Elizabeth Moore: ‘I’ve never been afraid to say yes’

Elizabeth Moore, RN, BSN, MBA

Elizabeth Moore, RN, BSN, MBA, is a third-generation nurse. Her dad entered nursing as a second career. Moore’s grandmother, Esther Bechtel, became a nurse after graduating from University of Iowa in 1939.

And while the mission of nursing remains much the same over multiple generations, the technology has drastically changed.

One of those advancements is ECMO, or Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, a life support machine. People who need ECMO have a severe and life-threatening illness that stops their heart or lungs from working properly.  

Moore, associate director of the Heart and Vascular Center at UI Hospitals & Clinics, first learned about ECMO while working as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse in the early 2000s.

“After taking care of a few babies that were on ECMO, it sparked my interest. I took that leap of faith, put in my application, and joined the ECMO team.”

— Elizabeth Moore, RN, BSN, MBA

Thriving in the unknown

That career defining moment sent Moore in a new direction, one that would change her life forever with the hospital’s need for ECMO coordination to support the addition of an adult lung transplant program.

“As a neonatal nurse, we had teeny tiny babies that you can literally hold in the palm of your hand. “Then all of a sudden, I was learning about adult critical care,” she says.

Yet Moore learned she thrives in the unknown. She began training and helped start the adult ECMO program in 2005.

She was on call the night University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics put its first adult patient on ECMO. Flash forward a couple of years and Moore teamed up with a physician from Hawaii, Mark Ogino, MD, who was focusing on ECMO simulation.

Ogino asked Moore to help him train a group of physicians at an Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) ECMO Training Course in Atlanta, Georgia. Ten years later, she’s still heavily involved in the organization, serving as the Education Director.

"It had been happenstance moments where I've met amazing people, being in the right place and at the right time. I've never been afraid to say yes to very intimidating opportunities. That fortunately have all turned into an incredible professional journey for me.”

— Elizabeth Moore, RN, BSN, MBA

In the early days of adult ECMO, hospital leadership questioned the viability of the high dollar program. At one point, University of Iowa Health Care was one of just 30 adult ECMO centers. But cost remained a concern.

“From the clinical perspective, I knew how valuable this program was to Iowans, but I didn't know the business language to state my case and protect its place at UI Hospitals & Clinics,” says Moore. “The return on investment, of a program like this, has a value beyond the dollars and cents associated with the procedure of supporting a patient on the machine.”

So Moore pursued an MBA, specifically an executive MBA. She wanted to learn from a cross section of leaders outside health care. Moore knew she’d need to help evaluate profitable programs, determine how to maximize them, and to figure out how to reduce costs. Moore’s MBA has helped her accomplish these goals.

Nursing opened doors

Saying yes to new opportunities keeps Moore passionate about her career path. She doesn’t have a “typical” day, but says her personality prefers that. Moore appreciates all those who have helped her. 

“I have been fortunate to have mentors that recognize my passion and potential beyond my credentials or titles. They have learned what drives me professionally and have helped to open doors that have allowed me to explore and grow as a leader and healthcare professional,” she says.

As the Associate Director for Heart and Vascular, she is responsible for developing and overseeing all clinical and nursing operations of the cardiovascular service line across UI Health Care, including ECMO Services. 

As the ELSO Education Director, she has been working diligently for the past several years, as a part of a global panel of ECMO experts, focusing on standardizing ECMO education internationally. 

So how does she keep up with all the commitments?

“I don't sleep,” she jokes. “I've been very fortunate that I found things that excite me and that I'm passionate about. A career in nursing has opened so many doors that I didn't even know existed when I chose this path.”