Nursing executive combines innovation with advocacy for women leaders

Kim Tharp-Barrie established the Institute for Nursing in 2010 and three years later it was one of only four organizations in the nation to gain National League for Nursing accreditation.

Kim Tharp-Barrie, DNP, R.N., vice president, Institute for Nursing and Workforce Outreach, Norton Healthcare, has a legacy of innovative leadership at Norton Healthcare. Throughout her 17-year career with the organization, Kim has taken an innovative approach to nursing while being a strong advocate for women leaders.

“Nursing is the heart of Norton Healthcare and caring is the essence of nursing,” Kim said.

According to Kim, over 5,000 of our caregivers are nurses, and 90 percent of those are women. It’s important to listen to those diverse voices to support our patients and community.

“Diversity and inclusiveness must permeate our culture at all levels for optimal engagement and optimal patient care outcomes,” said Kim.

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Kim was the first Norton Healthcare employee to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. She established the Norton Healthcare Institute for Nursing as part of her capstone project in 2010. Three years after its launch, the Institute for Nursing became one of only four organizations in the nation to gain accreditation from the League for Nursing. Today, employees can gain new work experience and skills through the Institute, which helps develop Norton Healthcare’s next great nursing leaders. Kim is quick to point out that leadership is more than a title.

“While it’s imperative for women to seek positions of leadership, high-level nursing leadership is not necessarily position-dependent,” Kim said. “Nurses lead everyday as they respond to patient and family care issues, conflict in the workplace and crisis situations.”

Kim points to Norton Healthcare’s culture for allowing her the opportunities to grow as a focused leader. She calls out Tracy E. Williams, DNP, R.N., senior vice president and system chief nursing officer, along with Joanne Berryman, provost, Spalding University, for their mentorship throughout her career and credits them for her successful career pursuits. She also looks to her mother as a constant role model throughout her life, professionally and personally. Kim’s mother passed away in 2002, but the lessons she learned from her are still with her today.

“She was always kind and picked her battles with dignity and grace,” Kim said.

As for the next generation of women leaders? Kim advices them to remember that the “next big thing” might not be part of a plan that works best for them.

“Be true to yourself, practice self-awareness and do the right thing,” Kim said. “If you are lucky, you’ll get paid for doing something you love while serving and making a difference for others.”


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