Problem-Solver for Patients and Peers: Mitzie Fudge celebrates 45 years of service

Mitzie Fudge, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, administrative coordinator in The Vanderbilt Clinic, is celebrating 45 years of service with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, but if it weren’t for the wise advice of a nursing school instructor, she wouldn’t be working at VUMC at all.  

“I actually had accepted at Baptist (the current St. Thomas Midtown), but one of my nursing instructors when I was in nursing school talked me into applying at Vanderbilt,” Mitzie said. “I can't remember if he went to school at Vanderbilt or if he taught at Vanderbilt, but he knew several people who worked at Vanderbilt and he said it was a really good place. He said, ‘You really need to go talk to them at Vanderbilt. I think you'll really like it.’ And I did, and I’ve been here ever since.”

When the Nashville native started at VUMC as a young nurse in 1978, what are now Medical Center North and the Round Wing was the main adult hospital. Among the many changes she has seen during her tenure, Mitzie said, one of the biggest changes the growth of the medical center.  

“I started on D6200 many, many years ago when it was part of Medical Center North. [The unit] housed obstetrics and gynecology and plastics at that time. Then when the new hospital was built, we moved there, and it became gynecology and ophthalmology. And now it’s 10 North, the trauma unit,” she said. “I remember when East Garage and Medical Center East were just a gravel parking lot.”

“Technology has also changed a lot,” Mitzie said referring to innovations, such as electronic charting. “Sometimes that’s not a great thing. But nursing is nursing. Making sure your patients are well cared for – that hasn’t changed.”

In her current position, Mitzie said she uses her nursing background to “manage patient flow, making sure that patients get to the right level of care and put out fires.” She said problem-solving is one of the favorite aspects of her job.

“I love solving puzzles, and I love helping people,” Mitzie said. “That’s what I like best about my job.”

“Mitzie is a wealth of knowledge — both historical to the Medical Center and current information on processes, policies of hospital operations and nurse administration,” said Schiara Gonzalez Parker, MBA, BSN, RN, Senior Director of Patient Flow for Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital. “She is a fair judge of situations that require quick decision making and understands both sides of differing perspectives. When I do not know what to do in a situation, I often look to Mitzie as a guide to options for solutions. Mitzie is a strong listener and does listening before speaking. She is very professional with patient families.”

Mitzie said one of her greatest professional accomplishments has been receiving her master’s degree in nursing – and education she said she was able to complete thanks to VUMC’s tuition benefit.

“If it weren't for that, I wouldn't have been able to do it,” she said.