Know Your Leader: Connie Whittington, RN, MSN, ONC

Current job: Vice President Patient Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Piedmont Hospital.

Family: Husband, Ed. Children, Chris, his wife, Tiffany, and three grandchildren, James, Jillian and Jordan; and Matt, his wife, Laurissa, and a baby boy due in May. Mother, Ella.

What makes a good leader?

“A leader influences others in a way that they support the strategy or focus of the leader:

“Listening – with the focus on understanding the message that is being sent from employee, colleague or patient.

“Vision – for the future that is shared so all are on the same page, moving in the same direction.

“Communication – one who shares their vision and strategy with the team.

“Honesty – people can believe that you say what you mean and mean what you say. Honesty is the basis of a trusting relationship, which is necessary for people to be willing to follow.”

What are you most proud of in your career?

“Clinically: Making a difference in the lives of the patients who I was privileged to care for.

“Professionally: Development of the system of clinical pathways to guide consistent patient care based on scientific evidence to achieve the best outcomes.

“Personally: Appointment to the FDA Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Panel to serve as the patient advocate and consumer representative.”

Who has inspired or mentored you?

“Clara Donahoo, RN, who taught me how to listen to my patients, to hear what their real needs were, and to balance physical care with coaching and caring for the person inside the illness or injury.

“Mary Rodts, MSN, Ph.D., a colleague who mentored me in many ways.  She influenced me to begin sharing my professional skills – first through speaking and then through writing. She served as a mentor and wise counsel as I served as a national leader in professional nursing organizations. Most importantly, she kept me grounded and focused on the important tasks at hand when making decisions for organizations.”

What’s your favorite thing to do away from work?

“Travel, especially in groups! I grew up traveling the United States by car with my parents. I learned to appreciate the beautiful places and the interesting people spread all across the country. Our family travels every year to places near and far – whether to a beach nearby or to another continent. We enjoy sharing the sights with family and friends.”

Who’s your favorite fictional nurse?

“Cherry Ames. I read many of her books as I grew up – a way of looking outside my world, which was a small town in Kentucky. She was a nurse who traveled the world and worked in really cool places. She was in hospitals, at the beach, in places all across the world, and always doing something exciting and adventurous.”

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?

“Eating ice cream.”

Tell us something that nobody at work knows about you:

“I love to sing. I sing in a quartet with three very dear friends; we are the Prune Sisters. We sing four-part harmony and enjoy sharing our music with those who cannot get out and about – for fun as well as for special events in the lives of those we know or know about. My friends at work would not recognize me as a Prune Sister.”

- Compiled by John Brieske, Pulse Plus editor