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September 26, 2022/Nursing/Nurse Profile

Providing Exceptional Community Care Fuels New Chief Nursing Officer

Amanda Clark uses leadership skills to improve local healthcare access, mentor colleagues

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Longtime nurse leader Amanda Clark, MSN, RN, has been named chief nursing officer of Ashtabula County Medical Center (ACMC), an affiliate of Cleveland Clinic. Clark, who has served in leadership roles at ACMC for 12 years, says the new role aligns with her goal of improving local healthcare access.

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“I went into nursing leadership to make a difference in community health,” Clark says. “I’m passionate about nursing and its ability to drive safety, best practices and important healthcare changes that positively affect local communities — especially Ashtabula. I grew up here, and my friends and family live here. This community means a lot to me.”

While Clark has worked at other Cleveland Clinic locations and health systems in the northern Ohio region, she says every career experience brought her one step closer to home.

“Every place I’ve worked and every position I’ve held — formal or informal — has presented opportunities to affect practice changes that supported my passion for providing exceptional community healthcare,” Clark says.

Next-level nursing practice

In her first months on the job, Clark has been closely evaluating the quality, safety and efficiency of nursing care at ACMC. Much of her time has been dedicated to nurse staffing, assessing possible practice improvements and ensuring nursing caregivers follow Cleveland Clinic’s system-wide model of care.

Particularly familiar with the benefits of high-quality healthcare frameworks, she recently completed Cleveland Clinic’s year-long executive nurse fellowship in which the capstone project explored models of nursing care for the future.

Key to her team’s success is aligning nursing practice with the highest standards in safety and quality, says Clark, while ensuring that all caregivers have what they need to do their jobs.

“Unfavorable results in healthcare most often occur because of a failure somewhere in the process,” she says. “I aim to make sure ACMC caregivers are equipped with everything they need to excel.”

Mindset of continuous improvement

A desire to seek out process failures and fixing them is in Clark’s DNA.

“I analyze system processes — that’s the way my mind works,” she says. “I believe that by breaking down the system, asking questions and working together as a team to determine the root cause of the problem, you can adjust and implement meaningful change that benefits caregivers, the organization and the community.”

Early in her career, Clark took several Lean Six Sigma classes. Although they were manufacturing-driven, she says she could immediately see the crossover in healthcare. “I loved continuous improvement before it was a thing,” she says.

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Clark undertook one of her most notable improvement projects while working in the cardiac and vascular catheterization lab at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center. She spent five years implementing and developing new processes for caring for interventional cardiac patients and transitioning the lab from diagnostic to interventional — all without the benefit of on-site cardiothoracic surgery unit.

Embrace learning opportunities

Clark believes that nursing continually offers new things to consider and lessons to be learned. “You have to be adaptable because nursing is ever-changing,” she says. “My biggest piece of advice to other nurses is to remember that everyone is human. Try not to jump to judgment. Take a step back and listen.”

Early in her leadership career, Clark recalls one of her mentors asking her how she felt she was perceived by others. “I remember being surprised by the question,” she explains. “My perception was different than hers, which made me stop and think. She said that because I was so excited about my work, I sometimes talked over people — and I realized she was right. It was a learning opportunity for me and encouraged me to become more self-aware.”

One of Clark’s personal goals is to help other up-and-coming leaders recognize and overcome their perceived limitations. “I’m in the business of helping people,” she says. “I’m prepared to have the difficult conversations because I want others to succeed.”

Excitement ahead

Clark’s plans for ACMC all come back to providing exceptional care for the local community. The hospital recently broke ground on a new tower that will house the facility’s emergency department, operating room, post-anesthesia care unit, intensive care unit, medical-surgical beds and wound center.

“This is my dream! I’ve been heavily involved in planning the layout and function of the tower — all with the needs of our nursing caregivers in mind,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to the future and am excited about our hospital’s increasing ability to provide an even higher level of care to the community.”

The new ACMC tower is expected to welcome its first patients in 2024.

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