of Jackie Williams-Porter)

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At Sheppard Pratt, Williams-Porter serves as a mediator and liaison for the staff. She works closely with different disciplines including attendants, service chiefs, nurses, mental health workers, social workers, rehabilitation staff and secretarial/clerical staff. Her goal is to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care and that the staff has the proper resources to do their jobs effectively. She also conducts annual performance appraisals and reinforces policies and procedures.

Williams-Porter has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Towson University. After working in the role of charge nurse at Sheppard Pratt, for several years she furthered her education by attending the University of Phoenix and earned an M.B.A.

What is your favorite part about being unit director?

“I enjoy working closely with patients and mentoring the staff in hopes of meeting their particular needs and providing care to patients in any way possible.”

How has your education and training prepared you for your current role?

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“Obtaining my M.B.A. helped me gain a better understanding of business fundamentals, particularly in finance and management. I also learned the masteries of interpersonal and professional skills (communication, teamwork) that are essential for effective leadership. My time spent as a charge nurse helped me develop my leadership skills, and I continue to hone these skills by attending annual seminars and workshops on interpersonal communication to keep learning new ways to improve working relationships across the board.”

What do you do to continue your education and training?

“[I attend] leadership training provided by my current supervisor. [Other ways of strengthening my knowledge include] giving supervision and getting involved with projects relating to improvement processes, seminars, conferences and ongoing leadership training. I conduct weekly nurse management meetings and annual retreats for team building.”

Do you have any advice for others looking to enter this field?

“I would advise others to make certain that they have a passion for nursing and the total care of patients. Try volunteering at a hospital that specializes in a particular field of nursing as a way to test the waters. It would also be beneficial to have a share-day at a hospital or medical facility that offers opportunities to learn and grow in the nursing profession. I find it really important for nurses to be compassionate and dedicated to the profession.”

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Laura Catherine Hermoza has a lifelong love for writing. In addition to serving as a contributor to various media publications, she is also a published novelist of several books and works as a proofreader/editor. LC resides in Baltimore County.