A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) can help you prepare for an executive healthcare role.

A nurse executive smiles at the camera.When nurses hold top leadership positions, healthcare organizations and patients can reap the benefits.

A study by the Institute of Medicine said nurse leaders working collaboratively with all stakeholders contributed to “improved teamwork and patient outcomes, cost savings and a reduction in medical errors, and increased job satisfaction and retention among nurses.”1

In the C-suite role of chief quality officer (CQO), nursing professionals can make some of their most impactful contributions across the healthcare spectrum. If you’re considering a career move into this top-level role, a doctoral degree in nursing combined with your professional experience can help you qualify.

The duties of a CQO depend on the size and type of healthcare organization, but there are certain key and critical commonalities. CQOs have the twin, sometimes dueling tasks of assuring top-quality healthcare while containing costs. Springer Publishing Co., whose books have won American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Awards, compiled this sample job description to dig deeper in the CQO’s role:

“The chief quality officer (CQO) is responsible for planning, administration, and monitoring of consistent readiness of all quality management, regulatory requirements, and quality improvement processes. The CQO will oversee and coordinate all hospital efforts to monitor and maintain compliance with all regulatory, state, federal, and Joint Commission requirements. As a member of the senior management team, the CQO initiates and oversees the development of a comprehensive quality/performance improvement program. In collaboration with hospital leadership, staff, medical staff leadership, and the board of trustees, the CQO directs and coordinates quality/performance improvement and hospital initiatives.” 2

Besides possessing the communication and interpersonal skills of effective leaders, a CQO candidate should be well-grounded in the knowledge of and experience with state, federal, and professional regulations and quality controls. Springer identifies these important competencies and skills:2

  • Experience with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) conditions of participation for acute care hospitals and CMS survey processes
  • In-depth knowledge of external clinical quality reporting requirements
  • Current knowledge of Joint Commission, state, and federal guidelines, regulations, and standards
  • Experience coordinating, preparing, and participating in state, Joint Commission, and CMS surveys within past three years
  • Current statistical knowledge and skill in developing statistical data displays
  • Experience in the use of statistical and quality assessment software
  • Ability to analyze and resolve complex issues

Many employers and recruiters view previous clinical experience as a significant plus. As one CQO explained, “My clinical experience helped me to understand barriers and workflow processes. Now I have a better idea of the issues physicians are faced with and I feel that makes me better equipped to help them facilitate change.”3

Becoming a Chief Quality Officer

A DNP degree from an online nursing program can position you for higher-level leadership roles across the healthcare industry, in jobs like chief quality officer and chief nursing officer, or in clinical teaching positions.

“The DNP is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice to help prepare the graduate for the changing demands of the healthcare environment, the complexity of patient care, and the nation’s concerns about the quality of care and patient safety,” according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.4

A doctorate in nursing can equip nurse leaders to meet those and other challenges in top healthcare positions. Learning outcomes of a good DNP online nursing program should prepare graduates to:

  • Develop organizational system changes for quality improvement in healthcare delivery.
  • Apply optimal utilization of healthcare information technology across healthcare settings.
  • Advocate for the advancement of nursing and healthcare policy through sharing of science-based knowledge with healthcare policymakers.
  • Demonstrate leadership to facilitate collaborative teams for improving patient and population health outcomes.

In choosing a doctoral degree in nursing program, look for accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which ensures the quality and integrity of nursing programs.

The U.S. Secretary of Education officially recognizes CCNE as a national accreditation agency.

A top online nursing program can help you reach the heights of your career ambitions. You can pursue your coursework when it’s most convenient for you, at a pace that allows you to continue to enjoy all your favorite activities. Step up to a doctorate in nursing so you can be ready to step into prime healthcare positions requiring your experience, education, and commitment to quality. A DNP can help get you there.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program. Expand your career options and earn a degree online in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

1Source: http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2010/The-Future-of-Nursing-Leading-Change-Advancing-Health/Infographic.aspx
2Source: www.springerpub.com/w/healthcare-management/career-of-the-week-in-healthcare-management-chief-quality-officer
3Source: www.beckershospitalreview.com/quality/what-makes-an-ideal-chief-quality-officer.html
4Source: www.aacnnursing.org/Professional-Development/Webinar-Info/SESSIONALTCD/WG18_10_10

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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