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Down Home and Homegrown

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center nurses, from left, Maria Koszalka, RN, EdD, vice president of patient care services; Mary Ann Green, RN, MS, CNAA, director of education and practice; and Terry Bennett, RN, BSN, CHCR, director of nurse recruitment, are advocates of succession planning programs.

In today’s tough economic climate, no healthcare organization can afford to maintain a revolving door of nurses.

Effective strategies for nursing recruitment and retention are more important than ever. But it can be especially difficult to fill management and administrative positions with qualified nurses who fit well into an organization and are ready to hit the ground running.

With so many budgetary and safety concerns, only about 33% of hospitals have active succession planning programs, according to a 2007 report from the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Combine an aging nursing workforce with these factors and a perfect storm is brewing up a major shortage of nursing managers and leaders.

“Succession planning is absolutely critical,” says Mary Ann Greene, RN, MS, CNAA, director of education and practice at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore. “We’ve got to look forward and prepare those nurses who are going to replace us.”

A Place to Advance
Bayview has worked in conjunction with the Advisory Board Company in Washington, D.C., to develop an intensive program to grow their own nurse managers and leaders.

“It’s expensive and difficult to recruit nurse managers, and it’s also difficult to assimilate them into a complicated health system,” says Maria Koszalka, RN, EdD, vice president of patient care services at Bayview. “We needed to create an infrastructure to support professional development and opportunities for advancement and an environment where nurses wanted to advance.”

The Frontline Nursing Leadership Academy was developed for nurses on the forefront of patient care. The program, which was named Best Practice in the Nation by The Advisory Board Company, provides a coordinated curriculum with classes structured to build a foundation to develop and exercise leadership skills. Course topics include elevating team performance, exerting influence at the front line, frontline critical thinking, and realizing leadership opportunities at the front lines of nursing.

“Staff nurses know what the issues are, but they need to know how to fix them,” Greene says. “In this program, they learn how to problem solve, work together in a team, use their influence to make change, and make decisions and act on those decisions.”

Terry Bennett, RN, BSN, CHCR, director of nurse recruitment at Bayview, agrees. “The experience has really changed the frontline nurse interactions with colleagues and managers, and they are much more supportive of new programs and ideas.”

For mid-line managers, the Nursing Leadership Academy was implemented to help them build a toolbox of management skills they need to be effective managers and beyond. The coursework covers key business and leadership topics, such as elevating staff and department performance, facilitating effective teamwork, growth through innovation, improving financial decision making, leading through vision, and managing amid diversity.

The Frontline Nursing Leadership Academy and the Nursing Leadership Academy include coaching by in-house leaders or managers. If a nurse manager participating in the Nursing Leadership Academy is skilled at leading change but not effective at holding people accountable, he or she works with their director to develop a growth plan to improve that skill. Another key to succession planning is the clinical ladder program, which requires the completion of a BSN and a yearly leadership or research project that impacts the unit. Nursing projects have included establishing an electronic nurse education and credentialing tracking program and a medication reconciliation program.

“When nurses do these things, they start to demonstrate leadership skill and become our clinical nurse managers and educators of the future,” says Koszalka, who noted as a result, four nurse managers, a CNS, and 16 nurses in the clinical ladder program have been promoted. A nurse manager also became an assistant director of nursing and is now a director of nursing.

For more on this story, visit Read more about succession planning online at

Catherine Spader, RN, is a contributing writer for Nursing Spectrum.

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By | 2020-04-15T14:43:54-04:00 March 23rd, 2009|Categories: DC/MD/VA, Regional|0 Comments

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