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People Connections and Building Relationships: An Interview with Cathleen Wheatley

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In this episode, Cathleen Wheatley, DNP, RN, CENP, FAAN, President of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and Sr. Vice President of Clinical Operations speaks with Senior Clinical Editor, Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP, CCRN-K.

Highlights of the conversation include:

  • Growing services to meet the needs of the community, improving quality to meet the needs of patients, and attending to the needs of the workforce.
  • How being visible and communicating with the front line allows more informed decision-making.
  • Advice for nurses interested in leadership and board membership, including being intentional, identifying mentors, and taking risks.

Wheatley-1203.jpgDr. Wheatley joined Wake Forest Baptist Health in September of 2014 as System Chief Nurse Executive and was named President of the flagship 885-bed academic medical center in April of 2019. As President, she is responsible for the overall performance of operations at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center inclusive of Brenner Children’s Hospital and the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Wheatley brings disciplined leadership to bear on complex issues where clinical expertise, strategic thinking and organizational savvy are essential. As a leader, she uses experience and insight to provide structure, order, and clarity to enable teams to make rapid and lasting progress on critical issues.  Her naturally holistic and global perspective was enhanced when she served as the first Corporate Nurse Executive of Abu Dhabi Health Services Company in the United Arab Emirates, a position she held prior to joining Wake Forest Baptist Health. There she was responsible for the professional practice and development of more than 9,000 Nursing and Allied Health professionals from over 72 countries.  Earlier in her career, she held senior leadership positions at Dekalb Regional Health System in Atlanta, Ga., including Senior Vice President, Chief Clinical Operating Officer, Chief Nurse Executive, and Chief Quality Officer.

Dr. Wheatley earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nursing at Georgia State University and her Doctorate in Nursing Practice at the University of Central Florida. She is a Fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Nursing, is board certified with the American Organization of Nurse Leaders as a Certified Executive in Nursing Practice and completed the Nurse Leader Program at the Wharton School of Business. She is a member of the American Nurses Association, N.C. Nurses Association, the American Academy of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, American Organization of Nurse Leaders, N.C. Organization of Nurse Leaders, and the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Active in professional organizations, Dr. Wheatley currently serves as immediate Past-President of the Board of the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research (FNINR) and Board Member-at-Large for the North Carolina Nurses Association. She is a member of the Beryl Institute CNO Council and the HealthLeaders CEO Exchange, and serves on the Advisory Board for Capella University School of Nursing and the Board of Visitors for the University of Minnesota School of Nursing.

Dr. Wheatley’s philanthropic interests include the economic independence of women in developing countries and educational preparatory programs with a global focus. She is a current sponsor of Women for    Women International and a past member of the Board of Trustees of the Atlanta International School.