PICU nurse manager swaps jobs with Riley president




Jessalynn Parsley and Gil Peri trade offices and responsibilities for the day. “This isn’t about me,” she said. “It’s for my team, and for Gil to get to see the work they do every day.”

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

Monday morning looked a little different for Jessalynn Parsley, clinical co-manager of the pediatric intensive care unit at Riley Children’s Health.

The same could be said for Gil Peri, president of Riley.

The two swapped jobs for part of the day – Parsley working out of the president’s office and Peri rounding with clinicians on the seventh floor of the hospital after meeting with Parsley’s co-manager, Sheldon Rippee.

Before you dismiss this as a gimmick, know that both Parsley and Peri took their assignment seriously – mostly.

“I can’t do my job from my office,” Peri said, as he waited for a set of XL tall scrubs to be delivered to the executive offices so he could at least look the part on the PICU. “I gotta do my job with the team.”

Before he left Parsley in charge, he joked, “The only thing you can’t do is sell the place.”

Escorted by PICU shift coordinator Misty Johnson and clinical nurse specialist Tracy Spitzer, Peri said he was looking forward to learning more about the PICU.

This is the seventh job swap Peri has been part of at Riley since his arrival last summer. It’s an invaluable learning experience, he said.

“Today, I get to walk in Jessalynn’s shoes, so I can be closer to patients and closer to team members. Meetings are important, but for us to really do our work as leaders, we have to be with our team,” said Peri, who champions the One Team approach as it relates to all things Riley.

While there is substantial benefit for him, it’s also a chance for team members to talk about “the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said.

“I come back usually with a whole new perspective on what’s going well, what’s not going well and how we need to focus and support our teams.”

For Parsley, who submitted her name for job swap consideration during a leadership meeting, it’s an opportunity to see the ins and outs of daily hospital administration.

“It’s more than my single lens of the pediatric ICU, but that wide view of the whole hospital operation,” she said, casting a glance at a huge whiteboard in the president’s office filled with goals and multiple areas of focus.

When it comes down to it, she acknowledged, it’s a way for the president of Riley to see her team in action and to appreciate them the way she does.

“This isn’t about me,” she said. “It’s for my team, and for Gil to get to see the work they do every day. That’s the reason I was willing to put my name out there.”

As Peri was getting the rundown from Rippee on his agenda for the day and greeting team members on the unit, Parsley was meeting with administrative leaders, including Dr. Brian Wagers, associate chief medical officer for Riley.

Dr. Wagers presented Parsley with what appeared to be a hospital crisis and talked through next steps in her role as president, including mobilizing a crisis response team, before acknowledging it was just a test – one of many scenarios a hospital administrator might face any day.

After joking that she might want her old job back, Parsley said the president would pull his team together to respond in an emergency, just like she does with her own team.

Parsley also got a look at recent supply chain process improvements during a morning tour.

“It was fun to go down there and be introduced as the president and ask them how we can support them in their job,” she said.

That’s what Peri was doing as he talked with Rippee about patient volume, staffing and hiring methodology, before getting background from Spitzer on a patient being treated after a serious car accident.

Peri rounded with a multidisciplinary team of clinicians headed by pediatric intensivist Riad Lutfi as they discussed the patient’s care. Not all of them knew that Riley’s president was listening.

To a layperson, it was an impressive demonstration of team, excellence, compassion and purpose – the four pillars of IU Health.

“I wish I had your skills,” Peri told the assembled group after they finished. “Phenomenal job. If that was my child, I’d want you caring for them. I know you do this every day, but it’s simply amazing. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.”

Rippee, who joined Riley a year ago, didn’t miss a chance to brag on the team.

“I’ve worked in a few different locations in several states, and I will tell you this PICU team is top-notch,” he said. “The best team I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.”

As one of its “fearless leaders,” Parsley was recently honored with the 2021 Daisy Nurse Leader Award for “navigating rough waters in the midst of crisis.”

While she says she doesn’t need the recognition, she appreciates that her team nominated her.

“What I do and why I come here every day is because of my team – to support them to be able to give the best care to their patients. To have a little recognition to know that they feel that support and are appreciative means the world to me,” she said.

“We have our challenges, but they make it easy to continue to lead when they’re willing to jump in and try new things. They know they’re here for those patients, to get them through some of the worst and roughest parts of their life.”

Monday’s job swap ended with lunch, during which Peri and Parsley could honestly say they got a taste of a day in the life of the other.