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DBT40 Honoree: Jennifer Painter

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AGE: 38
Director of Nursing Professional Development and Education
ChristianaCare, Newark

Why should you be chosen for DBT 40?  Because I am an energetic senior nursing leader within Delaware’s largest health system.  I have worked in ChristianaCare’s Nursing Professional Development & Education department since 2012 and was named department director in 2016.  At that time, the nursing education workforce became centralized and a new organizational infrastructure was designed, which increased department staff from around 10 to more than 60 employees. I am proud to direct the team that leads all strategic efforts related to nursing professional development throughout ChristianaCare. 

Professional accomplishments: I began my nursing career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) right out of high school in 1999 and I continued to work while sending myself back to school to obtain my bachelor’s degree and Registered Nurse (RN) license in 2003.  I started working at ChristianaCare after becoming an RN and continued my education to ultimately earn a master’s of science in nursing and a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. Throughout my professional career, I have presented locally, nationally, and internationally related to nursing professional development and other topics, published an article related to my DNP project on the creation of an Advanced Practice Nurse Residency, and maintained involvement in numerous councils, committees and advisory boards because I enjoy being a part of the growth of nursing within Delaware. 

Leadership examples: Becoming director of ChristianaCare’s Nursing Professional Development & Education department allowed me to centralize all the nursing education workforce and design a new organizational infrastructure to support the health system. I have partnered with nurse leaders and other system leaders on content related to leadership behaviors and practices, as well as our educators on their competencies, and updated job specifications.  My current role is all about leadership and professional development and fostering these activities throughout our health system and within our state.I have active involvement in systemwide activities related to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) strategic plan, BSN on hire agreement, and the Request for Proposals in the selection process for the new Learning Management System. My team has redesigned the support programs for tuition for employees enrolled in qualifying programs, completely redeveloped the system strategic plan for patient education, created a new Nurse Practitioner residency program and received accreditation with distinction for our Emergency Department, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Critical Care residency programs.  In addition, I have initiated and led active research and service-line project work with a focus on Lean Six Sigma Green and Black Belt methodologies, and I was thrilled to co-lead a transformative research study with Neumann University on specialized Dedicated Education Units between Christiana Care Health System nurse preceptors and Neumann University students.

Community service: I have volunteered for Special Olympics Delaware since 1999, serving as one of the on-site nurses at Summer Games and other sports tournaments to help with first aid or other health-related services. I also stay connected to my oncology nurse roots by helping with skin cancer screenings at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center, and I also see patients there who are interested in smoking cessation. I am also happy to have been on the board of directors for the Delaware Diamond Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society for many years, including two years serving as president.

Tell us something that’s not on your LinkedIn profile: An important part of my story that you won’t find on my LinkedIn profile are the life-altering personal decisions I needed to make in order to improve my life and successfully follow my calling and passion to become a nurse.  Upon graduating from high school, I made the difficult decision to separate myself from my dysfunctional biological family.  Misuse of alcohol, drugs and gambling were all too often the points of emphasis for my family and their friends, which is a much easier trap to succumb to than escape.  I made the decision at a young age that I would not continue that type of lifestyle.  I wanted to have a loving family and have my children grow up in a loving home without worrying about having food, electricity or running water.  I didn’t want them to worry about whether their parents would make it home alive at the end of each night.  I also had the great fortune of finding a family that I lovingly say unofficially adopted me and gave me the support, security and productive environment I needed to focus on college, establish my career and start the next exciting and wonderful chapter in my life.

Jennifer and her kids at a West Virginia University football game.

Where are you most at ease? At the beach — the ocean and sand are my happy place!

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher or a nurse . and now I get to be both an educator and a nurse!

Who’s your favorite superhero?  Wonder Woman!

Go-to Karaoke song: “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey.

Family and education: My husband’s name is John, and we have two kids, a daughter (Emily, 11) and a son (Eliah, 9). I completed both my bachelor of science in nursing (2003) and master of science in nursing (2006) at the University of Delaware, and I completed my doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree from Wilmington University in 2018. I am also certified in Nursing Professional Development, Nurse Executive-Advanced, Oncology Certified Nurse, and Advanced Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist.

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