Leading with Heart: Nurse Background Benefits COO
May 6, 2021
Angeline Sheets

Nurses understand what it takes to give safe, quality care that is service-oriented. That is why nurses bring a wealth of clinical understanding to the chief executives.

Hamila Kownacki, R.N., MSHA and chief operating officer at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco, knows that first-hand. She started her career as a registered nurse with a specialty in oncology and intensive care. As she became more comfortable with her clinical skills, she was driven to learn more about the business side of medicine.

And that she did. Since Kownacki made that decision to pursue leadership roles, Sutter Health has provided her many incredible opportunities in her 20 years working for the not-for-profit organization.

Kownacki recently spoke with Scott Becker, editor of Becker’s Healthcare. During the podcast interview, Becker pointed out that many great leaders of today started their careers in nursing. Kownacki agreed.

“We know what it feels like to serve and be at the beside, ” Kownacki said. “…Patient care is at the core of what we do.”

Kownacki went on to say that her “greatest joy is learning through my different roles.” In her role as COO, she admits every day is new and exciting and even likens the experience to riding the whitewater rapids.

“One moment it’s calm and serene, and you turn the corner and you’re faced with the rapids,” she said. “This is what makes it exciting to be problem-solving.”

Problem-solving, especially during a pandemic, helped the leaders and care teams at Sutter build on their resilience. Kowancki says this year she is most excited about “building on what we learned. (With) the knowledge we gained in 2020, we are a stronger more unified team than ever before.”

Click to listen to the full podcast 

Get to know more about Hamila Kownacki.

CPMC COO Hamila Kownacki


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