Photo of nurses, doctors and medical executives gathered around a laptop

Inaugural nurse executive post-doctoral program to begin

The Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University welcomes 11 fellows from U.S., Canada, Ireland and United Arab Emirates

An innovative post-doctoral program designed to prepare nursing executives for leadership roles launches this week at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University.

An inaugural class of 11 fellows from the United States, Canada, Ireland and United Arab Emirates will begin intensive leadership training on Friday at the Marian K. Shaughnessy Nurse Leadership Academy. The course, which runs through May 2021, will be held virtually.

The academy and new program were conceived in response to dramatic changes in health care, including significant national shortages in primary care providers and an increasing number of nurse practitioners—but a dearth of nurses in leadership positions: While nurses comprised 35% of the entire U.S. health care workforce in 2017, they held only 5% of the positions on hospital boards.

The academy bears the name of Marian K. Shaughnessy, who died Feb. 24, 2020. In June 2018, she and her husband, Michael, gave $5 million to establish the program at the nursing school where she was a double alumna. “My vision is to transform health care for all populations and to improve the nation’s health,” she told a nursing-school luncheon audience when plans for the academy were announced. 

Joyce Fitzpatrick
Joyce Fitzpatrick

The new post-doctoral program was made possible by funding from the Samuel H. and Maria Miller Foundation and is designed to fast-track current chief nursing officers (CNOs) or advanced nurse leaders into chief nurse executive positions in health care systems and corporations.

“There is no post-doctoral program specifically designed to prepare nurse executives for major health care systems, for health care corporations or for any health care enterprise,” said Joyce J. Fitzpatrick, the Elizabeth Brooks Ford Professor of Nursing and inaugural director of the academy.

Needs in the nursing profession

The nursing profession, Fitzpatrick said, is not only struggling with a workforce shortage, but a looming leadership gap as the current generation of senior nurse executives eye retirement in the next five to 10 years.

At a time when the world is coping with a highly infectious pandemic, strong and continuous nurse leadership is imperative for the future of successful health care systems, Fitzpatrick said.

The first half of 2020 has illustrated those dramatic changes, she said. For example, telehealth has dominated the health care landscape as patients and providers adopted social-distancing restrictions and infection-prevention measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Telehealth, remote-care delivery and accessible community-based health care are just a few of the topics that the yearlong post-doctoral program will address, preparing the fellows to navigate the transition into a system CNE role to solve the unique challenges facing health care, Fitzpatrick said.

Case Western Reserve alumna and faculty member Linda Q. Everett will teach the course, bringing a wealth of first-hand experience as a former executive vice president and chief nurse executive at Indiana University Health and a past president of American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE). In 2019, AONE changed its name to the American Organization for Nursing Leadership.

Fitzpatrick said in 2018 that the nursing school intends for the academy to have national and global influence: “We believe we have to start at home,” she said, “and so we will enhance the entire Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing team with leadership presence and skills through onsite training sessions designed to make this nursing school a leadership destination.”

First class of fellows

The first class of fellows is:

  • Michelle Acorn, associate graduate faculty and adjunct lecturer, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada;
  • Abeer Ahmed Al Blooshi, senior clinical director, Nursing, Surgical and Transplant Institute, Cleveland Clinic, United Arab Emirates;
  • Anna Cerra, senior vice president and chief nursing officer, Greenwich Hospital, Yale New Haven Health, New Haven, Connecticut;
  • Natalie Cineas, senior vice president and system chief nurse executive, NYC Health + Hospitals, New York, New York; 
  • Theresa Champagne, CNO, LRGHealthcare, New Hampshire, Connecticut.;
  • Maryalice Cullen, assistant vice president, Women’s and Children’s Services, Albany Medical Center, Albany, N.Y.; 
  • Ben Farber, chief nursing officer, University Hospitals, Elyria Medical Center, Elyria, Ohio;
  • Kari Gali, nurse leader in distance health at Cleveland Clinic practicing in telemedicine and population health programs; Cleveland, Ohio;
  • Catrina Heffernan, Institute of Technology Tralee (Munster Technological University), Ireland;
  • Barbara Leafe, executive director, Medicine, Palliative Care, Neurovascular Intervention, Women and Children, Greenwich Hospital, Yale New Haven Health; and
  • Eric Staples, independent nursing practice consultant, Ontario, Canada.

Learn more about the program.

For more information, contact Mike Scott at