Vi-Anne Antrum, DNP '18 By Vi-Anne Antrum, DNP '18 • August 2, 2022

How I Used My Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree to Become a Chief Nursing Officer

I was working as a chief nursing officer (CNO) at a 186-bed rural facility in New York when I began searching for a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) program. I knew I needed a doctoral degree to enhance my knowledge and allow me to practice at the highest levels of nursing administration.

I searched nearly three years for a program that would match my professional aspirations. But I wasn’t finding anything that I considered exceptional. There were certainly good doctoral programs out there in healthcare administration, but none with the focus on nursing practice and administration that I was seeking.

When I found TESU’s DNP in Systems-Level Leadership, it was like a dream come true for me! After three years of searching, this was it. I loved the idea of earning my doctorate in systems-level leadership, because that area really is my passion.

I had already functioned in a systems-level management role and the pace and structure of the program appealed to me. The manageable scope of my CNO position at the time allowed me to complete my degree and stay active in practice.

The Next Step

After receiving this prestigious degree, along with my cohort colleagues, I knew I wanted to do more. It was at this time that I received a call from an executive recruiter about a new systemwide nursing administrator position at Cone Health in Greensboro, N.C.

And guess what? You needed a doctoral degree to be considered.

I went through multiple rounds of interviews, but my degree prepared me perfectly to think about the systems-level leadership needed to excel in this role. I was told to expect an answer by the end of March. But by mid-February, they called and told me, “We know you are not going to be on the market long, so we want to offer you the position.”

That’s the phrase any job seeker wishes to hear. Naturally, I was thrilled and happily accepted the position.

Putting My TESU Degree to Work

Since starting at Cone Health, the organization has seen multiple changes. In that first role, I was able to lead our system through multiple challenges during the pandemic. I was named a COVID Legend for that work. We had a merger that did not go through, a new CEO and new sites of service being built. My former boss is no longer there, and I have been promoted to the top nursing spot in the system. My old position has been eliminated, and I went from that position, to interim system chief nursing officer, to chief nursing officer for Cone Health.

Today, I get to help lead our system as part of our Enterprise Leadership Team, interface with our Board of Trustees and help transform healthcare for generations to come using our new strategic plan. This is such an exciting time to be part of healthcare!!

Despite the challenges associated with workforce planning, burnout, financial outcomes and a host of other things, I am optimistic about the future – both mine and the future of healthcare. I published my DNP project to help contribute to the body of nursing knowledge. I currently serve on several local boards with fiduciary responsibilities. I am forever grateful to TESU, Dr. Phyllis Marshall, Dr. Ana Maria Catanzaro, my professors and my fellow classmates for helping me to be where I am today.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, a line I frequently looked to when the pressures of balancing work and education felt to be too much: “You’ve picked the right occupation. Now, advance your education, keep going and don’t stop. The profession needs you.”

Vi-Anne Antrum, DNP '18

Written by Vi-Anne Antrum, DNP '18

Vi-Anne Antrum is the chief nursing officer at Cone Health in Greensboro, N.C. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Daemen College in Amherst, N.Y., and her master’s degree in business administration and nursing from University of Phoenix. After completing Harvard University’s managing healthcare delivery executive education program, she received a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from TESU. She is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and received the organization’s Distinguished Service Award in 2016. Antrum is a member of the North Carolina Healthcare Association Workforce Advisory Council. She is a 2022 Triad Nurse of Distinction and was an NC Great 100 Nurse in 2021.

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