Our Team


We provide healthcare organizations with expert assessments, guidance, and educational services to create superior healthcare and academic environments that consistently demonstrate high performance for quality and safety outcomes.

Our consultants provide services to clients who aspire to achieve such awards as Magnet®, Pathway to Excellence®, Malcolm Baldrige Awards, WHO/Baby Friendly Designations, and accreditation processes for academic settings.

Our consultants have experience with a variety of settings including community based and critical access hospitals, nurse-run clinics, large teaching hospitals, long term care facilities, international organizations, academic programs and emerging Accountable Care Organizations.

Our Consultants

Vicki George, PhD, RN, FAAN

Vicki George is noted for her specialization with helping organizations achieve Magnet® status, shared governance models, peer review, strategic planning, clinical leadership, innovation and complex systems. She is a researcher, writer and speaker and has published two books on peer review, a shared governance toolkit and numerous peer reviewed journal articles on nursing.

Vicki has been a Chief Nurse Executive for more than 23 years and is a nationally and internationally known consultant with extensive experience on creating professional practice environments. She has a proven track record in managing wide-scale change through a robust change model and team approach.

George was CNO at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, an academic medical center located in Lebanon, New Hampshire and lead them through Magnet re-designation. As the SVP/CNO for Catholic Health Initiatives, a 68-facility health system based in Denver Colorado, she developed their first system-wide Shared Governance Structure. While the Regional VP/CNE for Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, Dr. George led the first hospital system to Magnet designation in 2001 and first five Magnet hospitals in Wisconsin.

Vicki began her long association with the Magnet® program as an appraiser and then shifted her focus to consulting with organizations to facilitate achievement of Magnet Recognition®. Vicki has assisted more than 90 organizations, both nationally and internationally, to obtain Magnet Recognition®.

Examples of Dr. George’s international work includes collaboration with Dr. Tim Porter O’Grady on nursing and whole systems on shared governance in Brazil, Dr. Kodier and the leadership exchange in Japan, and Dr. Linda Aiken on the journey to nursing excellence in Russia. In addition she has consulted on professional practice environments in Seoul, Korea; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Beirut, Lebanon; Qatar; and Singapore.


Barb Haag-Heitman, PhD, RN, FAAN, PHCNS-BC

Barb has more than 25 years of leadership experience in both acute and long-term care settings. During those years, she worked closely with clinical staff, physicians and organizational leaders to create cultures of sustainable quality outcomes and service excellence. Creating motivating professional practice environments and relationship building/team training are key components of these cultures.

Barb began her close affiliation with the Magnet® program in 2001 while working in Aurora Healthcare in Milwaukee, WI, the first healthcare system to achieve Magnet Recognition®. Barb’s experience with organizations on the Magnet® and Pathway to Excellence® journey spans more than a decade and she has helped dozens of organizations achieve their designation goals. She also works with Long Term Care facilities to help them achieve the AHCA/NCAL National Quality Awards based on the Malcolm Balridge Award criteria for quality in performance excellence.

Barb is a researcher, writer and speaker with expertise and a proven track record in application of novice to expert across all areas of nursing. Her vast experience includes whole systems peer review, whole systems shared governance, implementation of evidence-based practice, nursing research programs, and family centered care. She has authored two books, developed a shared governance tool kit, and published numerous peer-reviewed publications.

Her work is known nationally and internationally and she has worked with nurses in New Zealand, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.


Vickie Moore, MSN, RN, NEA-BC

Vickie Moore has over 35 years of acute care nursing experience, as well as 20 years of consulting experience and 13 years experience as the chief nursing officer of Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Atlanta, leading them to become one of the first Magnet® hospitals in the nation. Vickie is a published author on the topics of shared governance and organizational reengineering. Moore has guided dozens of organizations through the Magnet® designation and re-designation process.

Her consultation experience includes a variety of healthcare organizations including large academic, tertiary, specialty, community, religiously affiliated, government, and critical access hospitals. Vickie has provided consultation on performance improvement to implement structural and process changes to improve outcomes and reduce cost of providing care in acute settings. She developed the structure and guided the process to implement one of the earliest nursing case peer review programs in the country. Vickie has provided guidance on written documentation to support the Magnet application and coached physicians, executives, and staff to achieve successful on-site appraisal.

