FirstHealth of the Carolinas Nursing Leadership Academy Graduation

FirstHealth of the Carolinas has announced their 2018 Nursing Leadership Academy graduates: Zach Pessagno, R.N.; Tammy Smith, R.N.; Palesa Ford, R.N.; Lindsey Mederos, R.N.; Shannon Orwin, R.N.; Hannah McNeill, R.N.; Kori Morgan, R.N.; Lisa Brooks, R.N.; Juanita Kreider, R.N.; Will Buffaloe, R.N.; Jillian Peterson, R.N.; and Cynthia Whitaker, R.N.

The academy, which is a year-long program, was created by FirstHealth nursing leadership to prepare charge/staff nurses for leadership roles.

“The health care environment can be challenging and complex for frontline nurse managers,” says Deana Kearns, MSN, R.N., administrative director for clinical practice and corporate education at FirstHealth. “The Nursing Leadership Academy was developed as a succession plan for nurse managers, and to provide the basic leadership, knowledge, skills and abilities vital for leadership.”

The academy provides instruction on topics such as transformational leadership, managing fiscal and human resources, leading during change, and quality.  These topics are presented over five classroom days throughout the program.

Participants also complete a leadership project with a poster presentation.  Homework is assigned prior to each session and nurses work with a mentor to discuss practical applications of classroom presentations.

Applicants for the academy are required to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing (completed or currently enrolled), a minimum of two years of clinical experience and a letter of recommendation from their director. In addition, the applicants undergo an interview selection process with current nursing leaders.

“This investment in our nursing staff is preparing our future nurse leaders by developing them professionally and can potentially increase employee satisfaction by providing a greater understanding of the organization as a whole,” says Kearns.

The academy’s May graduation was celebrated in June at a ceremony hosted by The Foundation of FirstHealth at the Clara McLean House in Pinehurst. During the ceremony, each nurse presented their project to both the FirstHealth Board of Trustees and The Foundation of FirstHealth’s Board of Trustees. It was also announced during the ceremony that three of the nurses in the program had been placed in leadership roles at FirstHealth.

For more information on nursing programs at FirstHealth of the Carolinas, visit