With more than 25 years of experience in top Pennsylvania hospitals, Dr. Mary Frances Suter joins the faculty of Holy Family University’s School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. With a specialty in cardiac and thoracic surgery, Dr. Suter brings vast knowledge of the heart with some local flair, having worked at Temple University Hospital, Jeanes Hospital, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Suter sat down with Holy Family University to discuss how she got into teaching, her classroom philosophy, and her experience caring for cardiac patients.
HFU: Can you tell us more about your background and how you made your way to Holy Family University?
MS: “I firmly believe that nursing is a calling. It is gift to have an intrinsic desire to care for another. It is not a profession for everyone and those who are chosen are blessed! It changes a life every day, in a big or small way—simply because you got up is a gift. I didn’t realize that my purpose was to be a nurse until I started down the path. Once I found my passion and purpose, it completed me. I’ve been very fortunate in my career and have had opportunities that few have had. I was a Nurse Practitioner in the early 1990s when we didn’t practice in acute care.”
“I received my DNP in 2010 and that opened doors that nursing has never traveled. The trifecta is clinical, leader, and scholar. To date, I have had an amazing career as a clinician, which I still do, and a leader. I was missing one piece and that lead me to Holy Family University—I have always loved teaching. I found I was as passionate about teaching as I am about nursing—I guess it’s the caring. I taught as an adjunct faculty prior to leaving the executive suite to come here. The question I get is why did you leave? The answer is simple—it is my purpose!”
HFU: What is your classroom philosophy when teaching the newest group of nurses?
MS: “My philosophy for teaching is actually inspired from my favorite leadership book, Leading with Humility by Rob Nielsen. I actually cried when I read it! Yes, a leadership book! This book offers insight into the Pope’s humility and the 12 principles that arise from it. It helps readers to lead with grace and authenticity. The intent of the book is to inspire leaders to adapt these principles in the workplace. I adapt these principles in the classroom. My most memorable professors who helped me carve my path were leaders, not in the sense of holding a title or having the corner office, they were the professors who were transformational leaders. They created an inspiring vision of the future. They motivated and inspired people to engage with that vision.”
HFU: You’ve done a lot of work in Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery Services and Cardiovascular Service Line Integration. What is it about these areas that intrigue you?
MS: “First and foremost, the heart is most important organ in the body. I loved the fact that for a period of time my role allowed me to become an integral member of another person’s family. I loved resecting the back to clean margin and give people a whole new life. I loved holding a heart in my hand, donated by someone else’s tragedy, and implanting it into another person so they could live a life for two. I loved the resilience of patients, their family, and their faith.”
HFU: Do you have any memorable stories from your days as a nurse or educator?
MS: “Many, many—the most important thing is that there is not one day when I took care of a patient that I didn’t love what I did.”
HFU: Do you have any hobbies you like to do for fun outside of Holy Family?
MS: “I LOVE LOVE LOVE to cook! The joke in my family is that they have never had the same meal twice!”