Community Impact

Women’s History Month: Beth Burks

March 19, 2024

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Beth Burks
Nurse Manager, Family Birth Center at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center

Beth Burks was a veterinary tech student when she first joined Legacy at the urging of her father, who was a carpenter and painter at Good Samaritan Hospital. A shift in jobs later sent her to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center where she worked as a trauma room unit secretary.

After years of watching nurses performing just modality of care, she had a revelation.

“I thought, why am I training to be a vet tech where I am expected to fill every role in a clinic setting, when I can be a nurse and find excellence in an area that I am most interested in,” she said.

Beth shifted gears. She entered nursing school and three years later joined Emanuel’s Family Birth Center. Today, Beth, MSN, RN, is the nurse manager for the Family Birth Center at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we spoke to Beth about what drives her, how she’s overcome obstacles being a woman in health care and the advice she has for aspiring nurses.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the people I work with. They fill my cup and daily bring me joy. I like finding solutions or helping them find solutions for the things we’re struggling with on the floor. I also love the interaction of our team. In our unit, everyone is about the moms and babes, and I love celebrating their successes when they get their first newborn IV, catch their first precipitous delivery, or witness their first cesarean. I also feel so honored to be a source of comfort and support during times that are hard, and sometimes devastating.

What motivates you to come to work each day?

I am brought to work each morning by gratitude. The ability to join a group of people who have put our community before themselves. This is a group of healthcare providers that desire to provide care, gather resources for others, and show up to support patients during vulnerable moments in their lives. The act of showing compassion and empathy to those I share community with is humbling and a great honor.

Who has inspired you during your 33 years at Legacy?

I feel like I have been surrounded by so many incredible managers, directors and even charge nurses that have demonstrated what effective leadership looks like. The encouragement, guidance and direction I have received over the years has molded me into the leader I am today. The best part of that is I am always learning, always looking for opportunities to lead with authenticity and with honesty.

How have those people helped shape your career?

I used to tell people my biggest goal in life was to be a mother. I found that many of the same skills I used as a mother translated easily into the workspace. The ability to use mediation, encouragement, and nurturing. to help people understand themselves to better work together, produces more effective communication and high functioning teamwork. So many leaders I have worked alongside and looked up to have cultivated these qualities in me.

What challenges do you face as a woman and leader in health care?

As a woman, I am compelled to lead with my heart and with compassion, yet sometimes the world wants me to accept and follow the hard decisions and ignore my gut. I have learned repeatedly, that despite the decisions being made or suggested, leaning into what I know to be right, good, and honest; that is the hard work.

How do you overcome those obstacles?

Despite the difficult feelings I had after the closure of the Family Birth Center at Mount Hood, when I was approached about coming back to manage the center, I found myself setting aside those feelings to put all my strength and heart into reopening our unit.

My focus was pulling our team back together and creating a space that the women of East County could once again come for excellent, compassionate and incredible care. The people I serve, both patients, nurses and providers, these are the people that I choose to spend my life with, working together and alongside.

What advice or words of encouragement would you give a young woman pursuing a career as a nurse?

There are so many opportunities to learn and grow professionally and personally. There is a specialty and a place for everyone. Whatever it is that catches your attention, there is a way to get there in nursing. I like to tell my mentees you can be a mom and a nurse, but to look for balance and you will find greatness in compassion, and excellence.
Beth Burks thumbnail image

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I can be a nurse and find excellence in an area that I am most interested in.

Women's History Month

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