McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster School of Nursing hosts chief nursing executives from across Ontario

By Amanda Boundris
Published: December 6, 2011
From left at a forum for chief nurse executives (CNEs): Colleen McKey, Winnie Doyle, Helen Brenner, Vanessa Burkoski and Janet Davidson
Director of the School of Nursing's Leadership and Management Program Colleen McKey, far left, facilitates a panel discussion involving, from left: Winnie Doyle, vice-president of clinical services and chief nursing executive, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton; Helen Brenner, vice-president of patient services and chief nursing executive, Northumberland Hills, Cobourg; Vanessa Burkoski, vice-president of professional practice and chief nursing executive, London Health Sciences Centre; and Janet Davidson, president and CEO, Trillium Health Centre.

The McMaster School of Nursing (SON) and its Leadership and Management Program hosted a full day forum in Toronto recently for chief nurse executives (CNEs) from hospitals across Ontario to address changes to their role as a result of recent legislation.

The Excellent Care for All Act focuses on quality and accountability for health care providers including executives. As part of this legislation, the chief nurse executives are now non-voting members of hospital boards and also hold membership on quality committees, which oversee the hospitals' quality improvement plans.

The forum included expert presentations, panel discussions, and group discussions on the challenges, opportunities and actions required by the nurse executives in their governance roles in Ontario hospitals.

"This forum is to provide a venue to bring CNEs together to learn about their new governance role and an opportunity to share information, experiences and next steps," said Colleen McKey, associate professor and assistant dean of the SON (academic resources), and director of the nursing school's interprofessional Leadership and Management Program. The program has over 15 years experience providing leadership education across all sectors of health care to local, national and international audiences.

Debra Bournes, Ontario's chief nursing officer, said that since CNEs are now non-voting board members, their new role "is really a role of influence" that requires them to bring good leadership, networking and negotiation skills to the table. She added that because all board members work toward the same goal, chief nurses now have a strong opportunity to contribute to the discussion on "what's right for patient care, what's right for patient safety and what are we going to do about it."

Doris Grinspun, executive director of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, said it took negotiation and major efforts to obtain the CNE's new role on the board and hospital quality committees, and that with it, "We will see a strengthening of quality."

Catherine Tompkins, associate dean of the SON, said it was important for McMaster to be proactive and take a lead role by organizing the forum.

"With the Leadership and Management Program, we are known for being innovative and responsive to the changing health care landscape, and this forum was an opportunity for the program and the school to provide education and leadership development," said Tompkins. "It's also a fulfillment of Colleen McKey's vision to move leadership forward."

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