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Due to the unfolding coronavirus situation and, in accordance with official advice from authorities, the commencement of the inaugural Nurse Executive Leadership Program has been postponed to 19 October 2020. As a result of this the speaker line-up may change. We thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

About the program

The Nurse Executive Leadership Program will develop those in, or those aspiring to, nurse executive roles with the capabilities required to meet the future social, political and economic challenges in health and aged care. The program is structured to meet the requirements of ACN’s Nurse Executive Capability Framework supporting nursing executives nationally to continue in the health and aged care industry as they navigate the current health care landscape and strengthen their knowledge and influence in their existing and future roles.

For more information, including program objectives, outcomes and selection criteria please refer to the program flyer.

Program modules

  • Nursing leadership
  • Nurses as strategic leaders
  • Operational management
  • Health economics and financial management
  • Marketing and communication
  • Clinical governance
  • Human resource management
  • Nursing in a technological and digital health era

Program objectives

On successful completion of this program participants will be able to:

  • balance expectations related to operational management and executive leadership
  • influence, monitor, guide at a strategic level, network, partner, and be across the latest evidence to make decisions
  • lead the strategy and facilitate implementation
  • build capacity in the next leadership level and throughout the organisation.

Program speakers

Professor Christine Duffield FACN

Professor Christine Duffield FACN

Australian College of Nursing President and Professor of Nursing and Health Services Management, UTS & ECU

» About me

Professor Christine Duffield FACN is an internationally acclaimed nursing workforce researcher and Australia’s leading voice on the impact of nursing workload and skill mix on patient outcomes and the quality of patient care. Christine joined the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) Board in 2013 and is currently the President of ACN.

Christine is the Professor of Nursing and Health Services Management at Edith Cowan University and the University of Technology Sydney. Christine is a highly accomplished international researcher with significant experience in the health and education industries in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Christine is one of the top 10 most-cited Australian and New Zealand nursing and midwifery professors.

Christine focused on transforming the nursing sector over the course of her 40-year career. During this time, she has worked extensively with state and federal decision-makers as well as internationally, with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Council of Nurses (ICN), to drive change and innovation in health care delivery. As a result, she is highly regarded by practitioners as a researcher who understands the world in which they work and can translate results into practice and policy.

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Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN

Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN

Australian College of Nursing Chief Executive Officer

» About me

ACN CEO, RN, M.Mgt, Dip.App.Sci (Nursing), Acute Care Cert., FACN, FCHSM, Wharton Fellow, MAICD

Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN is a renowned leader and a passionate CEO who has shaped the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) to become a prominent and influential professional organisation. As well as leading a strong and collective voice for the nursing profession to improve patient outcomes and the social determinants of health for all Australians, Kylie is also driven to improve gender equality and diversity as well as promoting the importance of women in leadership roles both nationally and internationally.

Kylie’s distinguished career spans almost three decades, and has seen her hold Executive positions in the largest health services in NSW and Victoria. Through her commitment to reform, transformational change and leadership development, she has been awarded honorary Professorships from Monash University, Deakin University, University of Technology Sydney, Western Sydney University and Federation University.

Kylie is the first nurse to be appointed by the Federal Minister as a Board Director of the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA). She is a Board Director of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC), as well as serving Ministerial appointments to the Aged Services Industry Reform Committee (IRC) and the Health Translation Advisory Committee (HTAC) of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Dedicating her career and purpose to empowering others, Kylie has received widespread recognition and received multiple awards including the 2017 ACT Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award for Social Purpose and Enterprise and 2018 Western Sydney University Prestigious Alumni’s Award for Professional Excellence.

Kylie is an inspiring leader with a flair for inspiring others and promoting a socially responsible and progressive culture. A motivational executive, Kylie has led thousands with her holistic, innovative and transformational approach to leadership, focusing on building resilience and empowering people to meet organisational challenges.

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Mary Chiarella

Professor Mary Chiarella AM FACN

Professor of Nursing, University of Sydney

» About me

RN, RM, LLB (Hons), PhD (UNSW)

Professor Mary Chiarella’s AM FACN career spans 40 years both in the United Kingdom and Australia across a variety of nursing services. Mary is Professor of Nursing, Susan Wakil School of Nursing at the University of Sydney. In 2003/04 she was the Chief Nursing Officer, NSW Health Department and prior to that she was the Foundation Professor of Nursing in Corrections Health, with the University of Technology, Sydney.

