FirstHealth Honors 2021 Nursing Leadership Academy Graduates

Recent graduates of FirstHealth’s 2021 Nursing Leadership Academy. The year-long program is designed by FirstHealth nursing leaders to prepare charge/staff nurses for leadership roles.


PINEHURST, NC – FirstHealth of the Carolinas has announced its 2021 Nursing Leadership Academy graduates. 

Ashley Collins, R.N., MSN, CMSRN; Jennifer Cummings, R.N, MSN, CCRN; Rebecca Locklear, MSN, BSN, RN-BC; Sharon Odom, R.N., BSN; Iris Mullen, BSN, R.N.; Sheila Brock, R.N., BSN; Meredith Johnson, R.N., BSN; Dory Franklin, R.N., BSN, CBN; and Chrisi Embler, R.N., BSN, CBN all completed the year-long program that is designed by FirstHealth nursing leaders to prepare charge/staff nurses for leadership roles. 

“Health care is increasingly complex, especially for frontline nurse managers, so we use our Nursing Leadership Academy as a way to develop a succession plan for nurse managers,” Deana Kearns, MSN, R.N., Administrative Director for Clinical Practice and Corporate Education at FirstHealth. 

“We provide basic leadership, knowledge, skills and abilities vital in these key roles within our system. In responding to COVID-19, these skills are more valuable than ever before.”

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.

“Our academy prepares future nursing leaders, and it ensures that FirstHealth’s nurses will continue to lead the way in helping the system achieve its core purpose – To Care For People,” Kearns said. 

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