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According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, nursing is one of the top jobs in Illinois. So now is the time to shift gears. Whether you’re currently a nurse or thinking about pursuing nursing as a career goal, you might want to explore where nursing can take you. To get an inside look at what it takes to be a chief nursing officer, we talked to Debra Albert, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at University of Chicago Medicine.
Albert’s typical day on the job might include meeting with colleagues in different departments and discussing patient outcomes. She also helps plan for the future and spends time with frontline staff discussing any issues. A registered nurse, Albert has a bachelor of science in nursing, a master’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in business administration. She is currently considering pursuing a doctoral degree.
How has education prepared you for your career as chief nursing officer?
“It has improved my role as a leader, as well as [taught me] how to work on a team. I can look at patient populations and think strategically and globally. My M.B.A., for instance, also helps me understand organizational and healthcare finances, and it helps me manage resources effectively, including staff. My M.S.N. has also aided me with the clinical side of my career.”
What continuing education is required for your role?
“Continuing education units must be fulfilled to be registered as a nurse, and I am required to fulfill specialty certificates as a nursing executive. As part of my continuing education, I need to publish articles and develop my skills so I can remain contemporary in my practice, regardless of the requirements. I also need to demonstrate continuing education; after all, nursing is lifelong learning.”
Which is more important for your role, education or experience?
“For a senior role, the graduate level of education is required. Like all leadership roles though, most of the education is on-the-job training. Development has to happen in a nurse before they can become a chief nursing officer, and that is usually completed through progressive roles. The formal education serves as a foundation for practice, and helps round and expand thinking at the executive level. There is no substitute for life experiences when you’re talking about building and managing relationships, because that is what leadership is.”
Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.