Emerging Leader: Jennifer Bitz

Bitz is a unit director at UPMC East.

Bitz Dec20

Throughout her career, Jennifer Bitz has pursued leadership roles for one key reason: to help empower and engage new nurses.

“I’ve always tried to be at the bedside trying to set the example while at the same time trying to educate and help our newer nurses grow professionally,” says Bitz, unit director at UPMC East. “I really want to get nurses excited about bedside nursing and maybe help them remember why they went into nursing to begin with.”

On her unit, Bitz has helped create a culture where negativity, cliques and “tattling” are not tolerated.

“We really have to work to educate our newer nurses — not run and tell on them for doing something wrong but educate them in real-time,” she says. “That’s a big focus for us.”

She also loves infusing the unit with fun with events like Waffle Wednesdays and Taco Tuesdays.

“It’s time they can sit down, get off the floor, and socialize a little bit, and I get to talk with them, too,” she says.

Bitz’s lead-by-example approach has been particularly helpful during the pandemic as she’s made it a point to help her team at the bedside of infected patients.

“They could see (that and say), ‘Well, Jen’s not scared, so it must be OK. We can do this,’” she says.

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