Mary Fran Oskvarek ’89, ’11, ’18

A Special Saint Spotlight for Nurses’ Week AND Teacher Appreciation Week in May

Mary Fran Oskvarek ’89, ’11, ’18 became a registered nurse at the age of 19 after feeling called to serve and advocate for the sick. With time and experience, she was keen to recognize that caregivers need support from leadership teams to be successful and provide excellent care to others. She wanted to become one of those leaders, and was led back to USF to pursue advanced studies…four times, in fact. As the proud holder of four USF degrees, Oskvarek has learned a lot from the University of St. Francis through the bachelor’s in Health Arts that she earned 1989, the  master’s in Health Administration that she earned in 2011, the MSN degree she earned in 2018, and the Ed.D. in Stewardship, Leadership, and Learning that she received from the College of Education at the same time she was completing her MSN. She is quick to acknowledge the University of St. Francis as playing a key role in her success.

What and where is your current job?
I am excited to share that I very recently accepted a promotion to director of nursing services and magnet research at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. In my previous role as manager of clinical operations for day surgery, the post-anesthesia care unit, and the O.R. holding room, I was responsible for the oversight of approximately 25,000 surgical cases annually while managing nearly 100 team members.

What was your motivation for pursuing a doctoral degree?
I have always had a strong desire to continue developing professionally in an effort to support my goal of mentoring others as a leader within an organization. USF’s Ed.D. program and the Stewardship, Leadership, and Learning concentration was an ideal fit for me, given its focus on servant leadership. I saw it as an opportunity to further support my growth within health care leadership and gain additional tools to assist my teams. Servant leaders care for those whom they lead and I find great personal satisfaction in mentoring, guiding and supporting my staff.

How did you know that the University of St. Francis was the right place to pursue your doctorate?
This was an easy decision. I completed my undergraduate degree at USF as well as my M.S. in Health Administration. Along with my doctoral degree, I also earned an MSN in Nursing Administration this past year and all four experiences exceeded my expectation—truly living up to the mission, vision and values of the university. What is most impressive about the university is the support provided by professors to ensure the success of every student. Without a doubt, my educational journey at University of St. Francis has positively influenced my career path and professional success. The Stewardship, Leadership, and Learning curriculum is applicable to all professions and organizations. My cohort included professionals with careers in education, marketing, finance, social work and health care. Skills taught in the development of the dissertation foster critical thinking and the importance of research, while analytics and literature review lend additional support to leaders in all roles. Beyond these skills, the servant leadership dynamic promotes a healthy leader mindset to  compassionately care for those they lead and the organizations they support.

It’s evident that you are passionate about serving others. How has the servant leadership component of the doctoral program influenced your success in your current role?
The ideals that embody servant leadership have helped me to elevate each department I have led. Servant leaders mentor team members to become more engaged, autonomous, and ultimately align themselves to the mission, vision, and purpose of the organization. I am most proud of the relationships that I have developed as a servant leader and how I have contributed to the growth of associates at the hospital including those on my leadership team. As a servant leader, I focus on both the professional and personal health and well-being of my staff. Caring for my team in this manner leads to higher satisfaction within the department, which decreases turnover and improves care for the patients we serve. I appreciate that the professors within the doctoral program are servant leaders themselves. They use their extensive experiences to encourage practical candidate exploration of how servant leaders respond to a variety of situations.

What are five things people might enjoy learning about you? 
1. I enjoy cruising in the Caribbean with my family and fishing in the Northwoods.
2. I was a musician and played trumpet for 10 years, which was how I met my “rock star” husband of 31 years.
3. I enjoy supporting my husband and the various local bands that he performs with.
4. I volunteer at a local homeless shelter twice a month.
5. “Oskvarek” means “bacon bits” in Slovak!