Male nurses on why they value their chief nursing officer

Although women still account for most of the nursing workforce, the number of men in the profession has risen substantially in recent decades.

Statistics on demographics in nursing vary, but it is estimated that women make up 90 percent of the nation's nursing workforce, while about 9 percent of nurses in the U.S. are men, said American Nurses Association President Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, in recent commentary. That count marks an increase from 1960, when 2 percent of the nation's nurses were men.

Dr. Grant contended it's important for more men to hold nursing roles so that the profession better reflects the patient population, and because it can help dispel stereotypes about nurses.

Today, more men continue to enter the workforce — and they bring an important viewpoint to nursing, while also learning from their leaders.

Here, male nurses from hospitals and health systems across the U.S. spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about what makes their chief nursing officer a great mentor. Here is an overarching look at the mentorship they receive — in their own words.

Ruel Alavanza, RN. Emergency Room Nurse at Montclair (Calif.) Hospital Medical Center

On Gail Aviado, MSN, RN

A good mentor to RNs supports, encourages and promotes continued learning to maximize potential and improve performance over time. A good RN mentor is also a seasoned expert with a strong sense of community who is willing to share their individual expertise in patient care.

The CNO at Montclair Hospital Medical Center, Gail Aviado, is all this and more. She is approachable and open in her communication. In times of stress or crisis, she is calm and confident in her skills and decision-making. Gail is passionate about healthcare, often assisting during staff shortages and freely shares her expert knowledge with fellow RNs. Most importantly, she is supportive while you are learning and going through the learning curve, and encourages higher education.

John Baker, DNP, RN, Vice President of Nursing and Operations at Cleveland Clinic Akron General Lodi (Ohio) Hospital

On Sheila Miller, DNP, MSN, RN

Sheila hired me as the director of nursing for inpatient services at [Cleveland Clinic] South Pointe Hospital [in Warrensville Heights, Ohio]. I worked with her for about three and a half years until she became the CNO at [Cleveland Clinic] Akron [Ohio] General. When she left, I was the interim CNO at South Pointe for four months. In the last year Sheila was at South Pointe, I had expressed to her my interest in someday being a CNO, so we set up monthly mentoring sessions to help me with that. Now that I am at Lodi, I am reporting to Sheila as we await a new COO. Sheila was a great mentor.

Sheila always set expectations with leading by example. She would never ask you to do something or act in a way that did not reflect her own values.

Sheila was excellent at providing guidance but not solving the problem for you. She would ask leading questions or provoke thoughts that would make you think differently about a situation to see different points of view.

Sheila was great at sharing her knowledge and soliciting feedback. She would use real-world examples to help me better understand.

Kevin Boggs, BSN, RN. Emergency Department Patient Care Manager at McLaren Greater Lansing (Mich.).

On Deborah Leblanc, BSN, RN

I value Deborah Leblanc, our CNO, as a mentor, not only for her knowledge and ability to lead but also for her commitment to guide employees to be the best that they can be. She exhibits a perfect blend of being respectful, the ability to listen, and most importantly provides honest feedback allowing for constant improvement of our staff.   

John R. Braun, BSN, RN. Director of the Emergency Department at Medical City Denton (Texas).

On Brandy Farrer, MSN, RN

Brandy models and describes herself as a servant leader. Her leadership transitions into her ability to be an excellent mentor by providing guidance, support and feedback to her direct reports. She empowers and supports us in our decisions and strategically knows how to communicate when we need additional guidance to achieve a project or goal.

Gary DiPersi, BSN, RN. System Director, Nursing Operations and Performance Improvement at Christus Health (Irving, Texas).

On Debi Pasley, MSN, BSN, RN

What makes Debi a good mentor is her ability to communicate not only what the big picture is but also where the details matter, to demonstrate the difference between when there's a need to have a thoughtful debate and a need to be more direct, and to always be available to support me no matter the question or issue.

Jay Edwards, RN. Clinical Nurse Manager at Beaumont Hospital, Troy (Mich.).

On Melissa Foreman-Lovell, DNP, RN

When Melissa Foreman-Lovell arrived at Beaumont Hospital, Troy, she immediately prioritized creating strong relationships with her nursing leaders. She took time to meet everyone, listen to their ideas and then incorporate everyone's feedback into her plans. She is always approachable and very friendly and accessible. I have also been impressed by how focused Melissa is on teamwork. She is not a dictator. She leads by consensus. When changes to our processes or job duties are suggested or required, she makes sure the correct processes are followed and the changes actually create the desired effect.

