Carol Porter, DNP, RN, FAAN
Chief Nursing Officer / Senior Vice President
Edgar M. Cullman, Sr. Chair of the Department of Nursing
Associate Dean of Nursing Research and Education
Mount Sinai Hospital, NYC
- What were your main priorities when you became the Chief Nursing Officer and Chair of Nursing especially in the areas of quality and patient safety?
In January 2005 I was appointed as the Chief Nursing Officer of Mount Sinai Hospital. I brought my strong background of clinical operations, quality and interdisciplinary collaboration to this position. My focus was to improve the quality of patient care, nursing practice and to promote the profession of nursing at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Improvements are accomplished and sustained by interdisciplinary teams from the clinical frontline up. Having learned this in my career I started my CNO position spending time on every patient unit/service finding out what worked well and what the challenges were that needed my focus and support. I asked a very important question over and over – “tell me what you have identified as an issue or have asked for over the past 5-10 years even if you have never got this approved”. I found if I did not make it clear that I welcomed hearing about the long term requests as well as the current requests I may miss an opportunity for improvement.
In fact my “M.O.” has always been that “I want to hear everything from the small issues to the large ones” and which gives me the opportunity to be of assistance.
My reputation grew as a “go to” person who focused on improvements.
From the beginning I worked through my Nursing Leadership team and front line nursing staff to make improvements in nursing practice, patient care delivery and to support a safe and positive nursing practice environment that supports excellent patient care. I also focused on promoting professionalism in nursing and have mentored numerous nurses on their journey to become expert nurses and nursing leaders. I wanted frontline nurses and advanced practice nurses to reflect on the importance of their work and the impact that they have on a patient and their family during all aspects of life.
I have a true open door policy and have always been very approachable at any time. I am accessible to anyone that needs my assistance. I have been known on many occasions to redirect my day dependent on an urgent request from a colleague.
Building trust based on honesty and transparency creates a spirit that supports wanting to know the true issues that get in the way of excellent patient care and nursing practice. I have been able to assist in numerous instances to improve quality and patient safety through the identification of issues by frontline staff and clinical leadership.
Nurses are an integral part of all quality and safety improvements that are achieved. They are a profession that is consistently interacting with the patients and families which gives them an opportunity to make a significant impact on improvements in care and safety.
- What do you think are your major accomplishments in these areas?
We have made significant improvements in the quality of patient care delivery through promoting the interdisciplinary team model. Bringing interdisciplinary teams together to work on identifying issues and working on improvements is a comprehensive approach and draws strength from multiple perspectives and expertise from the teams.
We have developed a practice environment that empowers nurses to take charge of their nursing practice and strive to achieve higher professional goals. We celebrate their professional achievements and contributions to the profession of nursing. We promote ongoing education and professional development for nursing staff and have been able to sustain a nursing workforce where over 78% have BSN and higher degrees in Nursing. The literature points to higher quality and safety in patient care when the nursing workforce has a BSN or higher degree in nursing.
We developed the MSH Center for Nursing Research and Education (CNRE) into a recognized entity and have held numerous ongoing programs to address the educational needs of the nurses. In 2008 we established our Global Nursing Leadership Academy (GNLA) as part of the CNRE. We have had over 230 nursing leaders from many countries around the world participate in an immersion experience with our nursing teams. We have found that the exchange of information between the MSH nurses and the international nurses is rewarding for all parties involved.
We have been fortunate to move nursing forward professionally as evidenced by sustaining our ANCC Magnet Program Designation from 2004 thru 2018. I have also represented Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai Queens Nurses on a national and global level and we have made a significant mark in the profession.
I became the inaugural Edgar M. Cullman, Sr Chair of the Department of Nursing which was endowed by the Cullman family and established in 2010. The convocation was a great day for MSH Nursing. I became the first Chair of Nursing at MSH and during the Convocation ceremony in 2010 I represented every current nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai Queens as well as paving the path for future Chairs of Nursing at MSH.
- What personal experience has inspired you professionally?
I have had many inspirational moments with patients as well as with nurses.
I am humbled by the ability of nurses to make such a significant impact on the well- being of patients and families. Conveying kindness, caring and safety is what nurses do so well. Nurses are able to add the human face to caring. They recognize and take actions to ensure that patients are treated with dignity and respect and honor special requests that have a real impact on the well-being of the patient and family.
- In your opinion what is the biggest opportunity you see for nurses in research?
Nurses are involved in many aspects of research as primary investigators, co-investigators, members of research teams and primary nurses caring for patients involved in research protocols. Nurses are important members of research teams in translational research and clinical trials.
Nurses as partners in research add a comprehensive dimension to studies. Nurse researchers are sought after for their expertise and value to research teams. Chief Nursing Officers should ensure that they encourage and support the important role that nurses have in research.