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Riley Hospital For Children's Chief Nursing Officer: What You Need to Know About Nursing Today

Blog Riley Hospital For Children's Chief Nursing Officer: What You Need to Know About Nursing Today

What does the top nurse at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health like to see in her nurses?

Passion, above all, says Elizabeth Paxton, Riley’s chief nursing officer.

“I’d rather hire a candidate who is passionate about their work over any other characteristic – passionate about their career and care for children.”

Paxton, a longtime RN in Indiana, Alabama and California, oversees 1,200 nurses at Riley, plus another 300 who care for children at IU Health Methodist and North hospitals.

Most work three 12-hour shifts a week, performing a wide range of nursing tasks at Indiana’s only dedicated and comprehensive hospital for children. Within about two years, Riley also will become the busiest birthing center in Indianapolis when Methodist’s maternity  services are relocated there.

Riley is a preferred workplace among nurses. “Our open spots go pretty quickly,” Paxton says. For 20 nurse openings advertised in mid-May, she expects her staff would need only about three weeks to fill them.

Small wonder many Riley nurses commute hours to their jobs. (Some even make the commute from other states, including Tennessee.)

Under Paxton, Riley runs a student nurse internship for about 50 prospective nurses who are accepted into the program as early as their freshman year of college. They perform patient care assistant and secretarial tasks, among other work. Riley also has a robust teaching program for student nurses.

Paxton’s advice to nursing students: “The soonest you can get into a hospital as a student the better. You’re more exposed to healthcare and the patient and are better prepared when you graduate.”

To help ensure new hires are a good fit at Riley, applicants are encouraged to shadow nurses on the job and interview with three to five potential peers during the hiring process.

Riley is a teaching hospital, so besides passion, Paxton puts a high value on flexibility, a willingness to teach and a thirst for knowledge.

The biggest hiring periods at Riley tend to be in July and February, after spring and winter graduations release new nurses into the market.

Nursing pay at Riley is similar to other large area hospitals, averaging around $46,000 for a 40-hour workweek for new hires to over $80,000 for experienced nurses.

The on-the-job opportunities are many, ranging from basic bedside work to research and supervisory positions. Right up to the job done by Paxton, who wears a red RN tag on her name badge.

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