Adam Francis, BSN, RN. Nurse Manager at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

On Ryannon Frederick, MSN, BSN

Ryannon has been instrumental in my success as a new nursing manager within Mayo Clinic while supporting a culture of innovation and creativity. She helped coach me in determining when the timing is right for new pilots or trials and strategically recommended projects that matched my strengths and weaknesses to promote growth as a nurse leader. Ryannon has been extremely encouraging and complimentary in our efforts to promote growth and development of nurses at Mayo Clinic.

Vince Glidden, RN. Registered Nurse in Mental Health at Allina Health's Cambridge (Minn.) Medical Center Hospital.

On Lori Weaver, MSN, BSN

I respect Lori very much. She's an effective team member. She promotes teamwork across the team. She thinks things through, listens to people's inputs.

An example might be the developing of a new policy. She creates a team of people who are associated with or will be involved in that policy and gets subject-matter experts together to provide input, so things are done right.

[Also], I work in mental health, and Lori has been, I think, exceptional in bringing mental health into the whole part of the hospital care. We're an integrated part not only of the hospital but of the community.

Marco Gonzalez, MSN, BSN, RN. Director of Critical Care, Medical ICU at Methodist Hospital (San Antonio).

On Jane McCurley, DNP

It wasn't until I got to know Jane as a leader and her "why" that I saw the truth behind her actions and words as a great mentor. Her commitment to me as a leader to nurture my growth as a professional was evident when she involved me in additional committees and projects that were hospital-wide; it really allowed me to lead outside of my unit and network across the campus. Her passion to connect with me as a person and understand where I wanted to go helped shape that path. If I could think of a quote that reminds me of Jane the most, it would be: "Success doesn't come from what you do occasionally. It comes from what you do consistently." — Unknown.

It's her consistency with her message and direction that has enabled me to want to continue to seek out challenges to allow for my growth forward. For that I am thankful daily! 

Zachary Lassiter, BSN, RN. Vascular Access Team Staff RN at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

On Ryannon Frederick, MSN, BSN

Ryannon's nursing-focused participation with the Mayo Nursing Council at Mayo Clinic Florida has been incredibly empowering to me and the committee. Through her involvement, she has engaged staff to speak up and participate in evidence-based practice changes ensuring high-quality, patient-centered care.

Zach Perpetua, RN. Clinical Education Specialist at UPMC Passavant (Cranberry Township, Pa., and Pittsburgh).

On Lisa Bryan-Morris, MSN, RN

Lisa has always inspired me and always challenged me. That's why Lisa Bryan-Morris is an exceptional leader and mentor.

I've known her for many years and have grown under her leadership. She really helped to pull out the leader in me.

Lisa has always encouraged me to share my ideas and evolve to become a "leader nurse." I quickly realized I admired Lisa as a leader, and I decided I wanted to be more like her.

Lisa was promoted and shifted her career to a different UPMC hospital, so we parted ways. Then, a few years later, I was placed at her hospital, UPMC Passavant, for my master's program clinicals, and we were reunited. I fell in love with UPMC Passavant the minute I walked in the doors, and because Lisa was their nurse leader, it felt like the right place for me.

Lisa always has a positive attitude and smiling face, and she challenges us to be the best we can be and provide the very best care for our patients. She's always approachable, and Lisa also knows when to be firm. She insists on excellence, and it inspires everyone around her to follow.

I believe in Lisa's vision and leadership. So much so, I advanced my career to become a nurse educator. I believe in growing our nurses — recruiting them as student nurses and developing their leadership within the hospital. Building the next generation of nurse leaders was embedded in me by Lisa.

Adam Sahyouni, RN. Cardiovascular ICU Nurse at Methodist Hospital (San Antonio).

On Jane McCurley, DNP

Jane McCurley epitomizes what a great mentor is. First and foremost, she is an expert in her field. With over 40 years of experience, there isn't much that she hasn't seen, and she is more than willing to share it. When you meet with Jane, in the halls or in her office, she is focused on you. For that meeting you are all that is important to her. A specific example: I once mentioned that I was an avid fan of Dr. Jeffrey Guy [a surgical intensivist who ran the burn ICU at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., and had a podcast called "ICU Rounds"]. A few weeks later, Jane had a meeting with him and told him about me — securing an autograph! I was blown away by her thoughtfulness. I am thankful to have a leader who cares as much about my career as I do. 

Marion Villaverde, MSN, RN. Director of Nursing, Critical Care Services at St. Mary's General Hospital (Passaic, N.J.).

On Karin Stalter, MSN, RN

What makes my CNO a great nurse and a great leader is her distinctive personality. Karin can handle any obstacle that comes her way with grace; she will gather her troops and lead us in solving any problem (department- or organization-wide). As a patient advocate, Karin transformed the culture of St. Mary's General Hospital to one that provides a quality, safe, caring and compassionate way of taking care of our patients and their families. She is a true mentor and supports everyone to pursue their career through advanced learning.


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