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Q&A: Ochsner CNO Talks Career Strategy

 |  By Jennifer Thew RN  
   May 12, 2015

Dawn Pevey Mauk, who became CNO of Ochsner Medical Center at age 28, discusses how being open to opportunity and willing to be uncomfortable helped her rise to COO and system nursing chair by the time she was 35 years old.

I'd describe Dawn Pevey Mauk, MBA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, as a nurse leader who is ahead of the curve and ahead of her time. She holds a leadership trifecta of chief nursing officer, chief operating officer, and system nursing chair at Ochsner Medical Center in Baton Rouge, LA. What's impressive about this is that Pevey Mauk became CNO at age 28 and rounded out her resume with the rest of these accomplishments by the time she was 35 years old.

To put that in perspective, in its "2011 Nurse Executive Role Delineation Study," the American Nurses Credentialing Center reported that 85% of its nurse executive respondents were between the ages of 45 and 64 and only 1.7% were between the ages of 25 and 34.

Dawn Pevey Mauk,

Pevey Mauk recently spoke with me about her faster-than-average career trajectory, her experience as a young CNO, and her thoughts on developing future nurse leaders. The transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.

HLM: What type of nursing did you go into right out of college? Did you always know you wanted to go into management?

Pevey Mauk: I went to work at the critical care unit at Charity Hospital in New Orleans straight out of school. I worked there from 2003 to the end of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina came through New Orleans and the facility closed.

I thought [I was going to go the] CRNA route. In those two years, I had a mentor in the unit who was very open with me. He felt that I was made for management and that I would not enjoy CRNA school. [He said] I had the ability to be collaborative with people, but to be in charge when needed and to make decisions quickly. I was 15 months out of school when [I was] asked to serve in a charge nurse capacity so I was exposed to the management path very early in my career.

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

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