Dr. Claire Zangerle – Chief Nursing Executive – Visionary Leadership, Nurse Retention, Adapting to COVID-19, and Hospital Diversity


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In this episode, we’re joined by Dr. Claire Zangerle, Chief Nursing Executive of Allegheny Health Network. Our discussion includes empathetic and visionary leadership, how AHN sees the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the future, better home care for patients, self-care in a stressful profession, the impact of an ongoing nursing shortage, AHN’s creative RetuRN to Practice™ program, and the need for diversity in nursing.

Defining and Cultivating Empathy as a Nurse and Leader (2:13)

One of the core functions of a nurse is taking care of people in their most vulnerable states and doing that well requires empathy. Claire talks about ways to build the “empathy muscle,” so you don’t disconnect yourself from the patient.

What It Takes to be a Visionary Leader (8:56)

Many people (especially in leadership) desire the ability to cast vision, but it’s often seen as aspirational, not practical. Claire summarizes this dichotomy well by talking about the balance in having a vision and an actionable plan.

Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic as a Health System (17:23)

Like many hospitals and health systems, AHN pivoted the way they care for patients and their own employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The support of the communities and even hospital competitors resulted in constant access to PPE, meal donations, care packages, flexible work schedules, and dedicated “zen” or decompression rooms.

Restoration When Life Demands Energy and Creativity (29:34)

It is difficult to imagine restoration for a Chief Nursing Executive in the midst of a pandemic and leading so many different initiatives, but Claire insists on finding ways to decompress. Outdoor yoga classes have been helpful for her as well as listening to and reading books. She’s currently reading Grit by Angela Duckworth for the second time, and she discusses the vital role it has played in helping her navigate the pandemic with her team.

The Nursing Shortage is Real (34:16)

There is a lot of research to show that the U.S. faces a significant nursing shortage made more apparent during the pandemic despite some hospitals furloughing nurses. Claire points out that there is also research to suggest it may not be a true nursing shortage, and she discusses her response to this.

Investing in Nursing Diversity (42:30)

As the issue of systemic racism has been on the forefront of minds in 2020, Claire discussed initiatives AHN has taken to invest in nursing diversity.



Humans in Healthcare is produced by Shearwater Health in Nashville, TN, and hosted by Chief Marketing Officer, Nathan King.

Humans in Healthcare Website includes more detailed show notes and other helpful podcast information.

Shearwater Health Website






19 episodes