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Dell Oliver, R.N., B.S.N.
Director
Chief Nursing Officer
Development Program
HCA Inc.
Nashville, Tenn.


When you’ve got 180 chief nursing officer posts to keep filled, turnover can be an expensive problem—especially if many of your CNOs are nearing retirement. In January, to address a nurse executive turnover rate of 18 percent, HCA Inc. added CNO to the list of leadership development programs available to qualified managers who want to take on greater responsibility in the system’s hospitals.

Oliver: We wanted a program to develop a pipeline of nurses to fill those roles from within the organization. We had more than 70 applicants for 13 slots.

A competency assessment is done when participants enter the program, and they set goals based on that. Eighty percent of the learning is done with targeted work assignments within their facility, 10 percent is formal training sessions here at HCA, and the other 10 percent is spent one-on-one with their mentor.

They don’t just shadow the CNO; they manage units and projects and take on budgeting, finance and human resource issues. They really function at a CNO level. The program lasts for 12 to 18 months, after which they’ll be targeted to take on a CNO role based on an evaluation.

Hospitals who want to build a similar program need to develop the leadership competencies that they’re comfortable with and have mentors to go with them.

—Kara Olsen