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Nurse in the spotlight: Elizabeth McKenna

In our final "nurse in spotlight" for the 2020 World Health Organisation year of the nurse and midwife, we highlight our talented, clever Perioperative Nurse Unit Manager, Elizabeth McKenna, who plays a pivotal role in managing the smooth running of theatres at Mulgrave Private Hospital.

Profiling our Perioperative Nurse Unit Manager Elizabeth McKenna

As the World Health Organisation's 2020 international year of the nurse and midwife draws to a close, it feels fitting to highlight one of our super stars; Perioperative Nurse Unit Manager Elizabeth (Liz).

Nurse in the spotlight: Elizabeth McKenna

Liz commenced her role as Perioperative Nurse Unit Manager with Mulgrave Private Hospital just over a year ago, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience from her 18 year nursing career.

In describing what being a nurse means to her, Liz words it beautifully;

To me, being a nurse means giving all you have, energy, knowledge, strength and compassion to help our patients when they need it the most...
  • What does being a nurse mean to you? To me, being a nurse means giving all you have, energy, knowledge, strength and compassion to help our patients when they need it the most. Always ensuring you are giving the highest quality of care is vital for good patient outcomes. To me, this means being aware of advances in practice. They are happening all the time. There have been so many changes to perioperative practices across the 18 years that I have been nursing. It is exciting to think what nursing will look like in another 20 years.
  • What inspired you to become a nurse? When I was in school I loved biology and biomechanics. My desire to be a nurse stemmed from that love of wanting to know how things work. I have always had a strong desire to advocate for people who can not advocate for themselves. The epitome of this is being the voice of a patient who is undergoing surgery.
  • What do you enjoy most about your job? I used to be a cardiothoracic Associate Nurse Unit Manager (ANUM) and would feel great accomplishment from assisting the surgeon by giving them all the instruments they needed during their surgery, without them even asking. I took great pride in this. Now as a nurse unit manager, I get excited about different things. I feel I have achieved when my team is complimented or a patient thanks the staff involved in their care. Often theatre staff are thought of as the invisible people, no one really sees us, or understands the crucial and unique role a perioperative nurse has.
  • What are your proudest nursing achievements? I think my proudest achievement is completing my masters in perioperative practice. It took three years whilst working full time with two children. I often thought of giving up but I am so glad I didn't as it has opened many doors for me academically, within areas of healthcare I had never considered before. My final masters assignment was published in the Australian College of Operating Room Nurse (ACORN) journal and has since been downloaded 800 times in 25 countries worldwide. I also reviewed and was cited as co-author of five standards in the 2020 release of the ACORN standards, the guidelines for all perioperative nurses in Australia.

    You can read Liz's journal here:

  • Tell us about your nursing journey and experiences: I worked in the NHS for 10 years before coming to Australia. I emigrated here with my family in 2012 and I love it. Nursing in Australia is very different in many ways but the vision I had there, and here, is no different;
Be the best you can be, be professional, committed, honest and respectful to all you meet along the way, no matter their role and designation. I am very proud to be leading the perioperative team at Mulgrave. We are all working with one of Mulgrave's core values at the forefront of our minds; people above all else.

Mulgrave Private Hospital is very privileged to have Liz's intelligence, talent, ambition, passion and dedication leading the perioperative team and ensuring high quality patient care to everyone that comes through our theatre doors.