Meet Shawn O’Connor, Chief Nursing Officer, Jewish Hospital and Frazier Rehab Institute

Corner Office_DrShawnOConnorFast Facts

Hometown: Naperville, Illinois

Family: Three children, Kevin (32), Scott (22) and Stefanie (28)

Hobbies: Reading, ballroom dancing, walking

What’s one piece of advice you remember most clearly? Don’t miss out on this grand adventure. My mom was a natural optimist, warm caring woman who inspired each of us to live life with abundance even if we had minimal resources.

Were you in leadership roles when you were younger? I was fortunate to be offered interim leadership experiences which I then assumed permanently throughout my career. This led me to become a chief nursing officer in my early 30’s with toddlers at home.

How have your parents influenced your leadership style? Were there certain expressions that your parents would repeat often to you?

My parents were incredibly encouraging to all of us. They each also had an extraordinary work ethic. I can recall my dad saying, “If you work hard, everything is easier.” My mom’s was, “If you have a strong faith, everything is easier.” Faith, work and family pretty much sums it up and not in that order!

Any feedback you’ve gotten over the years about your leadership style that made you think: “Fair point. I’m going to make an adjustment?”

I had a favorite CEO earlier in my career that fostered the idea having many goals and succeeding at 75 percent of them was better than having only four goals and accomplishing all of them.  We were in a very fast paced and competitive environment and had about 100 business plans percolating at once. I thrive in that kind of mode.

What about lessons you learned from mentors?

I was blessed with mentors who were enthusiastic about my growth and loved seeing my success. I have followed suit. Nothing makes me happier than developing team members and developing strong succession plans in order for them to make a bigger impact.

I had an early nurse leader mentor whose favorite description of her job was, “I love on the nurses, so they can love on the patients.”  I realized that my job is to create an environment for nurses to thrive so that they can give the best care possible. Certainly, that is my goal at Jewish Hospital and at Frazier Rehab. Develop the best practice environment in which nurses feel valued, supported, empowered to make the greatest difference for patients. The concept of taking care of employees, who are our greatest resource, is a common thread in every leadership book I have read and it is the most important aspect to my work.