Nurse Director Leadership Program
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Start your leadership journey with the Nurse Director Leadership Program

About the Nurse Director Leadership Program

The Nurse Director Leadership Program is a dynamic 6-month course which empowers nurses to lead change in a rapidly changing environment. If you are a registered nurse who has more than six years of professional experience and have worked in or are new to the management and leadership role, this course is for you.

By taking part in this innovative course, you will be empowered and aspired through personal development, career coaching and learning sets. Once you graduate, you will be equipped with the skills to lead health workplace cultures through innovation, redesign and change. You will have honed the ability to develop high-performing teams that have a culture of success and achievement.

Nurse Director Leadership Program
Nurse Director Leadership Program

Start your unlimited leadership journey today, be a more successful leader

The ACN Nurse Director Leadership Program represents a powerful opportunity for you to develop the skills and behaviours that will differentiate you as a leader in today’s changing health care environment. As a high potential mid-career nurse leader, you will be supported to achieve with the knowledge and skills of experts in their fields.

You will receive six months of coaching from ACN’s Members and/or Fellows who will provide you with feedback and guidance, in order to practice meaningful, outcome-driven coaching conversations.


Program modules

Nursing leadership and strategy

High-performing teams leading and managing quality improvements

Clinical governance

Human resource management and communication

Health economics and financial management

Program objectives

On successful completion of this 6-month program, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the health and aged care systems in Australia and articulate the regulatory framework for the nursing profession
  • outline the health challenges of the 21st century and provide examples of how nursing is leading the way in meeting these challenges
  • lead health workplace cultures through innovation, redesign and change
  • apply the fundamentals of management to the workplace
  • demonstrate nursing leadership in developing high-performing teams that have a culture of success and achievement
  • identify key factors when evaluating effective workplace performance and patient care
  • demonstrate self-awareness and resilience that empowers you as a nurse leader.
Nurse Director Leadership Program

More information

For you to participate in this innovative program, you will need to meet the following selection criteria:

  • Be currently registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)
  • Have a minimum of six years’ postgraduate experience or be able to demonstrate an ability to influence organisations, team practices and/or cultures
    Such as nurse leaders seeking promotion into a management position
  • Be able to demonstrate leadership qualities in nursing and/or the health or aged care systems
    Such as recently appointed managers seeking to fast-track their development into confident self-directed leaders
  • Ability to complete the program work during the six-month timeframe

What do I need to complete the program?

You will have successfully completed the program once you demonstrate the following:

  • Completion of the five-day face-to-face masterclass
  • Participation in coaching sessions
  • Submission of written work demonstrating completion of a project/quality improvement initiative in line with the program modules

Plus, one or more of the following:

  • Participation in research and/or publishing on key nursing issues
  • Participation in action learning sets
  • Representation of the nursing profession
  • Demonstrated public speaking and presentation

What do I gain from completing this program?

You will be recognised as completing the Nurse Director Leadership Program delivered by highly respected senior nursing leaders in Australia. You will receive 36 hours towards your CPD requirements.

Once you have completed this program you will automatically become part of our dynamic, inspiring and talented alumni community. As an alumni participant you can access a range of benefits and services.

This course is valued at $5,500. At this time, ACN is extending two special offers for our members and Affiliate* organisations:

  • ACN members: gifted a 10% discount, bringing the course fee to $4,950
  • ACN Affiliates (*Platinum, Gold and Silver): gifted a 10% discount, bringing the course fee to $4,950
  • Non-members: $5,500 (be sure to contact should you wish to become a member)

The enrolment fee does not cover travel and accommodation costs associated with attendance at the face-to-face workshop for the program.

Kylie Ward

Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN

Chief Executive Officer, Australian College of Nursing

» About me

ACN CEO, RN, MMgt, FACN, FCHSM, Wharton Fellow, FAICD

Policy Reformer. Humanitarian. Visionary. Nurse. For-Purpose Leader. Equality Warrior. Adjunct Professor. Mum. Transformation Specialist.

From humble beginnings, Kylie has gone on to become one of the most influential professional health leaders of the country and a formidable, passionate advocate for the advancement of the nursing profession including the delivery of excellence in education.

Kylie’s strengths lie in breaking down the walls, reframing the issue for fresh thinking, and bringing people together to create long-lasting solutions.

