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Every year from May 6th to 12th, nurses are recognized for their service and dedication to caring for others and improving the health of patients nationwide through National Nurses Week,  In honor of National Nurses Week, we wanted to shine the spotlight on Tarinder Khatkar, Chief Nursing Officer at Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center.  Be sure to thank the nurses in your life this week, and always.  Their dedication to patient care is admirable and their compassion is unmatched!

Tarinder Khatkar, MSN/AM, RN, CHEP joined Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center as chief nursing officer (CNO) in October 2022. Khatkar earned her degree as a registered nurse from American River College in Sacramento; her BA from Delhi University, India; her bachelor’s degree in nursing from University of Saint Mary; and her master’s in nursing administration from the University of Aspen. She is actively pursuing a master’s degree in business administration and is a member of the American College of Healthcare and American nurse credentialing center.

Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Tarinder.  After our conversation, I cannot express how very lucky our community is to have a leader with her passion, experience and drive helping to lead Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center.  She is a nurse at heart, with a strong passion for operational excellence, both of which shined throughout our conversation.

Briefly describe your work/education history and what brought you to your current position?

I have been a nurse for close to 20 years.  I started my career in the Central Valley, before moving to Texas and then to Los Angeles.  I was not actively looking for a new opportunity when I was asked to interview for my role at the Queen.  And, as I am a firm believer of the saying, that if things are meant to happen, they will, God landed me at Providence.

I feel very blessed to work here, as no institution had ever resonated with me the way Providence did, which says a lot about the mission, vision and values of our organization and our leadership team at the Queen.  Terry (Wooten, Chief Executive) is a faith driven leader and lives the mission day in and out.  The mission, vision and values at Providence are something that really resonate with me.  There is also an understanding throughout our leadership team that knowing, caring for and easing the way of our caregivers leads to exceptional care for our patients.  I truly believe caregivers are the heart and soul of our hospital and are essential to providing compassionate care to our community.

Can you talk about when/why you made the decision to go into your current career? Was there a specific defining moment or realization? 

When people say was this your calling, I can truly say that it was.  I was meant to be a nurse. In addition, before I even graduated, I had a job with Sutter Health, which was a wonderful experience.  I knew right away I wanted to get involved in the bigger vision, so I could make meaningful change for the betterment of nurses and patients.  When I worked in Los Angeles, I was a chief operating officer and a chief nursing officer. My passion for operations leads me to thrive in that space. Nursing came naturally to me, so I have been blessed with the ability to view things from both sides.  It has helped me to be at the leadership table and be a voice for nursing and patients collectively.

Before I knew I was opening service lines, including cardiac, neurology, orthopedic, oncology, and transformative care amongst others.  It brought me a lot of satisfaction to grow service lines for our patients, so they did not have to travel long distances to receive care.   Instead, they could go to the hospitals in their own community, where they felt comfortable and safe.  It was rewarding to see the growth of the organization and the fulfillment for our nurses, along with exceptional care for patients.  Soon I was part of the congress for shared governance(1) and then part of the Magnet Journey(2) and Malcolm Bridge award(3).  Being part of that pathway to excellence drove my desire to do my best.

1-The shared governance structure is a nursing practice model which is a hallmark of engaging frontline caregivers and empowering them to take an active role in shared decision making with leaders.

2-The Magnet designation is the nation’s highest form of recognition for nursing excellence and a benchmark for the quality ofcare patients receive.

3-Malcolm Bridge, Quality award is the highest level of national recognition for performance excellence that a U.S. organization can receive. 

What is the biggest challenge in your job? 

In healthcare overall, nursing has faced several challenges, and not just from the past few years with Covid.  Nursing is the most challenging, stressful profession.  We see the worst; we see the best.  We laugh, we cry. We take a lot in.  Nurses are very empathetic, and that can build in your heart over the course of years.

Nursing is going through a lot of changes throughout the nation with the new government regulations, labor shortages and organizational closures. It is an industry that keeps changing and will continue to change.  In addition, new nurses are coming out of school with a different thought process.  We need to understand what will make them feel valued because they are our future. With fewer caregivers joining the industry each year, we need to build our organizations around those who choose to be part of the future of nursing.

To reach these nurses, we must use some out-of-the-box thinking.  How do we value the nurse at the bedside?  How do we add technology to help that person?  How do we use that person’s ability and professionalism to the utmost capacity?  And how do we do all this in a way that benefits the patient?   This is a collective challenge that all nurses must come together on.  Technology can innovate the workforce; help reduce burnout and inspire our teams to find creative solutions to new challenges.

What are the biggest rewards?

I have always said I LOVE MY JOB.  I can’t imagine what else I would do.  I love when I round the units to visit with caregivers and see they are having a good day!  I love hearing from patients when they share, “your nurses are amazing.”  When you see physicians and nurse collaborate, it is magic! Things just flow and you can build amazing things from those relationships.   If I see someone who has the caliber to be excellent, I like to bring it out of them.  For me, when I see smiles from my caregivers and patients — even if it is just one person —it makes my day better.

But I also like to see when things that are not flowing. So there is an opportunity to help flow things! There is not any world that exists without good and bad.  Challenges move us forward and help us not become stagnant.

What is a typical day like for you?

Lots of meetings and meeting people in their setting!  We work on how we can manage the organization, move the dial, care for patients and caregivers.  Rounding in patient care areas makes me smile and fills my cup.  I like to see our caregivers in their workspace and have them see me, make that moment valuable where I get to learn something from them.  It is important to connect with my people.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in their career?

Care for others like you would want to be cared for! Nursing is a privledge for those who are starting their nursing careers, know it is rewarding and it will help you have a purpose in your life! Truly life changing for some of us.

What is something you want the public to know about Providence Queen of the Valley?

This is your community hospital!  We want to be there when you need us.  We want to innovate; we want to fulfill your needs.  We are here to care for you.   Patients do not need to go outside the community to receive the care they need.  We love to serve our community!

What are three words that describe you?

Resilience, Excellence and Love

What is your personal motto? 

Never knowingly do anything that harms someone. Do no Harm!

What is something the “lights you up”?

My kids!  My work!  The more I have to do, the more I light up!

In celebration of National Nurses Week, is there anything you would like to say to or about your team at Queen of the Valley?

As a nurse myself, I know it has been hard and our industry will continue to have its ups and downs.  However, we are nurses for a reason:  we give our best, we care from the heart, and the reward that we receive is more than we give.  The patient who walks out of that bed and goes back to their family expresses gratitude like no one else.  You will get so much from the smile of a family member that says goodbye to you when their loved one is discharged from the hospital.

To care for patients in their time of need, it is our strength.  To provide that safety is a reward and privilege that we have.  I think we should cherish that.  Embrace the hardship. Love each other. Give more love and get love in return.  Let’s work together toward making this place better, making health care better.  Fight for it.  Do not give up hope. Talk.  Ask for help.  Know we are here for each other.

I could not thank our team enough.  I admire the amount of courage our nurses have in them to do what they do, day and night. They build their lives around their patients. I thank them for giving a part of themselves to their coworkers and patients.  They do magic every day  — we see it!


Learn more about Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center 

Be sure to follow Providence Queen of the Valley on Facebook, where they regularly update the community on their latest news.  This week will be filled with wonderful tributes to the nurses of Queen of the Valley!