Leading Healthcare with Healthcare Leaders
Leading Healthcare with Healthcare Leaders


"It was clear that our consultant had a great knowledge of the organization and what the medical center was looking for in it's next Chief Nursing Executive."


When The Nebraska Medical Center was facing replacement of an admired and long-tenured retiring chief nursing executive, those within the organization knew that filling her shoes would be a tremendous challenge. This required a partner who understood the unique position requirements and with a process that would leave all stakeholders confident that the search yielded the highest quality candidate available.

The Nebraska Medical Center trusted Gallagher MSA Search, a division of Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., to support the process. Glenn Fosdick, President & CEO for The Nebraska Medical Center stated, "The CNO position is one of the most important in our organization. We had to have a great search process that resulted in hiring an excellent new nursing leader. We chose Gallagher MSA Search to support this search for a number of reasons including our confidence in the consultant's ability to understand our needs and help us design the new position, with the relationships and resources to reach a broad network of strong nursing executives, and ability to accurately represent The Nebraska Medical Center and what we were looking for in the next nurse executive to potential candidates."

The position historically held a Vice President title and reported directly to the Chief Operating Officer for operations and financial issues. However it reported to the Chief Executive Officer for strategic and quality matters. As an expert in healthcare industry trends, the Gallagher MSA Search Managing Director & Senior Advisor, Jane Groves advised elevating the position to a Senior Vice President role reporting directly to the CEO. Citing clear evidence from early discussions with candidates proved that top nurse executives desire a direct reporting relationship to the Chief Executive Officer.

As expected, there were anxieties about a change in nursing leadership. She had gained a loyal following within a nursing department that had recently been awarded Magnet designation for extraordinary nursing care by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. It was critical to design an open and inclusive process where members of nursing management and the nursing staff could have the opportunity to meet with the search consultant, and later with candidates.

Recognizing the challenges that lay in front of her, Ms. Groves committed to maintaining a flexible process and tailoring the search to the unique needs of The Nebraska Medical Center.

This committed partnership was the defining factor to a smooth process and a successful outcome. The recommendations offered to address the challenges included:

  • A re-titling and repositioning of the CNO position in the leadership structure. The position would now be a Senior Vice President/CNO, serve as a member of the senior executive team, and report directly to Glenn Fosdick, the CEO. The executive search consultant worked closely with Mr. Fosdick to develop a plan to communicate the repositioning.
  • The Search Committee included the entire senior team. The CEO included all members of the senior team on the Search Committee, and integrated an expanded panel of stakeholders (managers, staff, physician leaders, and board members) to assist with the interviewing and selection process.
  • Diverting from an established search plan to engage an "A-list" candidate. One of the top candidates had concerns about the design and scope of the position, inhibiting her from making the commitment needed to fully declare her candidacy. Identifying this issue, the search consultant facilitated a meeting where the CEO and the candidate could discuss face-to-face the CEO's vision for the role of the CNO as a strategic and operational leader.

This also allowed him the opportunity to declare his commitment to the role of nursing in The Nebraska Medical Center's future. The search consultant felt it would also be a good litmus test of how serious the CEO was about wanting to work with a candidate of this caliber. The candidate viewed this as an excellent non-typical opportunity to meet with the CEO early in the process, stating that it heightened her interest in the organization, the opportunity, and her confidence in the CEO's commitment. "It was clear that the Gallagher MSA Search consultant had a great knowledge of the organization and what the medical center was looking for in it's next Chief Nursing Executive. Also it was clear she had a positive relationship with the CEO, so I felt I could trust her advice and insights about the potential fit. Furthermore, she stayed very close to the search throughout the entire process, even after I had accepted the position!" commented Rosanna Morris, Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services and CNO for The Nebraska Medical Center. "Through each stage, she effectively moved the process along for both parties and found ways to help us overcome any obstacles. It was so refreshing to see that a search consultant cared so much about me as a candidate while still representing the client greatly."

Following the search consultant's advice to retitle and elevate the reporting relationship was predictably met with questions and some resistance, at first. However, the co-developed communication plan clearly explained the rationale for that decision. What could have been a potentially negative issue resolved as a well-reasoned decision among most of the senior team members. Further, the position was now considerably more attractive to candidates who were initially hesitant to pursue the position because of the organizational structure and its level in the executive management hierarchy.

"The consultant made it clear early on that based on what I was saying I wanted in a CNO, we needed to consider re-titling and repositioning the CNO position in order to attract the level of candidates we were looking for. I agreed that our titling had been a bit behind the curve and it was important that we hire a candidate who would meet our high expectations for the position," said Mr. Fosdick.

The inclusive nature of the search committee allowed for a good cross-section of stakeholders to be involved in the process and ultimately buy-in to the final selection. The result of this composition was a team of senior leaders who were in a unanimous agreement in selecting the candidate of choice.

Due to the efforts of the CEO going the extra mile, at the consultant's counsel, to meet with a candidate early in the process as opposed to following the standard timeline of waiting until first-round interviews, the candidate's initial reluctance to pursue the opportunity was alleviated. In addition, relocation created a "trailing spouse" issue.

The search consultant worked closely with the CEO to arrange appropriate interviews for the candidate's husband. This ultimately lead to him accepting a position at the medical center. Ms. Morris explains, "The fact that Mr. Fosdick would drive to see me in my city meant a lot and really demonstrated how committed he was to this selection. Our meeting enhanced my interest and excited me to go to Omaha to meet other members of the team. Obviously, I was also so grateful of the role he played in my husband's employment as well."

Mr. Fosdick further shared, "The meeting in Rosanna's hometown allowed me to come back to the medical center with the ability to talk to others in the organization about her and share with them in advance of meeting her why I thought she was a unique and exceptional candidate."

When an organization engages an executive search firm, the relationship works best when it can most closely be described as a "partnership." This search was successful due to the open sharing of ideas and opportunities between Gallagher MSA Search and The Nebraska Medical Center early in the process. Additional success factors included the level of active engagement by Mr. Fosdick and his personal commitment to the process and the selection. The Nebraska Medical Center not only secured an A-list Chief Nursing Officer who immediately impacted quality outcomes in a marked world-class organization, but also added a valuable member of the executive leadership team, contributing across the entire organization.

Gallagher MSA Search, a division of Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., has a rich history spanning more than 40 years of helping organizations fill mission-critical executive roles with the right talent. With a thorough understanding of healthcare organizations and a customized approach to sourcing and selecting healthcare executive candidates, Gallagher MSA Search combines comprehensive interview and assessment process with unique insights gained from years of search consulting success and hospital administration experience.

Because there is so much at stake when selecting mission-critical executives, we conduct the most thorough interview and assessment process to select your executive candidates—an exclusive, in-depth system to reduce the margin for error and ensure there will be no surprises—and combine it with unique insights that can only be gained from years of search consulting success and hospital administration experience. Our database of our clients with access to an extremely valuable resource unavailable anywhere else.

The result: our clients have found the right CEO in our first slate presentation, 100% of the time.

As a part of Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., our clients have access to an array of healthcare leadership and management services, helping maximize their organization's performance today and through coming changes.

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