Alumna, trustee to address School of Nursing

An alumna and member of the University’s Board of Trustees will speak about nursing’s role in the global health care system when she addresses the School of Nursing at its May 19 graduation ceremony.

Ellen Zane, the first female chief executive officer of Tufts Medical Center, said she will encourage graduates to navigate through the field’s rewards and hardships.

“[Nursing] requires a strong sense of responsibility as we hold the most sensitive aspects of peoples’ lives in our hands and we contribute to the overall efficiency of the health care system,” Zane said.

Zane, who earned a bachelor of arts from GW in 1973, will speak to the nursing school’s second-ever graduating class. The 15-month program was established in 2010 on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus.

She said she also wants nursing students to understand their role in demanding a more responsible health care system.

“In this day and age, when the cost of [health care] is undergoing great scrutiny, nurses must be cognizant of their impact, both clinically and financially, and they must be at the forefront of positively impacting the [health care] system or some other enterprise will do it for them,” Zane said.

Zane retired in 2011 from her post as CEO of Tufts Medical Center, which she held for seven years, helping the medical center recover from mounting financial losses. She said her path to the top leadership role at the hospital was unlikely because she does not hold a business or medical degree.

Zane added that she would encourage nursing students to similarly “step out of the traditional mold and follow their instincts and hearts.”

“Not doing so can lead to a good, strong career – but [it] will not lead to a hugely satisfying and ground breaking one,” Zane said.

She was appointed to the University’s Board of Trustees in 2010. She is also an adjunct assistant professor in health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Jean Johnson, the nursing school’s dean, said Zane was tapped to address the graduating class because she is “a transformational leader in health care and an excellent speaker.”

“She is a great role model for our students. She will motivate our graduates to think big and take on the major challenges facing us in the health system,” Johnson said.

Geraldine Bednash, chief executive officer and executive director of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, spoke at last year’s graduation ceremony.

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