Kylie currently serves as CEO of the Australian College of Nursing and CEO of the Australian College of Nursing Foundation. She has led a program of transformation including raising awareness of the profession and building a legacy of nursing leadership, policy, advocacy, and social impact, as well as creating hundreds of leadership and representation positions for nurses Australia wide. As such, ACN is now Australia’s beacon for Nurse Leadership.

Adjunct Professor Ward is inspired to ensure nurses from all backgrounds have access to world-class education at all stages of their career. She believes ongoing education is key to nurses working to their full scope of practice, contributing to the design of health systems and providing consumers with optimal care, every time.

Adjunct Professor Ward holds honorary professorships with seven leading Australian universities, and has been awarded several fellowships, including a Wharton Fellow, USA.

In 2023, Kylie was awarded a Commendation from the Chief of the Defence Force, for her exceptional devotion to military nurses and for raising the statue of Lieutenant Colonel Vivian Bullwinkel at the Australian War Memorial.

Kylie is a multi-award winner. In 2022, Kylie was named National Winner of Executive / Team Leader of the Year and Overall National Winner at the Outstanding Leadership Awards. In the same year, Kylie was named the ACT Winner of the Excellence in Women’s Leadership Awards by Women and Leadership Australia. She has been named Telstra ACT Businesswoman of the Year for Purpose and Social Enterprise.

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Christine Duffield

Emeritus Professor Christine Duffield FACN DLF

Board Director, Australian College of Nursing and Professor of Nursing and Health Services Management, University of Technology Sydney and Edith Cowan University

» About me


Christine’s career spans over 40 years working in Canada, New Zealand, the UK and Australia as a clinician, educator, manager, and researcher. She is an Emeritus Professor at Edith Cowan University, Perth, and the University of Technology Sydney.

She is a highly accomplished researcher and is one of the top 10 most-cited nursing and midwifery professors in Australia and New Zealand. Christine was named in Mendeley’s top 100,000 cited researchers in the world. She is an experienced Board Director and was the President/Chair of the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) from 2017 until recently.

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Belynda Abbott

Belynda Abbott FACN


» About me

Belynda has over 20 years’ experience and is currently the Nursing Director Education and Research for Darling Downs Health Service in Queensland.

Belynda has held nursing leadership roles including Nurse Educator, Nurse Manager and Nurse Unit Manager within the Australian health care system working in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Belynda has held the position of Assistant Director of Nursing in the Metro South Health Emergency Operations Centre supporting the COVID-19 response operationalising the COVID-19 screening clinics and hotel quarantine.

Belynda has co-authored a textbook on Monitoring and Administration of Intravenous medications for Enrolled Nurses through Cengage publishing. Belynda held the position of Board Director for Australian College of Nursing (ACN), ACN Chair for the Queensland, Emerging Nurse Leader mentor and member of the New Generation of Nurses Faculty. Belynda has presented at the International Council of Nurses Symposium with the ACN New Generation of Nurses Faculty in 2013, and was awarded a Fellow of ACN in 2014.

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Dr Jennifer Bichel-Findley

Dr Jennifer Bichel-Findlay FACN

Honorary Associate, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney and Secretary and Director, Australasian Institute of Digital Health

» About me

HScD, MN, MPH, GDipN, BAppSc, DipAppSc, CHIA, CHM, RN

Jen has been employed in the health service industry for 50 years in clinical, educative and managerial roles, and understands how technology and digitisation can influence patient outcomes and service delivery efficiency in the complex healthcare environment. Having worked on several local, state and national health informatics activities, she is not only committed to supporting data driven decision making at the local level but also major health reform through innovation and digital health initiatives at a state and national level.

Jen was the inaugural Director of Digital Health & Innovation at the UTS Faculty of Health, and has co-authored chapters addressing health informatics in nursing texts. She is currently a Board Director and Secretary for the Australasian Institute of Digital Health (AIDH), Chair of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Digital Health Network, and Vice President Special Affairs for the International Medical Informatics Association. Jen is a Fellow of both the AIDH and the Australian College of Nursing, and an Associate Fellow of the Australasian College of Health Service management.

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Dr Lynette Cusack MACN

Dr Lynette Cusack MACN

Outgoing Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

» About me

RN, midwife, PhD, MHA, BN, DN,MRCN Adelaide Nursing School, University of Adelaide

Dr Lynette Cusack MACN is an Associate Professor in the Adelaide Nursing School. Her research focus is on the contemporary role of the nurse/midwife in a range of different contexts, evaluating models of practice, including impact on the health care system, interdisciplinary team and patients’/women’s experience. Lynette is a member of the International Collaboration on Occupational Resilience (ICOR) and has been involved in developing models of workplace resilience for nurses/midwives. Lynette provides practice-based research support to nurses and midwives at a major metropolitan hospital in South Australia. Other teaching and research contributions include leadership and management, professional practice development and disaster response.

