Stacey Garnett, MSN, RN, PMH-BC, NEA-BC, FACHE, is the vice president and chief nursing officer at Sheppard Pratt, the nation’s largest private, nonprofit provider of mental health services. In the fast-paced and ever-evolving behavioral healthcare field, nursing leaders are crucial in ensuring efficient operations, a supportive work environment for nurses, and providing quality patient care.
Among these dedicated professionals, Garnett stands out as an exceptional leader whose unwavering commitment to serving people in crisis has made a significant impact on the nursing community. As the demand for behavioral healthcare services increases and burnout and staffing shortages weigh on nurses, she serves as a staunch advocate for patients and nurses alike—she recently received the Maryland Hospital Association’s Advocacy Champion Award for her role in helping to pass SB 960/HB 611, a bill that ensures adequate hospital staffing in Maryland.
As a minority leader with more than 30 years of experience in nursing and nursing administration, Garnett continues to lead and inspire future generations of gifted nurses. Her commitments to nurturing talent and diversifying her industry have not only enhanced the capabilities of individual nurses but have also contributed to the overall strength and competence of behavioral health nurse practitioners throughout the state of Maryland and beyond.
The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.
Meet Stacey Garnett, vice president and chief nursing officer at Sheppard Pratt.
Garnett recognizes the importance of continuous professional growth and exhibits this in her commitment to teaching and mentoring the next generation of skilled nurses. In addition to leading Sheppard Pratt’s nursing team, she also serves as an educator and mentor. Garnett consistently enables her staff, students, and mentees to use educational and professional development opportunities to foster their growth and advancement.
As a leader who has overcome challenges, Garnett recalls being the only African-American student in her undergraduate nursing program. She now serves as a fierce proponent for diversity in the nursing field, creating opportunities for Sheppard Pratt to partner with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). She hopes that others will see representation in the field and continue to seek advancement opportunities.
Garnett’s success and dedication to excellence inspire her staff, students, and mentees. She understands that high-quality care begins with a personal commitment to perseverance in adversity. In 2019, she mentored a student struggling to pass her exam to become an LPN. After working with Garnett to master the material and conquer her testing anxiety, she passed the test and currently works as an LPN in hospice. Garnett’s tenacity and zeal energize her followers to achieve incredible feats.
Championing Patient-Centered Care
At the core of Garnett’s success throughout her 30-year career is a deeply rooted dedication to patient-centered care. As a motivated and passionate leader, she challenges and inspires her staff to prioritize each patient’s care, dignity, and progress during some of the most vulnerable times in their lives. She emphasizes the importance of building meaningful connections with patients, their families, and their communities. By actively listening to feedback, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, and prioritizing patient satisfaction initiatives, she establishes and maintains a patient-first mindset within Sheppard Pratt’s nursing staff. This holistic approach to patient care makes Sheppard Pratt a distinguished leader in behavioral healthcare and a place where patients can expect to be treated with the utmost care and respect.
As a transformational leader with a proven track record of generating and building relationships, managing nursing hospital operations, engaging and collaborating with physicians, and maintaining successful regulatory reviews, Garnett maintains a strong focus on delivering exceptional care. By setting these high standards, she has cultivated an environment encouraging continuous improvement and professional development among Sheppard Pratt’s nursing staff.
Garnett played a fundamental role in the launch of Sheppard Pratt’s new Baltimore/Washington Campus hospital in June 2021. Her colleagues have heralded her ability to think strategically as she responded to issues immediately and directly to open the new hospital to the public in June 2021. Her tenacity and innovation during the inception of the new campus, which offers five inpatient units, day hospital programs, and a Psychiatric Urgent Care, both set and maintained a precedent for a high standard of care across the hospital’s operations.
Collaboration and Communication
Effective communication and collaboration are vital in any healthcare setting, but these factors are critical in behavioral healthcare. Garnett truly has a heart for the patient, frequently interacting with them directly on units. She understands and appreciates that everyone has a journey and a story—by actively listening to the people she serves, she gains insight and perspective into the lives of others to help them overcome life’s most difficult challenges. When patients feel their voices are heard, they feel empowered to share their stories—these stories can reveal crucial information about a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
Garnett fosters a culture of open dialogue and teamwork, where patients, their families, and staff value her as someone with whom they can discuss difficult issues openly, honestly, and without judgment. She actively encourages nurses to voice their ideas, concerns, and suggestions, ensuring that all perspectives are valued and considered. By promoting transparency and maintaining strong lines of communication, Garnett has facilitated a collaborative environment that empowers nurses to work together, resulting in streamlined processes and improved patient care.
Garnett is a beacon of hope for a nation desperately needing passionate and skilled behavioral health nurse practitioners. Her leadership inspires current and future nurses to provide patients with the high-quality care they need and deserve.