Vickie is noted for her experience as a CNO of an organization with one of the most mature models of shared decision-making, clinical advancement and professional accountability. She has the ability to skillfully guide others to create structures and processed for true shared decision-making. She has expertise in evaluating models for best cultural fit, developing bylaws, and providing support and guidance to ensure effective decision-making as the model matures.

One of her unique skills is her ability to leverage her knowledge and experience in critical care systems and processes to address the requirements for empirical outcomes for magnet designation and re-designation.

Vickie is nationally and internationally recognized for her work on shared governance, peer review, transformational leadership, innovations to bring about clinical transformation and technology integration to facilitate improvement in patient outcomes Vickie has consulted and lectured in the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) to help bring the tenets of cultural empowerment and excellence in nursing to Jamaica, British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Belize, and Trinidad and Tabago.


Fran Hicks, PhD, RN, FAAN

Fran Hicks is an experienced nurse executive with a background that includes clinical practice, teaching, academic  administration, board leadership, and experience as a healthcare consultant. Her clients include healthcare organizations, nursing associations, regulatory agencies, state governmental agencies, academic institutions, corporate boards in the public and private sectors, and individuals. Dr. Hicks is committed to facilitating organizations in the development of programs designed to achieve desired outcomes and sustainability to achieve Magnet® Pathway to Excellence® designations.  Fran has maintained an interest in working with organizations that have faced challenges and are committed to success.

Fran brings a unique perspective that incorporates her years of educational clinical practice and her strong foundation in educational principles; theoretical and conceptual drivers of professional practice, principles, standards and regulation; and practical implementation of change projects. Fran focuses on the advancement of professional nursing practice through development and evaluation of professional practice models and care delivery systems. Dr. Hicks has unique experience in program evaluation, outcomes measurement, research, grant writing, peer review, strategic planning and continued competence.

Fran has a successful  record of effective national leadership and philanthropy in a variety of organizations.  She has over a decade of affiliation with the Magnet® and Pathway to Excellence® Programs.


Kathleen M. Stolzenberger, PhD, RN

Kathleen Stolzenberger is a nationally recognized nurse leader who is widely respected for her expertise and influence in advancing professional nursing practice. Her career spans both academic and clinical appointments in progressive leadership roles. She served as President of the Connecticut League for Nursing for several years and was actively involved in forging statewide coalitions to advance nursing education.

Kathleen served as Director of Professional Practice and Magnet Project Director at Middlesex Hospital in Connecticut for over 14 years. She led the organization to its first Magnet designation in 2001 when it became the 35th Magnet facility in the country and the first Magnet hospital in Connecticut. In 2005 and again in 2008, she authored their Magnet documents that were accepted on initial submission. Kathleen guided the organization through successful site visits that earned Middlesex Hospital its second and third Magnet designations and is assisting them to prepare for a fourth designation in 2013.

Since 2006, Kathleen has consulted with over 50 hospitals to advance professional practice and strengthen the nursing work environment. She provides expert services to organizations applying for ANCC Magnet designation as well as to those invested in building the infrastructure for nursing research, peer review, and shared governance. Kathleen served as an ANCC Consultant from 2007 to 2012 before joining Nursing Consulting Partners. In that capacity, she assisted more than 30 hospitals in achieving Magnet designation and guided dozens more in preparing for the Magnet journey. Among these were freestanding specialty organizations, children’s hospitals, and acute care facilities of every size and configuration. Many clients retain her services repeatedly for interim assessments, preparation for re-designation, and guidance in addressing document deficiencies for re-designation when identified by the ANCC Commission.

Kathleen’s research interest is the practice of direct care nurses and the unit and organizational context in which it occurs. An educator at heart, she has a special talent for engaging staff nurses in understanding the real meaning and impact of the Magnet Model in everyday clinical practice. Kathleen is adept at helping organizations develop and integrate professional practice models that hold relevance and meaning for practicing nurses. In 2005, she co-authored a chapter in Leadership Competencies for Clinical Managers: The Renaissance of Transformational Leadership by Barker, Sullivan, and Emery.

Kathleen has earned a reputation as a dynamic speaker and engaging presenter. She has presented at four of the most recent ANCC Magnet Conferences, including the 2012 pre-conference ANCC Research Symposium. She is a frequent keynote speaker during leadership retreats and Nurses Week activities and is the recipient of several leadership awards.


