From CEO to CNO: 5 Qs with Ochsner's new chief nursing officer

Tiffany Murdock, DNP, MSN, has a well-rounded background in healthcare, starting her career as a nurse tech. In the nearly 20 years since, she's served in numerous leadership roles, including as the first female CEO of Singing River Health System in Ocean Springs, Miss. 

In late August, she stepped into her new role as vice president and chief nursing officer of Ochsner Health — a role in which she'll lead the strategy and direction for more than 9,000 nurses at the New Orleans-based system. 

Becker's recently caught up with Dr. Murdock to learn more about what prompted her to make the move from CEO to CNO, immediate priorities in the new role and more. 

Five questions with Dr. Murdock: 

Question: Just a few weeks ago, you stepped into your new role as chief nurse executive of Ochsner Health. What are one to two top priorities in your first year on the job?

Dr. Tiffany Murdock: My first 60 days is just getting to all of the regions and the campuses to meet the leadership teams, get in front of the nursing staff — do what we call a listening tour. And I think over the next year, it's just building that trust and advocating for the things that they need. Learning what they need to be successful and the health system's [strategies] to deliver high-quality care access to our communities.

Q: You previously spent eight years at Singing River Health System in Mississippi, the last two as CEO. We typically report on the opposite  — CNOs becoming CEOs. What made you take the leap back to nursing? 

TM: A lot of people ask me about that. It's interesting. Singing River Health System is around 4,000 employees and I don't ever feel like I left nursing. As a CEO, when your largest employee population are nurses, you're focused on that population of healthcare providers and a nurse is a nurse no matter what role you are in. The reason I chose to come to the CNO role here at Ochsner is the impact on the profession that I felt like I could make. Ochsner is an incredible organization with close to 10,000 nurses; close to 38,000 employees. To capitalize on that momentum that they already have and to make a difference on that type of scale is pretty incredible to me from a professional standpoint. 

Q: How has your background in nursing influenced your leadership style? 

TM: Many people ask me 'What's my purpose'. 'What's my why.' My mom was diagnosed with cancer at a really young age and leadership played a part in some of the care that she got. I continuously try to make sure to advocate for [changes needed to] drive nursing care and practice. I think being able to work in all of the aspects — I was a nurse tech, I was an LPN, an RN, a unit secretary. 

So I kind of worked the gamut of different roles in healthcare and so being able to work in those positions and come from that background. And then also have a higher purpose to just make communities better and ensure that when someone walks through our door, they get the best care possible. 

I feel like it's an honor. I tell people all the time healthcare is one of those professions that you get to make a difference in people's lives when it is the hardest time. Usually you don't come to the hospital because you want to and we get an opportunity that not most people get to make a difference and leave a legacy in someone's life. 

Q: Many leaders talk about the importance of embracing new care delivery models to address the nursing shortage. What do reimagined or new nursing care delivery models look like at Ochsner ? 

TM: I think nursing models are hard because we have so many different acuties of patients and what those patient populations look like. But I think our goal should be to allow each profession to work up to the highest scope of their practice to give a team approach to nursing … Let the LPNs work up to their scope, let the RNs work up to theirs, give medical assistants opportunities and give techs opportunities. I think we have to relook at all of the work that is being done on the units and make sure that everyone is doing their maximum scope so that we're all kind of lifting the patient load together. 

One of the reasons that I chose Ochsner is because of the innovation and technology being utilized to help prop up the work that nursing and physicians and APPs are already doing — not to replace that work, but to assist in advocating so that they are able to do the work that they do best at the bedside. 

Q: What's one key piece of advice you'd share with emerging nurse leaders today? 

TM: Listen. I think a lot of time we want to give an answer. So I think emerging nursing leaders need to listen a little bit more and to understand the voice of the nurse or the tech or the provider that is speaking to them because you will find the answer in what they're saying. You don't have to already have that answer. 

Copyright © 2023 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars