Karen Cox, an executive vice president and co-chief operating officer at Children’s Mercy Hospital, a 384-bed academic pediatric medical center in Kansas City, Mo., and assistant dean for clinical partnerships at the University of Missouri—Kansas City, was the guest speaker at the fourth annual Orlando Health Nursing Lecture held Nov. 4 at the UCF Fairwinds Alumni Center.

During her lecture – All Nurses as Leaders: The Possibilities in a Changing Health Care Environment – Cox shared lessons learned from her experience in the Clinical Scene Investigator (CSI) Academy, a 16-month nursing leadership and innovation training program.

Cox emphasized the role of leadership and the fact that it is not a formal title or position but a skill. “Leadership is important, it matters, and it starts with all of us,” she said.

UCF alumna Rue Hilal, assistant nurse manager at Orlando Health’s South Seminole Hospital, who attended the event, says she felt refreshed after the lecture. “I really liked how she encouraged leadership down to the bedside level. Often times we think of leadership in a more management level. So that left a lasting impression that anyone with an RN can impact change,” Hilal said.

Recently accepting a new position as a patient care administrator at Orlando Health’s Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, Jennifer Stoeke agrees with Hilal that leadership involves everyone. She says the lecture will help her grow her team as leaders, as well as help them see the importance in communicating effectively with one another.

Cox also spoke on the topic of quality and safety in health care.  She says medical errors are the third leading cause of hospital deaths nationally. Hilal did not find this statistic surprising. “Medical errors do happen and we have to be honest and realistic about them and continue to find ways to decrease the occurrences,” she said. She emphasized the importance of communication in preventing errors and outlined several techniques including clarifying questions and using a three-way communication system.

Daleen Penoyer, director of the Center for Nursing Research at Orlando Health, says she feels fortunate that Dr. Cox was able to travel to Orlando to present the distinguished nursing lecture and describe the CSI Academy she helped to develop and lead with the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. “The Crime Scene Investigator Academy is an innovative program that guides staff nurses to drive quality improvements from the front line. It’s exactly the kind of thing we are looking for here in Orlando,” Penoyer said.

Lori Forlaw, clinical assistant professor at UCF College of Nursing, enjoyed the lecture and will use some of what Cox shared in her own courses. “Dr. Cox gave great advice about recognizing the need to self-regulate and adding mindfulness approaches to our own practice. She also provided concrete examples of improving the health care environment for patients, families, and staff.”

The Orlando Health Nursing Lecture is hosted annually by the UCF College of Nursing and is supported by the Orlando Health Endowed Fund. The event is attended by alumni and current and future nurse leaders, and helps to fulfill nursing continuing education requirements by bringing national experts to UCF to address innovative topics in nursing and health care.

Article Written By Ivanna Alayon