Maricarmen Luhrsen, MSN, RN, NE-BC

Maricarmen Luhrsen has more than 15 years of nursing experience in the acute care setting and has spent the past 7 years in various leadership roles.  She successfully led the design, implementation and sustainment efforts of an organization-wide interdisciplinary shared governance structure that was recognized as an exemplar in practice by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.  She has led Torrance Memorial Medical Center in California to their initial Magnet® designation in 2011 via web-based submission as the Magnet Program Director.  Maricarmen has helped many other organizations successfully submit their documents via a web-based submission as well. She continues her work in California with Torrance Memorial as both the Magnet Program Director as well as the Director of Patient Experience.  Over the past 2 years, she has led the organization to develop strategies to improve patient experience scores significantly through the utilization of the organization-wide shared governance structure as well as clear alignment from the senior executive level to physicians to the bedside.  Maricarmen has also developed strategies to successfully engage staff and support managers in interpreting clinical quality data to identify and prioritize countermeasures that lead to organizational success.

Maricarmen specializes in Magnet® document website submission, Magnet® champion engagement, Magnet® site visit preparation, interdisciplinary shared governance, physician and staff engagement, peer review, implementation of patient/family centered care through the design and development of patient/family advisory councils and the interpretation of data to improve practice.


Colleen O’Brien Smith, MSN, RN, NEA-BC

Colleen Smith is a visionary nurse executive with a strong background in strategic planning, leadership development, and succession planning and has a solid background in all operational aspects of acute care including pat ient flow, care coordination and facility design. Colleen is a Wharton Nurse Fellow and holds certification in advanced nursing administration through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She received both her BSN and MSN from the University of Connecticut School of Nursing. In 2011 Colleen was awarded Connecticut Hospital Association’s Distinguished Service Award which recognizes individuals with extraordinary service to the healthcare field with significant contributions or achievements in governance, management or clinical services. As CNO of Middlesex Hospital in Connecticut for 16 years, Colleen led the organization to achieve its initial Magnet designation in 2001 followed by two successful redesignations in 2005 and 2010. From 2007-2012 she served ANCC as a Magnet® Program Appraiser.

Colleen’s experience includes oversight for Homecare, Hospice, and Palliative Care, and Disease Management Programs. Given her emphasis on creating a supportive workplace and an empowering culture, Colleen is keenly focused on building smart interdisciplinary teams to accomplish organizational objectives. She is a perceptive, decisive leader committed to preserving quality patient care in an era of spiraling fiscal constraint.


Kelley Kostich, MSN, RN, NE-BC

Kelley Kostich has more than 12 years of nursing experience in the acute care setting where she has served in various leadership roles.  She successfully led the design, implementation and sustainment of an innovative orientation strategy for new graduate nurses that was recognized as an exemplar by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.  As the Magnet® Program Director,  Kelley facilitated Missouri Baptist Medical Center to achieve their initial Magnet® designation via web-based submission.

Kelley is successful in building productive working relationship that support collaboration and development to achieve desirable outcomes.  She is known for developing and encouraging team to develop new ways of working to align with organizational goals. 

Kelley holds several certifications:  NE-BC, Lean Healthcare, Just Culture Champion.  She is a board member of the Young Profession Board of the St. Louis Crisis Nursery.

Kelley continues to practice at Missouri Baptist Medical Center as the Magnet Program Director and the Program Manager for Nursing Resources, Professional Practice and Development.  Kelley’s experience includes Magnet® site visit preparation, Magnet® champion engagement, and Magnet® document web-based submission.

Kelley holds a BSN (Bradley University), Master’s of Science in Healthcare and Nursing Administration (Southern Illinois University) and is currently pursuing a PhD (University of Missouri) with a research focus on leadership. 

Laurie Hartwig, MPA/HCA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC

Laurie Hartwig is Chief Nursing Officer and Magnet® Program Director at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System in Tyler, Texas. She is a member of the American Nurses Association, Texas Nurses Association, American Association of Nurse Executives, former board member of Texas Organization of Nurse Executives, and American Association of Nursing Professional Development. 

