Colleges Help Launch Covenant Nursing Leadership Series

Participants in Covenant Health’s first Nursing Leadership Series class are, front row from left, Teresa Gomez, Crystal Barnett, Heather Jett, Liz Clary, Suzanne Miller, Stephanie Nichols. Back row from left, Victoria Niederhauser (dean, UT College of Nursing), Donna Hamby, Carolyn Shipley, Trish Chaloux, Lori Myers, Teresa Fugate, Ann Henderlight, Lynn Cagle, Jill Strevel, and Kate Atchley (UT Center for Executive Education). Not pictured: Dedra Whitaker.

Two colleges at UT have partnered with Covenant Health to train today’s nursing leaders to navigate the fast-changing world of health care.

The College of Nursing and College of Business Administration launched the new Covenant Nursing Leadership Series in January. Fifteen participants—ranging from unit managers to chief nursing officers—are engaging in an intensive eighteen-day leadership development series over the course of nine months.

The program is the first of its kind in East Tennessee and represents a major investment by Covenant Health in developing world-class nursing leadership.

“Advanced leadership training is essential for today’s nursing workforce,” said Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing. “Nurses, who represent the largest sector of the health care work force, need to step up and lead change that improves health, health outcomes, and quality of life.”

UT faculty are educating these nursing leaders in strategic planning, financial management, leading change, effective communication, and other topics. Each participant also will research and present a strategic project related to Covenant’s future success, as identified by Covenant’s executive leadership team. The UT faculty are providing feedback and guidance to the Covenant nurse leaders on their strategic projects.

College of Business Administration faculty include Kate Atchley, Randy Bradley, Jasen Gundersen, Hallerin Hilton Hill, Keith Leitner, Don Lighter, Chuck Noon, Cindy Raines, Mike Stahl, Harsh Trivedi, and Priscilla Wisner. The College of Nursing faculty involved in the program include Mary Gunther, Deborah Honey, Lisa Lindley, Carole Myers, and Victoria Niederhauser.

“As the speed of change in the health care sector increases and shows no sign of slowing, the need for adaptable, innovative, and systems-oriented leaders is paramount,” said Atchley, who serves as faculty lead for the Covenant Nursing Leadership Series. “The nurse managers selected for this program are ready to take on this challenge.”

Atchley noted the curriculum was carefully developed with clinical leaders and subject-matter experts to immerse participants into the strategic leadership realm and assist them in making critical and lasting positive impacts at Covenant Health.

Jim VanderSteeg, Covenant Health executive vice president of hospital operations, told the participants that to be successful in an ever-changing world, it is necessary to adapt to different things and have thinkers across the organization.

“We’re going to need people who are curious,” he said. “We’re going to have to have people who are creative. The goal of this program is to help you challenge yourself and say, ‘How do I become a better leader in a world that is very different?’”

Participants represent facilities across Covenant Health.

Headquartered in Knoxville, Covenant Health is a community-owned health system providing comprehensive health services throughout East Tennessee.

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