Sam Davis, Jr., MHA, RN, CNOR, is the new director of the ANA-Illinois Board of Directors. He was elected to a two-year term, beginning in 2023.

Davis is Associate Vice President of Perioperative and Interventional Services at Rush University Medical Center. His responsibilities include ensuring his nursing team has the resources and support needed for exceptional patient care.

“In my role, one of the most significant aspects is making sure nurses have the tools they need to do their jobs. My job is to ensure they’re supported and have the resources that they need to provide exceptional care for our patients,” says Davis. “What tools or resources do we have to put in place? How can we optimize those resources to ensure we have seamless operations?”

In his position as a leader in a large hospital system, he understands how crucial it is to collaborate across multidisciplinary teams in order to ensure the best patient care.

“What is inspiring about this role—or even challenging—is engaging with the multidisciplinary teams that play into our success. It’s not just our nurses. It’s not just our doctors. It’s a very fine-tuned dance that happens with many disciplines to ensure our patients remain safe while they are under our care.”

And this is one dance that’s always worth the effort.

“It is very rewarding when patients write about how our team provided them with the best care,” Davis says. “At the end of the day, that is what we all strive for.”

Making an Impact

Joining the board was a natural choice for Davis, an experienced and intentional leader in the nursing profession.

“I knew that joining the board would be a wonderful opportunity for me to put my experience and expertise to use and make meaningful contributions to the nursing profession,” he says.

He’s especially interested in getting involved with the legislative process to advance nursing.

“From a legislative standpoint, what laws or bills are directly impacting our practice as a profession? For us to move forward and make changes in our nursing profession, we have to think more globally and outside of the department, outside of the organization, and at the state and national levels.”

“Thanks, Mom”

Davis got a firsthand look at nursing at a young age. His mother was an operating room nurse, and he grew up hearing his mother talk about her work—and he even got to watch occasionally.

“From time to time she was able to bring me in the operating room to observe surgeries and say, ‘Stand in that corner and do not touch anything blue; I’m going to let you observe all of this.’ Over time it really piqued my interest.”

However, when he started college, he originally planned to be an anesthesiologist. Organic chemistry changed his mind.

“Taking organic chemistry was certainly a challenge for me and I knew I could not do another four years of courses like this! So, I said, ‘Let me look at some alternatives to med school.’”

Nursing caught his attention again, and he was impressed by the level of autonomy, opportunity, and career options available to nurses.

He finished his degree in biology at The Citadel, a premier military college in South Carolina, and then applied to nursing school.

There, his decision to pursue nursing was more than confirmed.

“In nursing school, I knew ‘This is where I want to be. This is great. This is my passion. Make a meaningful impact on people. This is what I love. Thanks, Mom, I appreciate it.’”

Growing as a Nursing Leader

In his first job as an OR nurse at the Medical University of South Carolina, he felt the pull for leadership. He was quickly promoted to the charge nurse role and began his master’s degree in healthcare administration (MHA).

“I thought to myself, ‘If I want to be an effective leader, I need to know about the business side of the hospital.’ How does a hospital actually run outside of the OR? I loved it, but I wanted a more holistic perspective on hospital operations and expand my knowledge of perioperative and interventional operations.”

Looking Ahead

Continuing his leadership growth and knowledge is still on his mind—a decade after working as a nursing leader in a variety of organizations.

Now he’s hoping to begin his DNP in the Transformative Leadership program at Rush University.

“I want to obtain additional knowledge from a system leadership perspective, specifically for nursing. I want to take that knowledge and tie all of that together in order to be a capable and competent senior nursing leader. I want to lead change at a system level. That’s my goal.”