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Spotlight on Walden // Jun 24, 2022

Ever to Excel: Charles Lapsley empowers nurses to grow their careers

Charles Lapsley

Now, more than ever, Charles Lapsley, RN and Walden MSN graduate, knows firsthand it is essential for nurses to gain business knowledge and the skillsets to create a greater physical, mental and emotional connection to their work — and ultimately provide the best quality of patient care.

At the helm of Trauma, Emergency Services, Critical Care and the Firefighters Burn Center at Regional One Health in Memphis, Lapsley oversees 300 FTE’s and five managers. The 328-bed hospital is one of busiest trauma centers in the country and the only Level 1 Trauma Center and verified burn center in the Tri-state area serving a 150 mile radius.

“My mission is to ensure that our team is fully equipped with the knowledge, training, and resources necessary to provide quality patient outcomes. We are the safety net to a large population of people facing a multitude of challenges from all walks of life,” he says. Last September, for example, his team cared for eight victims of a mass shooting at a Collierville grocery store.

In his role, Lapsley is the human bridge to professional development opportunities. He strongly believes in mentoring and using a collaborative, synergistic approach to promoting diversity and inclusion. This leads to best practices, reduces turnover, improves professional competence, job satisfaction and patient care. The result: The future of nursing is dependent on health care providers who are committed to their profession, Lapsley says.

With his trademark bow tie, this dynamic hands-on leader can be found on the frontlines walking the hospital hallways. He’s also been recognized by the hospital’s executive leadership for the development of safety initiatives, throughput efficiencies, sepsis protocol development, and improving the standard of care in Emergency Services. In addition to his role helping to run hospital operations, financial stewardship, staff education, process improvement, and meeting organizational targets, he has chaired and participated on numerous hospital committees/task forces, city, and county collaboratives.

A registered nurse for more than 20 years, Lapsley, 47, is originally from Miami, and earned his Master of Science in Nursing from Walden University in 2018. That same year, he was also named an honorary member of the White House Medical Unit.

His call to the health care profession came during his childhood. During his high school days playing football, he thought about being a physical or occupational therapist. Nursing didn’t enter his mind because, “I did not see many males serving in the nursing field.” His mother was a schoolteacher, his uncle a fireman and his sister was in pharmacy school. He says the voices (and a college counselor) kept calling to him that “nursing was the wave of the future and there was a shortage.”

His true calling came to him when he was working his clinical rotation at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach.

“I was caring for an elderly woman who was embarrassed that she had soiled herself,” Lapsley recalls. He comforted and assured her that he’d want someone to help his own grandmother in that situation. She smiled and proceeded to allow him to get her cleaned up. “It was then that I knew this is where I should be.”

It’s the personal touch like this that he brings to his care that team members appreciate. As he rounds on his teams from multiple service lines, nurses praise him for his leadership presence and impact. They often joke and ask if he is in staffing as he can be found starting IVs, mopping floors, or completing any other task to support the team in getting the job done.

Being a leader is about your actions, not your title, says the father of two young boys Charles III 13, and Avery Carter 8. They are a Walden family, as his wife Trina of 17 years also holds an MSN from Walden and serves as the director of quality and risk at Encompass Health.

He shared advice for prospective nurses and nursing students. “Nursing was one of the best decisions I made in my life. It has afforded me opportunities for growth and ultimately developed me into the man I am today. Nursing is a profession that is dynamic, innovative, fulfilling, and built on a simple principle of compassion.” He suggests prospective nurses ask themselves these three questions:

  1. Why do you want to nurse? Money cannot be the motivating factor!
  2. Can you provide care for a stranger the same way you would want to be cared for? An unbiased non-judgmental spirit is a necessity.
  3. Are you the family member that naturally cares? Every family has one.

“You have to be willing to walk the walk and touch patient’s lives in helpful, meaningful ways,” says Lapsley.