Janice Kishner is a long-term member of WHEN. She was born in Canada, and received her associate degree in nursing there. Her first job was at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. She met her future husband, Stephen when he was serving as an intern. They married and moved to New Orleans for his residency. Janice was hired as the Head Nurse of the pediatric unit at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie. During her 30-year tenure at East Jefferson, she held a number of leadership positions including Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer. She also led the nursing department to achieve Magnet Hospital designation, and is a fellow of ACHE. Janice’s interest in nursing began at four years of age when she accompanied a favorite aunt who was an occupational nurse to a nursing event. She now has her own consulting company, JLK Strategic Consulting.
WHEN: Who were some of the people who influenced you professionally early in your career?
Kishner: At the Royal Victoria Hospital, my director of surgical services was a wonderful mentor. Additionally, the CNO there, Lorraine Bessel was an intriguing role model. She was masters prepared, always very engaged with staff nurses, and brought a high degree of professionalism to the department. My father was also a big influence on my leadership style. He ran a manufacturing plant and used positive and ingenious methods to increase productivity. He taught me the importance of setting goals, rolling up your sleeves and working side by side with the staff, and the importance of individual and team rewards.
WHEN: How has health care changed since you’ve been in this field?
Kishner: Well, although nursing is at the epicenter of healthcare, it is sort of hanging on by its toenails. Today, organizations are less able to afford the support structure for nursing to flourish. Today there is intense financial pressure on all healthcare organization leaders. This can lead to a diminished tolerance for mistakes. The mentality starts to be, ‘what have you done for me today’, rather than looking at one’s entire body of work.
WHEN: How have you changed as a leader over the course of your career?
Kishner: Coming from the north, early in my career, I tended to be too direct, talked fast, and worked with an intensity that was kind of foreign in New Orleans’ culture. So over time, I’ve learned to slow down and adapt to this culture rather than expecting others to conform to my style.
WHEN: Of all your professional accomplishments thus far, of what are you most proud?
Kishner: Being respected and liked by my colleagues.
WHEN: We’ve all made mistakes or had an occasional faux pas in our careers. What were some of yours and what did you learn from them?
Kishner: There were many, but whenever I would go back and analyze the root cause, it was inevitably a communication failure. So I’ve learned how to be more specific and clear in my communication.
WHEN: What has been your biggest career challenge:
Kishner: Over the years, our organization went through 3 rounds of downsizing. That is a very challenging process. I always needed to balance my fiduciary responsibilities while keeping morale and quality of care high.
WHEN: How do you maintain your work/life balance?
Kishner: First, I have an extremely supportive husband. He never has put his career needs over mine. I like to continuously set new goals for myself. I call it ‘re-inventing myself’. I find this very helpful in keeping current and engaged. I am also very physically active, which helps. My husband and I love to travel, so always having the next trip to look forward to is very nice.
WHEN: What advice do you have for young women executives?
Kishner: I would say that when it’s all said and done, the most important thing is to maintain your integrity.