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Donna Richardson: Leading the Way in Patient-Centered Care

Donna Richardson
Donna Richardson

Compassion in Action 

Compassion is an essential component of nursing care that ensures patients receive the best possible care and support during their health journey. For Donna Richardson, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Executive and Executive Vice President at Parkland Health, compassion has been a guiding principle in her career as a nurse. Donna’s interest in a career that focuses on giving back to others led her to pursue nursing as a profession, and her dedication to patient-centered care has been at the forefront of her success.

In her role at Parkland Health, Donna oversees and leads all nursing practice, ensuring that the nursing staff has the necessary resources, tools, and autonomy to provide the highest level of nursing care to patients. Her commitment to creating a culture that values the hospital’s staff and supports their growth and development has been a guiding principle throughout her career.

Donna’s leadership has been critical in advancing the nursing profession’s goals, such as promoting evidence-based practice, patient-centered care, and interprofessional collaboration. She has also played a key role in ensuring that the nursing staff at Parkland Health is well-equipped to provide high-quality care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donna Richardson’s impact on the nursing profession is evident in her dedication, leadership and commitment to advancing nursing practice. She is a role model to many nurses and an inspiration to those who aspire to make a difference in healthcare. It is this dedication and passion for nursing that have been a driving force behind her success in the industry.

Let’s dive in to learn about Donna’s contribution to the field of nursing that makes her worthy of the title “Most Empowering Chief Nursing Officers Making an Impact in 2023.”

Journey So Far

Donna’s journey as a nurse began as a staff nurse in Labor and Delivery. She gradually came up through the ranks to a Chief Nursing Officer position at another organization. She obtained her Doctorate in Nursing Practice and started looking for opportunities that aligned her personal mission with the mission of a healthcare organization in serving the underserved community. This led her to Parkland Health. “I have enjoyed the journey for nursing at Parkland and have seen the passion and quality excel as the nursing practice voice has grown,” she adds.

Values and Mission

The mission of Parkland is to advance wellness, relieve suffering, develop and educate. Parkland serves as our community’s public health system and our vision and passion is advancing healthcare for the people we serve. The Nursing Vision is the following:

  • We are as diverse and unique as the patients we serve.
  • We promote wellness, healing and alleviation of suffering through compassionate care.
  • We lead our profession by fostering a positive practice environment and transforming care through collaborative relationships, education, research and evidence-based practice.
  • We create a lasting impact and take pride in achieving exemplary nursing outcomes.

Donna’s Key Role at Parkland Health

Donna’s role as the Chief Nursing Executive and Executive Vice
President at Parkland Health involves being responsible for overseeing and leading all nursing practice.

“I represent over 4000 nursing voices, which include LVNs, RNs and APRNs. It is my job to ensure that the nursing staff has the resources, tools and autonomy to provide the highest level of nursing care to our patients. Creating a culture in which our staff feel valued, supported, and have opportunities to grow and give back to the nursing profession, has been a guiding principle for nursing,” she emphasizes.

Leveraging Technological Advances

“COVID-19 helped expedite some of our technology advancements over the past few years,” Donna said. “We have made significant progress in the virtual care space, increasing tele-visits for our patients and staff, and have included our direct care nurses in various other technology enhancements.”

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, when visitors were not allowed on campus, a group of inter-professional team members created a virtual support group for our patients to interact virtually with other patients and trained personnel to offer support and counseling services.”

She continues, “The visitor restrictions led to the improvement of the inpatient “footwall” experience, enabling patients, and loved ones to visit with one another through the tv in the patient rooms. As these virtual care and technology advances continue to grow with telehealth, this increases patients’ access to healthcare through virtual means and reduces their travel time for appointments.”

Compassion as the Key to Care

Parkland’s ICARE core values guide nurses’ behaviors and interactions with each other, and how they serve the community. Compassion is one of Parkland’s core values:

  • I: Integrity
  • C: Compassion and Collaboration
  • A: Accountability
  • R: Respect
  • E: Equity

Donna says, “As you walk the halls of Parkland, you will see compassion in every interaction with patients and our staff. Our patients come from a variety of backgrounds, cultures and socioeconomic settings seeking care with limited or no funding, and our staff pride themselves in taking care of our patients as if they were our family members. We have many internal recognition programs and platforms where staff can recognize one another for going above and beyond, living out our mission, vision and values.”

Overcoming Challenges

Donna highlights that one of the biggest challenges after the pandemic has been staffing. “During the pandemic, we saw many nurses leave traditional nursing roles, which has created staffing challenges. We have worked diligently to assure our nursing staff are recognized, appreciated, and have a voice in their nursing practice. Attention on both recruitment and retention has been a continued focus and priority,” she adds.

“The other greatest challenge has been the increase in workplace violence. There has been a great deal of work done in this area to support and protect our staff, but it continues to be an area that will be a focus for the immediate future.”

Words of Wisdom

To the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who desire to venture into the nursing field, Donna advises, “Nursing is an amazing career with so many possibilities for the future. The nursing profession has long been recognized as the most trusted and ethical profession by the Gallup poll for 21 consecutive years. It is both a rewarding, inspiring and challenging career. Every day is different, and at the end of the day, you know you impacted someone and made a difference in their life.”

Scaling Services in 2024 and Beyond

Nursing services will continue to support the growth of Parkland in the health care system and community. Donna’s role will be aligned with the strategic plan for Parkland over the next few years, focusing on:

  • Health Equity-decreasing health disparities
  • Quality and Patient Safety-working toward zero harm
  • Staff and Provider Engagement-making Parkland a place where people thrive and succeed
  • Teaching, Research and Innovation
  • Integrated Healthcare Model-providing the right care for patients, that is centered on their needs
  • Digital Health Solutions-Advance access through digital health technologies
  • Taxpayer investment addresses the cost of care while improving outcomes.

Recognition and Achievements

  • 2008 DFW Great 100 Nurses Recipient
  • 2015 GEM Nursing Regional Winner for Advancing and Leading the Profession
  • 2018 D Magazine Nursing Excellence Award
  • Active member of the Texas Organization of Nurse Executives, the American Nurses Association, and the Texas Nurses Association (TNA).
  • Chair of TNA Nursing Practice Committee (2012-2016)
  • Nursing Representative on Governmental Affairs Committee for TNA
  • TNA representative for Texas Board of Nursing – Nursing Practice Advisory Committee
  • National Scholars Honor Society
  • ANCC Nurse Executive Advanced – Board Certification (NEA-BC)

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