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New CNO at Emergency Nurses Association looking to help members take care of themselves

Monday September 10, 2012
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Gail Lenehan, RN
Emergency Nurses Association President Gail Lenehan was "thrilled" about the recent hiring of Betty Mortensen as CNO.

Mortensen, RN, MS, BSN, FACHE, took over as CNO of the ENA on May 1 after serving as vice president of patient care services and CNO at Rochelle (Ill.) Community Hospital. Mortensen is an emergency nurse and longtime member of the association. Combine that experience with engaging people skills, Lenehan said, and the ENA made the perfect hire.

"I just think she’s a great fit for the organization, both in personality as well as background," said Lenehan, RN, MSN, EdD, FAEN, FAAN. "She’s a quick study. She’s great to work with, very supportive, just the kind of person you want – the person … who brings people together and makes it more effective to work with each other and also more fun."


Betty Mortensen, RN
Mortensen, who started her career as a bedside nurse, has more than a quarter-century of experience in emergency nursing. Before coming to Rochelle Community Hospital, she was senior consultant at Implementation Management Assistance in Chadds Ford, Pa. Mortensen also has years of experience in leadership and management of EDs in the Chicago area and in instructing EMS personnel, nurses and emergency preparedness teams.

Mortensen is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, chairwoman of the Career Development Committee of the Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders, serves on the board of the Valparaiso (Ind.) University College of Nursing and was on the Workforce Committee of the Illinois Hospital Association.

"I call it surreal to be in this kind of role because it kind of pulls it all together," Mortensen said. "I consider myself a nurse’s nurse. I want to be able to help nurses take care of themselves and be able to help their needs so they can be successful in taking care of patients."

Mortensen’s background fits perfectly with what ENA Executive Director Sue Hohenhaus, RN, MA, CEN, FAEN, wanted in a CNO.


Sue Hohenhaus, RN
"What I was looking for in that particular position was someone who not only understood how to lead the nursing division of our organization but also someone who knew how to work with the nurses in our membership organization, as well as coming to us with what we call boots-on-the-ground experience – someone who’s actually done the work that our members have to do every single day," Hohenhaus said. "So she understands the clinical environment and also understands how to lead a team."

In her role as CNO, Mortensen oversees the Institute of Emergency Nursing Research, the Institute for Quality, Safety and Injury Prevention and the Department of Education and is expected to ensure that all three departments work closely together. The diverse nature of the ENA makes Mortensen’s job all the more demanding.

"The challenge of our organization, and Betty’s biggest challenge, is ... making sure that the work we do on our operational side is aligned with our strategic plan," Hohenhaus said. "Otherwise, we’d be going in so many different directions it would be very difficult to follow them all."

Coming to work at the Des Plaines, Ill.-based ENA headquarters admittedly was an eye-opener for Mortensen, who said she was "awed at everything that goes on to support our membership."

But she also said she loves the business side of the profession and embraces the challenges set forth for her.

"We’re all on the same ship, and we’re headed in the same direction, and I’m so excited about that," Mortensen said.

"For me it’s about giving back, and now I’m giving back to my profession."

Tom Clegg is a freelance writer.


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