In her almost 30-year nursing career, Laurie has practiced as a clinical nurse in Pediatrics, Pediatric ICU, and Pediatric Radiology Sedation. She has Human Resources experience as a Nursing Liaison, and leadership experience as director of clinical departments and the Education Department for a large system. Laurie successfully led CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital-Tyler to their initial Magnet designation in 2017. Laurie is a published author on Cross-continuum Care Continuity: Achieving Seamless Care and Managing Comorbidities (JONA, August 2017). She is passionate about nursing practice, Professional Development of staff, improving the practice environment for nurses, and supporting nursing leaders to be transformational. 

 In 2012, Laurie received the coveted DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County and the Family Advisory Board of the national Concussion Legacy Institute (CLI) in Boston. Prior to moving to Texas in 2008, Laurie practiced at the Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI.  She is the mother of 4 adult children and 8 grandchildren.

Laurie holds the MPA/ Executive Health Care Administration (University of Texas at Tyler), BSN (University of Texas at Arlington), and the AAN (Middle Tennessee State University),  She is board certified as an Advanced Nurse Executive by the American Nurses Credential Center (ANCC).

Laura Caramanica PhD RN CENP FACHE FAAN

Dr. Laura Caramanica is an experienced nurse executive who has held successive leadership positions throughout her career serving as a chief nursing officer in GA, NY and CT.  Dr. Caramanica is a Fellow in the Academy of Nursing and a Fellow in the Academy of Health Care Executives. She is certified in nursing administration by both the American Organization of Nurse Executives and the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She holds a PhD (University of Connecticut),  MEd (Columbia University/Teacher’s College), the BSN (University of Bridgeport) and a Registered Nurse Diploma (Hartford Hospital School of Nursing).

Currently Dr. Caramanica is an Associate Professor at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia teaching in the Graduate Nursing Program.  In 2012, Dr. Caramanica served as President of the American Organization of Nurse Executives and she has served on many local and national nursing and health care associations. Laura has published in the areas of evidence-based practice; shared governance; care delivery systems; and nursing leadership. 

Ruthie Robinson, PhD, RN, CNS, FAEN, CEN, NEA-BC

Dr. Ruthie Robinson has more than 35 years of experience in acute care nursing, including nursing administration and nursing education. 

A researcher and writer, Dr. Robinson has published in peer reviewed journals and contributed to several book chapters. She has presented on a wide range of topics including Magnet® preparation, peer review, intimate partner violence, and moral distress. In addition, she has been active in several nursing organizations and has served in leadership roles on the national level.

Ruthie's leadership skills are evidenced by her accomplishments.  She was a Magnet® Program Director and led a hospital to its first designation and first re-designation.  The initial designation  occurred during a merger.  To undergird this accomplishment,  she guided the development of a shared governance structure and implemented a clinical ladder. She led her organization in the achievement of the Pathway to Excellence Designation twice and has served as a lead reviewer for the ANCC Pathway to Excellence Program®.   

Dr. Robinson's range of experience and expertise includes serving as a Chief Nursing Officer during an acquisition which gave her the opportunity to conduct research on nurse leaders and acquisitions.  She served as an interim Chief Nursing Officer as the hospital underwent six successful surveys in six months, included Joint Commission and Magnet® re-designation. She was also a Chief Nursing Officer during the opening of a new hospital.

Ruthie's expertise includes undergraduate and graduate nursing education where she oversees graduate level evidence based practice projects.  Her experience in program evaluation adds an important dimension to her role as a consultant.

Dr. Robinson holds the PhD in Nursing (Texas Woman's University ), MSN (University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston) and a BSN (Lamar University).  In addition, Ruthie holds certifications in emergency nursing and Nursing Administration advanced.  Dr. Robinson earned a Post-graduate certificate in Healthcare Ethics (Rush University).

Susan Cline, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC

Dr. Susan Cline has 30 years of nursing experience in the acute care setting.  In the past 13 years, she has served in nursing leadership roles. As Magnet®  Program Manager, she guided Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) to their initial Magnet® designation.  Susan facilitated the development of an organization-wide shared governance structure, a nursing professional practice model, was the primary writer of the Magnet document and prepared the organization for the site visit. 

As a nurse manager in CHLA’s emergency department and level 1 trauma center, she led the move to a new, expanded emergency department and directed the department to their first Lantern designation by the Emergency Nurses Association. 

