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Longtime head leaves nurse leadership program

Monday September 24, 2012
Shirley Chater, RN
Shirley Chater, RN
(Photo courtesy of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
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Shirley Chater, RN, PhD, FAAN, the national advisory committee chairwoman for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundationís Executive Nurse Fellows program since its inception in 1998, has stepped down from her post, the Foundation announced.

Terry Fulmer, RN, PhD, FAAN, professor and dean of the Bouve College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University, takes over the position.

RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows is a three-year program that strengthens the leadership capacity of nurses who aspire to shape healthcare locally and nationally. Fellows receive coaching, education and other support to strengthen their ability to lead teams and organizations that improve healthcare. More than 200 nurse leaders have participated in the program.

Executive nurse fellows hold senior leadership positions in health services, scientific and academic organizations, public health and community-based organizations or systems, and national professional, governmental and policy organizations. They continue in their current positions during their fellowships, developing, planning and implementing a new initiative to improve healthcare delivery in their communities.

"The Executive Nurse Fellows program has always been the jewel in the Foundationís crown," Chater said, according to a news release. "Itís been a wonderful, wonderful experience for me."

Chater worked side by side with RWJF leaders to develop the program and has been its chairwoman since it launched. Before that, she was commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration under President Clinton. She also has been president of Texas Womanís University and vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of California, San Francisco.

When she received her doctorate from the UC Berkeley in 1964, Chater was one of only 64 nurses nationwide to hold that degree. The American Academy of Nursing honored her as a "Living Legend" in 2000. RWJF recently named her a "Force Multiplier" for being a nursing trailblazer and pioneer. The Force Multiplier recognition program is in honor of the Foundationís 40th anniversary (www.rwjf.org/en/about-rwjf/40th-anniversary/force-multipliers.html).

"The fellows are the future of the profession," Fulmer said in a news release. "My commitment is to be there for them, with them, among them."

Still, said Fulmer, "nobody replaces Shirley Chater. She is iconic and has created a program that will have an indelible impact on the future of nursing and the history of nursing."

The nurse fellowship program (www.executivenursefellows.org/) is located at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C.

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