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Analysis

What it Takes to be a Nurse and CEO

By Jennifer Thew RN  
   December 13, 2016

A. Besides the obvious, which is the clinical background and really understanding what it takes to give safe, quality care that is service-oriented, I think I understand the struggle and what the staff needs to be able to deliver that.


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That allows me to garner a certain level of respect from the team because they know I've been where they are.

Q. Do you think nurses who become CEOs face unique challenges?

A. Yes, in some respect. It's been easier for me personally in terms of mastering the role because I have the advantage of understanding the intricacies of the clinical world. I think it has been difficult—I've accomplished it but it's taken a while—to garner the respect as a businesswoman as well as a clinician.

Not every nurse leader or CNO can transition from the clinical world into the administrative world.

Q. Do you think there's a major difference between CNO thinking and CEO thinking?

A. Absolutely. You have to still have the understanding and the insight of the CNO, but there's a completely different skill set that you have to master in order to be a CEO.

You have to learn that balance. You can't look at it from just the eyes of a nurse. You're everyone's voice and you represent everyone—the clinical side, the dietary side, the environmental side, the construction side, the legal side.

There's a whole scope of skills and negotiation abilities that you need to have to balance all of that.

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


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