How Novant's Heather King went from CNA to hospital president

Heather King, BSN, RN, president and chief operating officer of Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center in Bolivia, N.C., climbed from certified nursing assistant to hospital executive in 17 years because, as her mentor put it, she "never said no to anything."

Ms. King began her role as president in August, but her leadership started long before that, according to a Feb. 24 post from the Charlotte, N.C.-based system. At 9 years old, she served as a primary caregiver after her mom was severely injured from a car accident, but it wouldn't be until 20 years later when she would work in a hospital. 

She said she was impressed by the nurses at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., after she gave birth to her second child at 29. A few weeks later, Ms. King went to college for the first time for an associate degree nursing program. By 2006, she began working at Forsyth as a CNA in the labor and delivery unit. 

While working as a CNA, Ms. King earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and became an RN. At another Novant hospital, Ms. King rose through the ranks to become the director of nursing in 2014 after fielding encouragement from others. 

"Throughout my career, I've been very blessed that there have been people who saw something in me that I didn't see in myself," she said in the health system's post.

John Mann, MD, one of Ms. King's mentors, and the president, chief operating officer and senior vice president of Novant Health Institutes, said, "She may give me credit for something, but she did all the work. ... She never said no to anything."

Ms. King said she has stayed at Novant for nearly two decades because she wants to empower others like herself: "That's a reason I have stayed at Novant Health. They really do empower female leaders."

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