Six years after earning his Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership at American Sentinel University—a member of the program’s first cohort—Eddie Beard has been named President and CEO of the hospital where he has worked since 1989.
Since joining Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory, North Carolina, as associate vice president of patient services, Eddie has been groomed for leadership, first stepping into the CNO role when his mentor there retired in 1994. Over the years, he took on increasing responsibilities in addition to his CNO position, including senior vice president and chief operating officer after graduating with the DNP in 2012.
“My reason for returning to school to earn the DNP was so I could expand my knowledge,” says Eddie, who holds MSN and BSN degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Lenoir Rhyne University, respectively. When Catawba Valley Medical Center’s board began discussing a succession plan for the then-CEO, Eddie wanted to ensure he was prepared to fulfill his duties when the day came—and achieve a lifelong goal of earning a doctorate. On January 1, 2018, he took the helm as CEO.
His home away from home
Eddie has worked in hospitals since the age of 15, when he worked as a part time orderly. In 1985, he started his nursing career as a staff nurse in critical care, telemetry and the cardiac cath lab. He was launched into leadership when, during his master’s program preceptorship, he worked with Catawba Valley’s CNO, Margery Adams. She recruited Eddie to the hospital, where his upward trajectory began.
“I never in a million years thought I would become a CNO, let alone president and CEO of a hospital, but my career evolved and the opportunities presented themselves, and I was surrounded by great people who encouraged me,” Eddie says. Now beginning his 29th year at Catawba Valley, he is most looking forward to taking a strategic view of the organization that has grown to employ 1,900 people and earn Magnet status. “I’m excited to get involved in the long-term planning, keeping our community and stakeholders top of mind.”
Grateful for the DNP
Getting to where Eddie is today took dedication to his hospital, a bit of good fortune and a solid education. “The DNP curriculum boosted my professional growth at a time when I needed to expand my thinking,” Eddie says. “American Sentinel’s program helped me do that and broaden my perspective. I gained new knowledge and began thinking in more advanced ways that have allowed me to be the best possible champion for patients and our staff.”
As he gets into his new role, Eddie says his goal is to enhance Catawba Valley’s reputation. “We expect to be known as the best health system in this region,” he says. “I think I have an advantage leading us in that direction since I’ve been here for 28 years. I’ve worked in the day-to-day operations for a long time. Now, I get to help plan our bright future.”
Inspired by Eddie’s story? A DNP with a specialization in executive leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in the healthcare system. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.