Nurse Steps Into New Role as an Executive

July 20, 2011

Linda Rittermeyer, RN, at Menorah Medical Center

by Linda Friedel | Reprinted courtesy of KC Nursing News

Linda Rittermeyer, RN, is taking her management skills to a new level.

Rittermeyer, former director of perioperative services at Lee's Summit Medical Center, has spent the past month as associate chief nursing officer in Menorah Medical Center's HCA executive development program. Rittermeyer will shadow the hospital's chief nursing officer, Kathy Sankovich, for about a year before applying for a CNO position within the organization.

"You went from knowing to not knowing," she said. "Now I'm right back at the beginning. It's like being in school again."

Rittermeyer said her years of leadership date to her role as a charge nurse 20 years ago. Rittermeyer, who has an MBA in health care management, has enjoyed a variety of leadership positions through the years, she said, but wanted to make an impact in a new way.

"I thought I had a good finger on the pulse of nursing," she said. "Nursing could use leaders that remember what it is like at the bedside. That's what keeps me focused."

In the past month, Rittermeyer said she has learned everything from finding her way around the hospital, to advanced multi-tasking to discovering global aspects of the organization.

"That's been a learning curve for me," she said. "It's a nice transition."

Rittermeyer said as she grasps the hospital's broader scopes such as meeting with medical executives, physicians and boards, she is learning to let go of details that as a nurse she is accustomed to handling. She will also better be able to impact the nurses and technicians she oversees, helping them to maintain balance in their lives professionally and with their families, she said. Rittermeyer sees her role as a support to nurses, someone who encourages them to enjoy their work and their family time in order to live a more rounded, fulfilled life.

"We are the ultimate caregivers of our families and our patients at work," she said. "They have a life. I believe family is important."

Rittermeyer said she remains dedicated to shepherding nurses, helping them achieve their goals.

"I love to see people grow," she said. "I love to mentor. I like to develop them."

She defines nursing as a personal mission.

"Nursing is the core inner peace of your heart to help people no matter what they're going through," Rittermeyer said.

Sankovich said the selection process for the executive shadowing program at HCA is very strenuous and it is a huge honor to be selected. She said Rittermeyer demonstrated low staff turnover, works extremely well with physicians and has already formed relationships with key stakeholders.

"Her leadership capabilities are amazing," Sankovich said. "She is very effective in being able to accomplish a lot of things. I'm very honored to be her mentor."

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