New hire highlights CMMC’s chief nursing position


Chief Nursing Officer Karin White smiles in her new office at Central Montana Medical Center Friday afternoon.

Photo by Jenny Gessaman

Alphabet soup is common at the top of the business world; it’s run by CEOs, COOs and CFOs. The Central Montana Medical Center has one more acronym on its list: CNO.

Since July, the title of chief nursing officer has belonged to Karin White. She came to Lewistown from John Day, Oregon, a town of roughly 1,800 where she served as CNO for the Blue Mountain Hospital District.

Before that, White spent three decades at Idaho hospitals, working her way from lab technician to nursing, public health and then CNO.

Safe to say, White is familiar with the three-letter acronym. For those unfamiliar with it, or hospital hierarchy, she placed the position on the same level as CEO or CFO.

The CNO manages several departments, according to White. In her case, all but one are nursing departments. Labor and delivery, the ER and acute care, where most patients go after being admitted: all are scrutinized by White for quality, CMMC standards and state requirements.

“The managers of all the departments answer up to me,” she said.

This often fills White’s schedule with meeting, but that does not mean she’s adverse to groundwork.

“I’m a very hands-on person, so I’m here at 7 in the morning,” she said. “I round on all the patients every day. I introduce myself and ask how their care has been.”

“Rounding” is a carryover from White’s nursing days, referring to when nurses visit each of their assigned patients to check on their condition, comfort and medications. White’s background gives her an experienced eye as a manager.

“It’s very easy for me to spot the things we need to be doing and the things we need to work on,” she said.

From White’s point of view, this list includes more than basic skills, such as drawing blood or checking heart rate. It includes the emotion intelligence for caring and compassion.

White doesn’t just scrutinize her managers, nurses and laboratory technicians. She also works to provide resources to all of her departments as staff.

Some of White’s work involves the numbers that come with budgeting. As CNO, she keeps tabs on the conditions of department machines and which will need replacing, working to financially prepare for that eventuality.

Other resources are harder to define on paper. White counts herself as one, and she keeps her office door open as a sounding board for any staff members sorting out difficult situations. White views it as part of the job description.

“It’s my responsibility to give [the staff] the training to do their jobs well,” she said.

Sometimes, White explained, that training is offering up the experiences and situations she’s been through.

CNO is a title, and a job, she’s familiar with. CMMC and Lewistown are new to White. After four months, though, she can confidently say she’s eager to get to know them both.

“Coming here has been a real experience for me,” she said. “This hospital is so advanced and progressive. And Lewistown, the hospital and this state: the people are so wonderful. I felt like I have just come home.”



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