Chief Nursing Officers
Renee Berg | Monster Contributing Writer
Chief nursing officers (CNOs), who lost some clout in hospital reorganizations during the ’90s, are again immersing themselves in the leadership of healthcare organizations throughout the country.
“Because of issues in the industry with recruitment and retention and some practice issues, organizations feel there needs to be nursing leadership at the executive table to move nursing forward,” says Susan Hallick, CNO for Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania. “It makes a statement about the importance of nursing in the system.”
CNOs typically report directly to a facility’s chief executive officer or chief operating officer and oversee hundreds of nurses and nurse managers. A CNO’s duties are vast and can include strategic planning, reporting to a board of directors, helping develop and oversee the annual budget, handling staff and patient issues, checking on new payroll systems and making clinical rounds.
Laura Caramanica, vice president of nursing for Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, says the nurse executive’s unique task is to “stay close to the needs of patients and staff, and help the other members of the executive team and board understand the implications of their decisions.”
Ascending to CNO
Mary McFadden is the assistant administrator for patient-care services at Kaiser Permanente’s Sacramento Medical Center in California. She started her career trajectory toward a CNO post three years into her nursing career and spent 17 years overseeing a variety of departments and patient populations before moving into her first CNO job. She counts her broad experience as an asset.
“You need to develop a skill and knowledge base that encompasses several different patient populations,” McFadden says. “Having done that was helpful to me, and I think it would be for anyone who wants to assume the role of nurse executive.”
Ascending to a CNO position requires eight to 10 years as a registered nurse, with several years spent in a managerial role, such as department supervisor or manager. While CNOs typically have a master’s degree in nursing administration, healthcare organizational development or business, business degrees are fast becoming the trend as potential CNOs seek a well-rounded background.
For instance, Hallick has a master’s in healthcare administration, McFadden has a master’s in nursing administration, and Caramanica has a PhD with a concentration in management.