Northwest Organization of Nurse Leaders News

Message from NWONL President Kelly Espinoza

NWONL Engaged: Leader Highlights

NWONL President Kelly Espinoza, PhD, RN, Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer, Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center

Last month I learned that my organization maintained a 5-star rating from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and was also recognized by HealthGrades as a top 50 hospital in the United States.

After a bit of research and cross comparison; we are one of 19 hospitals nationally (1%) that have received both recognitions!

This is certainly something we are proud of and it is absolutely the accomplishment of many, many people across all disciplines over time and with tenacity of purpose.

I have had several colleagues reach out to me from various organizations in many geographies ask me “how did you accomplish this”?

I gave this some thought and reached out to my team members for their insight to offer my thoughts.

I have always believed leadership to be a continuum. Each position has presented an opportunity to build on assumptions or discard and start fresh. I offer some of these learnings as a precursor to our annual conference and a reflection of our need to evolve our brand and continue to evaluate what is essential to our NWONL members.

  • Spend time at the sharp end of your core business, lots of it. Shadowing your staff and participating in their day, seeing the work, hearing the interactions with peers, patients, families, providers and others. This does two things: it helps you understand the “rocks in their shoes” and allows you to best represent their interests by spending time with them in their unit or department. It establishes a trusting relationship that serves as a glidepath for dialogue beyond the “why”.
  • Coach for development and open the door to create an emerging leader. Any organization is only as strong as its bench. One of our primary strategies is to find the talent within our ranks and create opportunities for them to explore their leadership potential. This starts at the bedside by establishing relationships with those closest to the work and creating an opportunity for them to lead.
  • Change happens at the speed of trust. Trust comes when you spend more time listening to staff and leaders and ask questions. I have three questions I always start with when I am getting to know someone, or beginning a new position:
    • What are you most proud of and what works well here?
    • What is difficult or needs to change about what you do?
    • What keeps you awake at night?
  • Strike a balance between standardization and innovation. Removal of waste through standardization is important, particularly for managers who are sandwiched in between the needs of their staff and the expectations of senior leaders. I have found that innovation and a willingness to be the “test kitchen” for a new process, product, or initiative is essential to an organization. The second part of innovation is ensuring you continue the PDCA, measure and adjust.
  • Culture is local. Communities, providers, customers/patients have local culture. Observe it, learn about it, before you decide to set about on a path to change it.

These are some concepts and practices that will be woven into the content at our annual meeting this May.

It really is a new year for us at NWONL! We are so excited to launch our new brand and we look forward to seeing and celebrating you at SKAMANIA LODGE May 17, 18, and 19!

~ Kelly