As Regional Nurse Manager for Sound Physicians, Susan supervises nurse leaders in seven hospital sites across four states. She is responsible for physician performance, quality, patient experience, and nursing professional development. Additionally, she oversees the transitional care program and CMS bundled payment for care improvement project in her region. 

Dr. Cline's has expertise includes in Magnet electronic document website submission, site visit preparation, physician and staff engagement, transformational leadership, performance improvement, change management, health care redesign and alternative payment models. Her record of nurse satisfaction interventions have resulted in a significant improvement in survey outcomes. Her strong writing and editing skills are invaluable to Magnet document review.

Susan is passionate about sharing the “wisdom of the tribe”. She served as adjunct faculty and lead pediatric instructor for the ABSN program at California State University Northridge for five years, and is currently an adjunct faculty member in the graduate nursing program at Grand Canyon University. 

Susan holds the Doctor of Nursing Practice in Health Systems and Organizational Leadership (Oregon Health and Science University), dual MSN/MBA Healthcare Administration (University of Phoenix)  and a BSN (University of Southern California).

Paula Brysson Johnson

 

Dr. Johnson has approximately 20 years of nursing practice with experience in acute care and community based care settings. Her work at a federally qualified community health center provided the impetus for the development of her dissertation with a focus on models of community governance and the impact on social determinants of health. 

Dr. Johnson  served as the Magnet®  Program Director and System Director for Nursing Professional Practice at Dartmouth-Hitchcock where she successfully led them through their second Magnet©  designation. She has is well versed with all aspects of Magnet®  designation and is experienced in the  design, implementation, and evaluation of shared governance models, professional practice models and nursing advancement models.  She has assisted organizations  on their Magnet®journey through mock site reviews and document submission. Her experiences include strategic planning and building the infrastructure to support research and evidence-based practice.  Paula's collaborative leadership style led to improvements in clinical quality outcomes, nursing satisfaction scores,  specialty certification and academic advancement goals.  Her responsibilities at Dartmouth-Hitchcock included two cutting edge initiatives in nursing and health care.  She was responsible for the  development and implementation of the Vizient Nurse Residency Program and calling on her community experience, she expanded the competency program for nursing to the ambulatory care settings. 

 Paula is currently the Director of Quality, Safety and Value and the MPD for Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and is leading the organization toward its fifth Magnet®  designation.  

She serves as adjunct nursing faculty for undergraduate and graduate nursing programs in the region.

As President of her Nursing Honor Society, she led the board of directors in achieving local chapter status of Sigma Theta Tau, International Honor Society for Nursing (Psi Sigma Chapter). 

Dr. Johnson  holds the Doctor of Arts in Leadership (Franklin Pierce University), the MPA (Suffolk University), a MSN (Franklin Pierce University) and the BSN ( University of Massachusetts  Amherst).  She has Green Belt certification through the Value Institute at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Jason Bauer, MSN, RN, NEA-BC

Jason Bauer has more than 17 years of nursing experience in the acute care setting and has spent the past 11 years in various leadership roles.

Jason's leadership extends to service on his county board in Illinois where he ran three successful campaigns and served three terms of office.  He chaired the Health, Education, and Welfare Committee which oversaw the Health Department, Solid Waste, and Regional Office of Education.  Through his leadership, policies for improvement processes for the Committee were developed, passed and implemented.  In addition, he served as member of the States’ Attorney, Zoning, Executive, and County Clerk and Recorder Committees.

As a county Board member, as the Director of Professional Practice for 330-bed hospital and health system, and now as the Chief Operating Officer for Nursing Consulting Partners, Jason demonstrates a hands-on approach to leadership. In his first year with Nursing Consulting Partners, Jason has worked with individuals and organizations to create a user friendly electronic submission tool. He has developed demos to assist clients in the use of this tool.  His prior experiences with a wide range of health professionals and those outside health care have provided him with a  range of critical skills.  When clients have questions, Jason is available to 'talk them through' the process and/or go to the facility for a face-to-face consultation.

Jason works closely with clients and potential clients in achieving the relationships necessary for success. 

Mary Milan

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What They’re Saying

"Thank you for helping us on our way to Magnet® status. I know your visits to us and your advice steered us on this journey. We value your input.”