6 CNO-to-CEO Strategies

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, June 18, 2013

Why don't more nurse leaders go after hospital CEO jobs? Too many nurses underestimate their potential and believe that landing a chief nursing officer position means that they've reached the pinnacle of their career.

Connie Curran, EdD, RN, FAAN, hears a common refrain among chief nursing officers who are frustrated with their hospital's top leadership: "How many CEOs do I have to teach to do their jobs?"

Curran has ready reply: Why don't you apply to be a CEO?

Most often, though, nurses don't go for it. In a profession where more than 90% of the workforce is female, nurses are still seriously underrepresented in CEO positions.

Why is this? Although there are certainly external factors that hold women back from pursuing executive-level positions—sexism is still alive and kicking, folks—there are also internal factors that hold them back. Curran says female nurses who move up the ranks into hospital leadership positions most often end up in chief nursing roles—and then stop there.

"I think that a lot of people really underestimate their potential, and if we don't see somebody else doing it we think it can't be done," Curran says.  

Her challenge to chief nurses? Dream of being the CEO.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.


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