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Dr. Colleen Swartz reflects on College of Nursing Hall of Fame induction

Colleen Swartz, DNP, MBA, RN
News Blog

/ by UK HealthCare

Dr. Colleen Swartz, chief nurse executive and chief administrative officer of UK HealthCare, was inducted into the UK College of Nursing Hall of Fame last fall for her extraordinary contribution to the nursing profession. After earning both her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the college, Swartz says the recognition by her alma mater is an honor.

The Hall of Fame was established in 2006, and the college selects five alumni for induction every five years. Swartz is one of 15 to be inducted out of nearly 7,000 College of Nursing alumni.

“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame for the UK College of Nursing is quite an honor,” she said. “I am certain there are many qualified graduates who deserve this honor. I am honored and quite humble to receive this recognition from my alma mater.”

Distinguished alumna

“Dr. Swartz is not only a Fellow of the National Academies of Practice, but a fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Leadership Program – two of the leading characteristics that set her apart as a nurse leader,” said Dr. Janie Heath, College of Nursing dean and Warwick Professor of Nursing. “We are proud to have such a distinguished alum as part of the third cohort of Hall of Fame inductees.”

Swartz received her bachelor of nursing from UK in 1987 and her doctor of nursing practice degree in 2011. She was appointed chief nurse executive of UK HealthCare in 2008. In this role, Swartz is responsible for developing strategy and directing the patient care and nursing practices within UK HealthCare. She provides leadership in clinical service areas, elevates nursing practice standards, and implements evidence-based programs and protocols to enhance the work environment and improve patient outcomes.

‘A champion for nurses’

As chief nurse executive and chief administrative officer for UK HealthCare, Swartz is dedicated to addressing the needs of nurses and their role in the healthcare profession, as well as overseeing nursing and all of the integrated operations of UK HealthCare’s hospitals. Issues facing nurses today range from staffing shortage to the changing landscape of public health and healthcare.

“Nurses today have so much information coming at them at a frenetic pace,” Swartz said. “The nurse today must be a master of synthesizing information rapidly, applying that information to a clinical situation, and maintaining a high level of situational awareness due to the complexity and intensity of clinical care and advancing clinical outcomes.”

“Dr. Swartz is an invaluable member of UK HealthCare’s senior leadership team and a champion for nurses,” said Dr. Mark Newman, executive vice president for health affairs at UK. “To see her honored by the College of Nursing as a member of its alumni Hall of Fame is fitting. She has demonstrated tireless dedication to her profession and a remarkable ability to lead and develop others.”

Advice for future nurses

Swartz credits her undergraduate and graduate experiences at UK as instrumental in shaping her career, not just as a nurse but as an administrator and a leader.

“I had the opportunity to observe and learn from so many amazing clinical leaders,” she said. “I also had the opportunity to observe and learn from so many high-performing interdisciplinary teams. It was during my educational experiences where I learned so much about myself and self-awareness to advance my own leadership journey.”

What advice does Swartz have for nursing students?

“Explore your options. There are so many opportunities in nursing,” she said. “Actively explore your options so you can understand and practice in an environment that is self-fulfilling. You will have so much impact on so many lives. Make sure to take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Your work and your thinking matter.”

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