Linda Allen remembers when nurses used to mix the IV fluids for their patients and the days when one nurse oftentimes oversaw the care of as many as 40 patients on a hospital floor.
Much about health care has changed in the 29 years since Allen came to work at Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield. What hasn’t changed, however, is her passion for acute-care nursing.
“I love assisting patients and their families and seeing the many positive outcomes,” she said. “There’s no greater reward than having them thank you for helping them through a difficult time.”
In September, Allen was promoted to chief nursing officer for Johnston Health, which has hospitals in Clayton and Smithfield. In addition to her new duties of overseeing nursing policies and practices for the system, she will continue as an administrative director for inpatient services.
For the past six years, Ruth Marler and Jackie Ring have served dual roles as chief operating and nursing officers at Johnston Medical Centers in Smithfield and Clayton, respectively.
In announcing the change, Chief Executive Chuck Elliott said separating the chief nursing and operations roles had become necessary because of the hospital system’s growth and complexity. “Both are vital to our continued success in operations and clinical care delivery and must always receive full attention,” he said.
Allen, who grew up near Four Oaks, has spent most of her career at Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield. She has been an employee since 1984.
After getting her associate’s degree in 1982 from Johnston Community College, she worked full time as an registered nurse at Betsy Johnson Hospital while pursuing her bachelor’s degree from what was then Atlantic Christian College in Wilson. She graduated in 1989.
Allen also has a master’s degree in nursing administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Her first management job came in 1992 when she was promoted from staff nurse to head nurse on Two East. In 1997, she acquired Two West and became nurse manager.
Allen says she’s been fortunate through the years to have had great mentors. “All have had different styles of leadership, and I’ve learned so much from all of them,” she said.
In her new role, Allen says her first goal will be to make rounds in the different nursing areas and to assess practices throughout the hospital system. “I’m excited about working with both campuses and, in particular, assisting with the inpatient expansion in Clayton,” she said.
In looking ahead, she thinks the affiliation with UNC Health Care will bring resources that will be helpful to nurses. And she looks forward to working with the nurse councils as those groups consider new ideas and processes.
“We want to make sure we’re learning from one another, which will improve processes throughout the organization,” she said.