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Kaiser Permanente has always prioritized elevating high-performing individuals for future leadership roles in the organization. Likewise, the organization must continually anticipate and plan for retirements and transitions in nurse executive roles. The complexity of current health care systems and the time required to ensure competency and confidence in leading from an executive position led to the deliberate and focused introduction of advanced leadership programs.

These programs were designed to plan and prepare for the next generation of nurse executives, offering succession and career planning promoting optimum transformational leadership continuity, high-quality care, and sustained organizational success. These commitments led to the development of the CNE Fellowship Program.

This new fellowship experience offered unprecedented opportunities for high-performing nurse leaders. It paved the path for nine CNE Fellows to pursue their aspirations of becoming Chief Nurse Executives in Northern California. Seven of those nine fellows since 2015 have completed the program and transitioned to executive leadership roles, including CNE, COO, and Regional Nurse Leader positions. The NSA published its own Nurse Executive Development Map in 2017, built upon the American Organization of Nurse Leaders (AONL) core competencies and included the integration of Caring Science and appreciative leader practices.

Fellows are offered the opportunity to work beside experienced nurse executives and explore different facilities, specialty services, and executive practice responsibilities in a positive learning environment. The program is unique, and candidates are selected through a region-wide leadership calibration process championed by the NSA and in partnership with the local CNEs. Executive nurse coaching, 360-degree feedback, and pre-and post-AONL competency assessments are part of a fellow’s journey.

As graduate fellows, nurse leaders are appropriately prepared to lead in today’s complex and challenging health care environments at any of our 21 facilities in Northern California. The importance of preparation, succession planning, and executive nurse development led to the development and expansion of the Associate Chief Nurse Executive (ACNE) role in Northern California, where all ACNEs are now offered the opportunity to access the NSA CNE Fellowship Program as part of their individual development plan. The CNE Fellow is a dynamic role that has continually evolved and responded to the organization’s shifting needs, ensuring future nurse executives are ready and prepared to embrace the challenge of top nurse leader roles.

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