Mary has provided her professional expertise to health services, organisations and governments over the years. She is a Board member of Northern Sydney LHD and currently chairs their Health Care Quality Committee. She also serves on the Clinical Ethics Advisory Panel to the NSW Minister for Health and the Clinical Governance Advisory Committee to healthdirect Australia.

Mary’s particular research interests focus on legal, policy and ethical issues in nursing, midwifery and health care delivery. She publishes and speaks nationally and internationally on her work. She has recently completed an ARC funded study of a comparative analysis of health professional complaints processes between the new Australian national regulation scheme and the NSW scheme and has just completed a study with a grant from the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing exploring insight and continuing competence in clinical practice performance.

She was awarded an AM for significant contributions to nursing and midwifery education and healthcare standards in June 2019.

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Mark Kearin FACN

Mark Kearin FACN

Manager Member Organising Team, ANMF

» About me

Mark Kearin FACN is a nurse professional with over 25 years’ experience in senior nursing and heath executive roles in major health services in NSW and QLD. Mark prides himself on his analytical, data mining, financial, workforce and project management skills which have enabled informed decision making for improved patient outcomes and effective service delivery model implementation.

Mark’s exceptional skills in workforce modelling, skills mix analysis and understanding of the industrial framework underpinning acute, aged care and primary and community health settings has advanced him as a sought after expert in the workplace, as well as lecturing in the tertiary sector. Mark has an innate understanding of using data to support decision making, financial management of health care with a focus on case-mix and activity based funding models.

Mark’s contribution to the nursing profession in Australia extends to his appointment as a Non-Executive Director on the Nurses and Midwives Health Insurance Board and a Council Member of the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards.

Mark has been a trailblazer in his areas of expertise throughout his career. He was the first Nursing Unit Manager in NSW to trial unit based budgeting and the first nurse within the heath service to have a dual role of a Nursing Director and Business Manager within a clinical stream across a number of facilities, paving the way for nurses in NSW to be respected as dual professionals.

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David Plunkett FACN

Adjunct Professor David Plunkett FACN

Australian College of Nursing Board Director and Chief Executive, Eastern Health

» About me

David Plunkett FACN GAICD, MBA, RN is Chief Executive Eastern Health Melbourne Victoria, where he operationalises the strategic plan, quality and financial plan for the current and future financial years of the health service. David has been an Executive for Eastern Health in Melbourne for a number of years where he provided professional leadership to the nurses and midwives within Eastern Health. He has a deep understanding of the need to manage and mitigate risk, scope, assess and implement improvements to performance – on any aspect of health service performance.

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Leanne Boyd

Professor Leanne Boyd MACN

Executive Director Learning and Teaching / Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Eastern Health

» About me

Professor Leanne Boyd MACN joined the Eastern Health Executive as Executive Director Learning and Teaching / Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer (CNMO) in November 2019. Prior to this appointment she was Group Executive Director of Clinical Education, Research and Nursing at Cabrini. She has a clinical background in critical care and over 30 years’ experience in health professional education. Previously, she worked at Monash University as Director of Academic Programs (Middle East) and Head of Department Community Emergency Health and Paramedic Practice.

Leanne holds post graduate qualifications in Education and Critical Care from Monash University and a Masters in Tertiary Education Management from Melbourne University. Her PhD investigated health program evaluation models. She is about to complete a Masters in Business Administration and supervises six PhD students. Current priorities include university recognition of industry based learning and teaching and innovative models of care that are centred around the patient/carer and their community with a focus on safety and high quality care.

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Alison McMillan

Alison McMillan MACN

Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer

» About me

Alison McMillan MACN was appointed the Commonwealth Government Department of Health’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer in November 2019.

A registered nurse, Alison holds a Bachelor Degree in Education, a Master of Business Administration and in 2009 received a National Emergency Medal in recognition of service following the Victorian Bushfires.

As the Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Alison delivers high-level policy advice to the Minister for Health, the Executive and staff within the Department of Health and represents the Department at national and international levels.

Alison’s experience spans more than 30 years across the Victorian and English public health systems. She is an experienced manager having held senior executive roles in government and health services including as Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer in Victoria where she made a major contribution to the work to improve the recognition of, and response to, clinical deterioration as the Chair of the Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care’s Steering Committee on the deteriorating patient for five years.

