Karlene M. Kerfoot
65BSN, 70MA

Achievement 2001

Karlene M. Kerfoot

Karlene M. Kerfoot, 65BSN, 70MA, has 28 years of experience in nursing and is currently senior vice president for nursing and patient care services and chief nurse executive and associate dean for clinical practice at the University of Indiana School of Nursing.

For several years, she has been the cohost of "Nursing Approach", a weekly program on CNBC cable television. This show is the first program for and about nurses. When the producer selected her to anchor the series, Kerfoot says she guessed wanted someone from "the real world."

She can certainly boast that. Founder of Iowa Citys free medical clinc, Kerfoot also served as chief of the Mental Health Assistance and Community Services Division of the Linn County Psychiatric Clinic in Cedar Rapids from 1974 to 1978. She went on to become an assistant professor at the UI College of Nursing from 1979 to 1981, and senior associate director of the UI Division of Nursing from 1981 to 1985.

After receiving her doctorate in 1983, Kerfoot joined St. Lukes Episcopal Hospital in Houston, where she translated her real-world experience into innovative management that made the hospital internationally famous. During her first months at the hospital, as the executive vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer, she implemented a "shared governance" system, giving all direct patient care nurses a say in policies related to finance, quality assurance, and nursing professional practices.

To further nurture new ideas, Kerfoot established the Center for Nursing Innovation at St. Lukes. Taking an entrepreneurial approach to nursing, Kerfoot sought help from experts in marketing, advertising, editing, and graphics to transform nurses ideas into viable, revenue-producing services and product lines that also enhanced patient care. One such venture is the Code Blue Game, a board game used for annual credentialing of nurses that stimulates critical thinking skills needed for the care of cardiac- and respiratory-arrest patients. The center also publishes a quarterly journal, The Innovator, which spreads the word about new ideas to the nursing community.

Kerfoot received the lifetime Membership Award from the alumni association of the University of Texas in 1987, and she was inducted as a Fellow into the American Academy of Nursing in 1989. For her lifelong commitment to improving clinical practices in the country, Kerfoot has received many prestigious honors, most notably, an international award from Sigma Theta Tau for excellence in leadership, and most recently, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses "Pioneering Spirits Award" in May 2000.