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Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing

College of Health Sciences

Nursing Careers:
Administration in Nursing


Karleen "Kari" Goerke
MSN, RN, NEA-BC (BSN '86)
2013 Distinguished Alumna

What drew you to the career of nursing administrator?

When beginning my Masters education in Nursing, my desire was to teach. I was an educator within the facility in which I was working. As I continued in my course work, I was afforded opportunities within my workplace, enabling me to use my leadership knowledge and skills. I did not intend to be a nursing administrator, but I enjoyed the work every day, being able to make a difference for many patients through serving staff. I began as a director, then service line director, and ended up as the Chief Nursing Officer for ten years. This gave me great experience. Now I am able to teach at the pre and post-graduate levels. My experience of almost thirty years has given me many opportunities to learn, grow and change.

How did you prepare for it?

Going back for my Masters Education afforded me opportunities to prepare for this career. I try to read as much as possible, journals, books, research, etc. And finding mentors in the career is always helpful. I also had the opportunity to work with a couple of outstanding executive coaches. All of these people help keep you balanced and focused objectively on your goals.

What do you like the most about this career?

For administration, I loved assessing issues, strategizing, planning, and engaging staff in problem solving. Now that I am teaching, I love helping them think through their own situations and developing processes for learning and growing.

What are the biggest challenges?

Healthcare is changing, sometimes rapidly, and sometimes not fast enough. It is important to always stay focused on the reason we began our nursing careers: we care about patients! Keeping this in the forefront, amidst the chaos of our practice environments, is key to staying true to ourselves.

What advice would you have for a student interested in this field?

For administration: Be committed to doing the right thing for patients, always. Stay true to yourself. Journal and reflect to stay focused on the objective rather than subjective to evaluate accomplishments and opportunities.

More about Karleen Goerke:

For the last eighteen months, I have been teaching at a local university. It is phenomenal. I love students and their desire to engage and learn. Our future is bright! And I am going back to school myself. I started a doctoral program in July. It is stimulating and exciting to formally engage in learning again.

Also check out the article posted when the school named Goerke 2013 Distinguished Alumna. This article deals with her administrative role at Swedish Medical Center.

Goerke staffed the Nursing Administration booth at the 3/26/15 Online Alumni Mentoring event. Click here for more information

Karleen Goerke

Karleen Goerke
Nursing Administration: Karleen Goerke was the Chief Nursing Officer for ten years at Swedish Medical Center.

Goerke staffs nursing administration booth at online mentoring event


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