Emory Healthcare's Mary Gullatte: Reaching One Person at a Time

Mary Gullate "Think about what you can do within your circle of influence. Think about the positives in life and what you can do to make a difference one life at a time." These are the guiding words of Mary Gullatte, associate chief nursing officer at Emory Healthcare's Emory Crawford Long Hospital.

In the first grade, Mary, a resident of Mississippi at the time, received her immunizations at school. She remembers the aroma of cleansing alcohol as she waited in line and the crying of her fellow classmates, who were frightened that their turn was next. Mary, on the other hand, was void of fear; she was captivated by the African American nurse with a perfect white uniform and a warm smile and soft voice, who kindly calmed each child down. “I was so enamored by her presence,” says Mary. “She took the time to embrace all of us. I thought, ‘Wow, she’s just wonderful.’”

It was this life-changing experience that set the stage for an extraordinary nursing career. Now, Mary, who has been with Emory Healthcare for 31 years, has established the benchmark for nursing excellence, having received several awards, published multiple papers and two books, and emphasized community outreach and volunteering.

Doctoral Program Across the Miles

Recently, Mary received her PhD in nursing with an emphasis on cancer research from the University of Utah’s College of Nursing. Thanks to a grant from the National Cancer Institute and Emory Healthcare's tuition reimbursement program, the cost of this three-year, full-time program was minimal.

When she thinks of her fellow eight classmates from the program, Mary places them throughout the country. Due to unique teleconferencing capabilities, the students were able to meet virtually. However, Mary completed her research locally, looking at the influence of religious and spiritual beliefs on the delay of breast cancer diagnosis for self-detected breast symptoms among African American women.

“I am committed to continuous learning,” explains Mary when describing her education, which also includes a master’s degree in nursing and post master’s adult nurse practitioner program, both from Emory University. “As an employee here, I had a great opportunity to pursue these degrees and benefit from our organization’s tuition reimbursement program.”

Guidance From Experience

In addition to formal learning, Mary has always had mentors who have led her down the correct road, and she now strives to fill that role for other nurses. When asked what advice she gives them, she replies, “I tell them to follow their passions. Think about what you want to do and where you want to be in five-year intervals. First, determine a specialty and how to become involved in that specialty through association membership and education. Then, think about your hands-on career – how you want to serve that specialty. At Emory Healthcare, we focus on education, service and research. These three areas can help you determine how you want to serve.”

Easy would not be the adjective she would use to describe balancing career, education and family, but with dedication, family backing and support from Emory Healthcare, Mary has remained steadfast in her mission in life: Nursing. For Mary, Emory Healthcare is “collegial, progressive, visionary and supportive,” the same words her fellow team members would say describe her. At Emory Healthcare, all team members can partake in this shared commitment and excel together.