Stephanie Whitaker has joined Mercy Hospital Fort Smith as vice president of patient care services, a role that allows her to support local health care teams while also serving patients and families in the community.
Whitaker joined Mercy in late 2021. She has a master’s degree in nursing leadership and administration from Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.
Like most nurses, Whitaker had a personal experience caring for loved ones who had health conditions before she began her career.
“I did not immediately decide to be a nurse,” she said. “I considered other health care fields and took opportunities to shadow different roles when in high school. The nursing profession provided me the greatest opportunity for schedule flexibility and career growth, which was exciting for an 18-year-old.”
Whitaker has spent most of her career in acute care but also has several years’ experience in public health, where she took on her first nursing leadership role.
“After more than 20 years in nursing leadership and seven years in executive leadership, I have found supporting our health care teams allows me to indirectly serve more patients and families in our communities,” Whitaker said. “My work with Mercy colleagues continues our commitment to sustaining a highly reliable health care system and being leaders in patient safety and quality.”
The expansion of the emergency department and intensive care unit at Mercy Hospital Fort Smith is an exciting project that will be of great benefit throughout the community, Whitaker said. Construction on the project is underway and expected to be complete in late 2024.
“Our community members deserve access to excellent, compassionate health care, and I am excited to be part of the Mercy Fort Smith leadership team increasing access to that care,” she said. “It is my privilege to serve this community and our Mercy caregivers with any talents and skills that have been given to me by God. I am humbled to be part of this team during such a wonderful and historical time in health care for the River Valley.”
Whitaker and her husband, Seth, a minister who serves as bereavement coordinator at Mercy Fort Smith, have two children, Eli and Ava, who are both active in Greenwood High School’s academic and athletic programs.