Karen Hill started out at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, KY, as a teenage candy striper. Today, she's a visionary vice-president and chief nurse executive and winner of the 2010 HCPro Nursing Image Awards: Image of Nursing in Leadership.
Hill's career at Central Baptist has spun 26 years, and through her exemplary leadership, she has created a vision for caring and nursing excellence that has twice been recognized with ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® designation.
As a visionary leader, Hill has empowered staff nurses and leaders with the creation of staff-managed professional RN and LPN career models, a five-level leadership development program, and the development and adaptation of a peer-based staff interview model for every nursing leadership position. The hospital exhibits an enviable nurse vacancy rate and has been named one of the top 10 large employers in the state of Kentucky every year from 2005.
A recent employee engagement survey found that more than 90% of the nursing staff reported they were in agreement with the mission and values of the organization.
Hill supports nursing professional development through such hands-on endeavors as providing mentoring support to nurses interested in being published, the construction of "quiet rooms" on various nursing units for staff and families to meditate and reflect, and an annual graduation/certification celebration to celebrate staff who have achieved new degrees and/or professional certifications.
In contrast to the all-too-common practice of promoting nurses into management positions and watching them sink or swim, Hill created a leadership orientation plan to ensure new nurse leaders receive the support they need. New leaders are given the opportunity to meet with various content experts to learn more about how nursing works with other disciplines and they spend part of orientation shadowing staff members and clinical house supervisors to gain a better understanding of operations in their particular unit.
Through the support of the leadership development curriculum and mentorship opportunities, 60% of the leadership positions within nursing in the last two years have been filled by internal candidates.
Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits www.StrategiesForNurseManagers.com and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at email@example.com.