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3 Questions I Want to Ask Nurse Leaders at the CNO Exchange

Analysis  |  By Jennifer Thew RN  
   November 01, 2019

I will ask nurse leaders to share details on the solutions they are using to tackle the nursing profession's biggest challenges. 

What's weighing on the minds of nurse leaders around the country? I'll get to find out during the 2019 HealthLeaders CNO Exchange at Ojai Valley Inn in Ojai, California, from November 13–15.

As a moderator of the event's roundtable sessions, I get to hear firsthand what nurse executives see as the most pressing healthcare issues and how they are navigating those challenges.

Below are three questions I look forward to asking that touch on the most-pressing topics that challenge nurse leaders, plus some of the topics that various nurse leaders will present to fellow Exchange participants.

1. As experienced nurses retire, how do you deal with the loss of skill and knowledge they take with them?

I'm looking forward to hearing about some of the new and innovative ways nurse executives have found to fill those knowledge gaps, particularly the presentation by Erin LaCross, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, chief nursing officer at Parkview Regional Medical Center and Affiliates in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on the organization's Emeritus Nurse program aimed at providing nurses an alternative to retirement through new work options.

I've also been hearing from nurse leaders that it's getting more and more difficult to recruit nurses with experience, particularly in a nursing specialty.

This summer, data presented during UCSF's webinar, Nursing Demand and Supply in California: Current State & Strategies for the Future, echoed that sentiment. 

"A consistent story that seems to be emerging is that, the overall numbers look roughly in balance, but there is an imbalance in what employers seem to be wanting and what they are finding in the workforce," David Auerbach, PhD, director, research and costs trends for the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies at Montana State University, said during the webinar. "You have a lot of very experienced baby boomer RNs who are leaving the workforce. Employers [want] to replace that experience but [have] a large pool of new graduates who don't really have what they want."

2. What strategies have been effective in creating a thriving nursing culture?

CNOs want to develop a culture of nursing that allows clinicians to bring excellence to their jobs. I'm eager to hear the details of effective solutions from different organizations that have created thriving nursing cultures.

"There are patterns and trends that would lead you to believe—at least our theory is—that if you can improve the team member experience, then the other things will get better too," Linda Hofler, PhD, RN, NEA‐BC, FACHE, senior vice president and nurse executive at Vidant Medical Center, told me when I spoke with her for the HealthLeaders article, 3 Ways Nurse Leaders Can Change Workplace Culture.

During our Exchange presentation sessions, Hofler will share her work on organizational culture at Vidant, while Katie Boston-Leary, MHA, MBA, RN, BSN, CNOR, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer at University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center, University of Maryland Capital Region Health, will discuss her work on systemic civility and nurse empowerment.  

3. What care models or nursing roles has your organization implemented to improve clinical outcomes, quality metrics, and financial measurements?

Because of the many changes taking place in the healthcare industry, particularly the move toward value-based care, the need for nurses to deliver patient care in new ways is imperative. How nurse leaders advance nursing practice and patient care delivery forward will depend on how they tackle multiple factors, including new care models and nursing roles, technology, the use of APRNs, and creative quality initiatives.

I'm interested in hearing about new approaches to achieving these goals. How are nurse leaders questioning existing processes and practices to improve nursing practice and outcomes?

For example, Sue Rees, DNP, RN, CPHQ, CENP, CNO–Inpatient at Wisconsin-based UW Health, will discuss how her organization is trying to reduce excess days among its inpatient population. 

The conversations will take place November 13–15 at the Ojai Valley Inn in Ojai, California. If you're interested in joining future CNO Exchanges, please email

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

Photo credit: Linda Hofler, RN, CNO, Vidant Medical Center. Photo by Spencer Selvidge

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