Alison’s commitment and contributions to advancing community health outcomes include her activities abroad as Deputy Team Leader, Australian Foreign Medical Team in Banda Aceh, Indonesia in 2005 following the Indian Ocean Tsunami, Nurse and Midwifery Team Leader for the Australian Medical Assistance Team deployment to Vanuatu following cyclone Pam in 2015 and advisor to the Ministry for Health Fiji on behalf of the Australian Government following Cyclone Winston in 2016.

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Angela Ryan

Angela Ryan MACN

Chief Clinical Information Officer and General Manager, Workforce & Education, Australian Digital Health Agency

» About me

Angela Ryan is the Australian Digital Health Agency’s Chief Clinical Information Officer and General Manager, Workforce & Education.

Angela is a clinical leadership and health informatics professional with 30 years’ experience in hospitals and public sector organisations and more than two decades’ experience as a paediatric and adult intensive care nurse.

Angela is a Fellow and former President of the Australasian College of Health Informatics, and now founding Board member of the newly established Australasian Institute of Digital Health. In 2017 Angela was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study methods to prevent patient harm through national digital health safety governance and completed travel to the UK, USA and Canada as part of the Churchill Fellowship research at the end of 2018. The report has been published and is available online at the Churchill Fellowship website.

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Kristen Connell

Kristen Connell

Director, Talkforce Media and Communications Strategists

» About me

Kristen Connell is an experienced media professional who has provided strategic media advice to senior executives of major organisations, Ministers and politicians.

She started her career as a journalist including nearly a decade in the Press Gallery at Parliament House, during which time she interviewed CEOs, Ministers and union officials and attended hundreds of doorstops and press conferences.

She now utilises this experience in delivery of training to provide participants with a strong understanding of the mechanics of the media interview and how to maximise performance and outcomes.

Kristen has also worked as a political press officer for a Federal Senator. This included speechwriting, public relations and media liaison. As part of this position, Kristen provided media advice and assistance to Federal and State politicians during two election campaigns.

In addition, Kristen has spent nearly a decade undertaking public relations, media management, strategic planning, workshop facilitation, lobbying, policy development and project management for high profile national organisations and government departments, including the Australian Medical Association.

Her long history in media relations has made Kristen a respected advisor to organisations seeking to increase their media profile, deliver positive key messages about their achievements and manage their public image during times of intense scrutiny.

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Alison Verhoeven

Alison Verhoeven

Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

» About me

Alison Verhoeven is Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, the independent peak membership body and advocate for the Australian health care system and a national voice for universally accessible, high quality health care in Australia. Its members include public and not-for-profit hospitals, primary health networks, primary and community health services, universities and individual health leaders. Alison has broad experience in health, education, corporate governance and communications, and has worked in both the private and public sectors in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region, and Europe.

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Program delivery

The inaugural program will commence in October 2020 and will run over a twelve-month period. Participants are supported through personal development activities, mentoring and learning sets. The program will commence with a five-day face-to-face workshop in Canberra on 19 October 2020.

Apply now

Applications for the inaugural program commencing on 19 October 2020 are currently open. Apply now for this exclusive opportunity or register your interest to receive more information as soon as it is released.

Nightingale Challenge scholarships

Nursing Now has launched the Nightingale Challenge which aims to have at least 20,000 young nurses and midwives, aged 35 or under, benefiting from leadership and development training in 2020, which marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and has been officially declared as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization.

The Nightingale Challenge is calling on large employers of nurses globally to provide leadership and development training for 20 young nurses and midwives in 2020. This will give young nurses the skills they need to play an even more influential role in global health.

To find out more about the challenge download the Nightingale Challenge brochure or head to the Nursing Now website.

Nursing Now logo

How to get involved

We are inviting organisations to partner with us to fulfil the challenge requirements by offering subsidised registration rates for our Mid-Career Nurse Leadership Program ($4,000) and Nurse Executive Leadership Program ($7,000). Contact for more information.

Young nurse leaders
As the lead organisation for Nursing Now in Australia, we are also proud to support the challenge by providing five $1,000 scholarships for the Mid-Career Nurse Leadership Program and five $1,500 scholarships for the Nurse Executive Leadership Program to eligible applicants aged 35 or under. To find out more contact