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FirstHealth of the Carolinas Nursing Leadership Academy

| Date Posted: 7/11/2019

The FirstHealth of the Carolinas 2019 Nursing Leadership Academy graduates are (left to right), Megan Lill, R.N., Cornelia Winters, R.N., Kristine Thomas, R.N., Melissa Stewart, R.N., Krystle Walsh, R.N., and Courtney Wise, R.N.  Not pictured are Genny Baucom, R.N., Colleen Brown, R.N., Shannon O’Neal, R.N., and Judi Russell, R.N.


PINEHURST – Ten graduates of the FirstHealth of the Carolinas 2019 Nursing Leadership Academy were honored during a graduation ceremony hosted by The Foundation of FirstHealth at the Clara McLean House in Pinehurst on June 28, 2019.


Graduates of the 2019 Leadership Academy are Genny Baucom, R.N., Colleen Brown, R.N., Megan Lill, R.N., Shannon O’Neal, R.N., Judi Russell, R.N., Melissa Stewart, R.N., Kristine Thomas, R.N., Krystle Walsh, R.N., Cornelia Winters, R.N., and Courtney Wise, R.N.


The academy, which is a year-long program, was created by FirstHealth nursing leadership to prepare charge/staff nurses for nursing leadership roles.


“The ever-changing health care industry can be challenging for frontline nurse managers,” says Deana Kearns, MSN, R.N., administrative director for clinical practice and corporate education at FirstHealth. “The Nursing Leadership Academy was developed for staff who aspire to leadership positions to gain the knowledge, skill and abilities needed to lead in a complex health care environment.”


The academy provides instruction on topics such as transformational leadership, managing fiscal and human resources, leading during change, and quality.  These topics are presented over five classroom days throughout the program.


Participants also coordinated an improvement project within their respective units as part of the academy curriculum. The projects were presented during the graduation ceremony. Homework is assigned prior to each session and nurses work with a mentor to discuss practical applications of classroom presentations. 


Applicants for the academy are required to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing (completed or currently enrolled), a minimum of two years of clinical experience and a letter of recommendation from their director. In addition, the applicants undergo an interview selection process with current nursing leaders.


“We realize that the best leaders can be found right here at FirstHealth,” adds Kearns.  “This investment in the professional development of nursing staff is preparing our next nurse leaders and enhancing the future of nursing and health care at FirstHealth.”


For more information on nursing programs at FirstHealth of the Carolinas, visit

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