Mildura hospital chief reflects on how nursing strengthens his leadership approach

Terry Welch says while he has progressed in his career to CEO level, he hasn’t, and never will, lose his connection and focus of being nurse.

A proud La Trobe alum, Terry joins a growing number of Mildura CEOs who hold La Trobe qualifications.  Having studied a Bachelor of Nursing and Graduate Diploma in Healthcare Administration with La Trobe, Terry says his entire thinking is always guided by Mildura Base Public Hospital’s (MBPH) clinical performance.

“I proudly today tell people that I am a nurse running a health service.  Having a background in nursing has enabled me to understand the intersect.  I always ensure decisions being made have due consideration of all aspects, including most importantly - clinical outcomes. As a nurse, we have inherent empathy and I believe this is a strength of my leadership style, and ultimately the organisations I lead.”

Previous to his role as CEO at MBPH, Terry was the CEO of Maryborough District Health Services where he oversaw a commitment to a $100 million health campus masterplan, was a finalist in the Premier’s Medium Health Services of the Year award and runner up Australian Healthcare Week CEO of the Year.

Terry believes nurses often underestimate their abilities and has always been a strong advocate for all his staff to extend themselves.

“I will hear a nurse say, ‘I’m just a nurse’ and I say to anyone thinking this - that is so untrue. Nursing is an amazing profession and builds all the strengths and qualities needed to be a leader. Empathy, emotional intelligence, sector experience and the ability to connect and lead people. I am a prime example of being not an A grade student, but someone who, through nursing, gained the skills and experience, with academic advancement, that has enabled me to successfully progress.”

A great believer in work, life balance, Terry says Mildura is a beautiful city.  With the unique aspect of Mildura’s hospital transition from private to public, coupled with it being Victoria’s only tri-state health service, Terry says he couldn’t be prouder of the 1000 strong staff he is leading.

“The work life balance, the relaxed feel within the community - are all amazing strengths of this city.  MBPH staff and what the deliver every day as a health service is amazing. We are by no means perfect, but as CEO, I’m looking to lead a program of continuous clinical improvement and advancement, to build a culture focussed on delivering great care in an amazingly supportive workplace.”

Reflecting on his time at La Trobe Terry says it was a great phase of his life and he’s now able to continue that relationship with the University in his role as CEO.

“The learning and balance, or at time misbalance with social events, made for lifelong memories while I was at uni.

“MBPH’s relationship with La Trobe University is critical.  With La Trobe, we want to build on the amazing work to establish the first tristate academic program to build the workforce for our future. We see this as critical for our ongoing workforce needs.  We want to do everything we can to give local people access to courses.  We also want to work more with La Trobe on professional development to upskill our staff and collaborate in research of rural health priority areas.  A particular passion of mine is improving education opportunities for Indigenous Australians and I hope to work with La Trobe in this space and produce more indigenous health workers in our community.”