Lynette previously worked in a range of community health settings, including home nursing, community health centres and in an executive role in drug and alcohol services. Lynette also has many years of experience in nursing and midwifery regulation.

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Bernie Harrison

Adjunct Associate Professor Bernie Harrison MACN (Assoc)

Associate Professor University of Sydney School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Director of the ACHS Improvement Academy

» About me

MPH (Hons), Grad Cert Med Ed, RN, RM

Bernie Harrison has over 30yrs experience in health care, as a clinician, researcher and quality and safety (Q&S) expert. She has extensive experience in designing and delivering Q&S training programs in the Asia pacific region. Her training in quality improvement and patient safety occurred in the USA in 2001 and 2010 as a Fulbright Scholar. She has extensive experience in health care system redesign and has published a Breakthrough Collaborative (Harrison et al Vox Sanguinis 2014) in improving red cell transfusion in the elective surgical setting. She co-authored the Quality in Australian Health Care Study (MJA 1995), the most cited paper in the journal’s 100yr history.

Her previous positions include: Executive Director of Hospital Performance for the National Health Performance Authority and Director in the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission. Her clinical experience as a registered nurse and midwife in the UK and Australia: maternity and child health, intensive care, aged care and mental health.

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Adjunct Associate Professor Susanne Hawes FACN

Adjunct Professor Sue Hawes FACN

Chief Executive Officer, Queensland – Diabetes Australia

» About me

MRNC, RN, BHlthSc, Grad Cert (Disability), EMBA, MAICD
Greenbelt Six Sigma, CoachU Dip

Adjunct Professor Sue Hawes FACN is a registered nurse and has worked in numerous roles as a senior clinician and executive. She is the CEO in Queensland for Diabetes Australia and formally held the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer role of the Northern Territory (NT).

Sue is a leader of change and committed to the development of others. She regularly supports emerging leaders in coaching and teaching.

Sue enjoys collaborating with health staff to solve wicked problems that deliver improvements to service delivery. Sue is a Fellow of the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

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Mark Kearin FACN

Mark Kearin FACN

Director of Research, Health Management Liaison and Informatics

» 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, and 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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Tony McGillion

Adjunct Professor Tony McGillion MACN


» About me

Tony is a Registered Nurse with 36 years of nursing experience in a variety of roles. He started his career in the United Kingdom and was also fortunate enough to experience cross-cultural nursing in Saudi Arabia. After arriving ‘on the boat’ from England, Tony worked clinically in critical care areas, then as an educator/coordinator of the graduate program at Epworth Hospital. Tony moved into leadership and management roles, working as a NUM and as a Manager of Nursing Education teams at both Cabrini Health and Austin Health.

In 2014, Tony was seconded to the Victorian government in a senior policy advisor role which segued into the Manager of the Nursing and Midwifery Workforce branch. He then went to La Trobe University as Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing Practice where he also looked after the Diploma/Bachelor transition degree in Singapore.

Tony has completed a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Health Administration and currently holds adjunct positions at the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University. His most recent role at Western Health has a significant focus on the leadership development of our senior nurses and midwives and the role of good leadership in mitigating risks of the clinical governance failures we have seen in the past. Tony enjoys his advocacy role with the College and has mentored several mid-career and emerging nurse leaders to maximise their potential.

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Karen Tuqiri

Karen Tuqiri MACN


» About me

Karen Tuqiri is the Director of Nursing at The Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney. Programs of work Karen leads focus on workforce development, quality improvement, patient safety and implementing evidence-based practice change whilst developing a deeper understanding of the influence of leadership on workplace culture. She is a current PhD candidate with her area of study focused on developing a deeper understanding of the relationship person-centred practice has on patient safety outcomes.

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Apply now

Nurse Director Leadership Program masterclasses will take place on the following dates:

  • 6 – 10 May 2024 in Sydney
  • 14 – 18 October 2024 in Melbourne

You can apply now to secure your spot or subscribe to program updates to be notified as soon as more information becomes available.

Note: You will need to log in to your account before applying. If you do not have an existing account, please register and follow the prompts.

Nurse Director Leadership Program