Winnie Fritz – Former Hospital CEO & CNO – Building a National Nurse Education Program, Lessons from the Vietnam War, and Leadership Advice for a Fulfilling Career


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In this episode, our guest is Winnie Fritz, former hospital CEO and CNO and U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran. Fritz is an incredibly accomplished nurse and veteran with a fascinating career journey. She shares how she was invited by King Hussein of Jordan to build a nursing education program in Jordan, her experience and lessons learned from her time in Vietnam as a pilot in the U.S. Army, tactics for managing the stresses of life, and leadership advice for a fulfilling career. Fritz is a long-time consultant and friend of Shearwater’s, and we’re so excited to share her story with a broader audience.
Building a Nursing Education Program in Jordan (2:54)
During the early 1970’s and in her early twenties, Fritz worked at Walter Reed Medical Center – a military hospital in Washington D.C. She managed the Presidential Suite where she cared for some of the top government officials and world leaders. One of these leaders was His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan. Because of her exceptional care and relational skills, Hussein later invited her to build a nursing education program in Jordan where she spent the next 17 years. Fritz shares the intricacies of learning a new culture as well as how she approached building a program that would have such a huge impact.
Lessons from Vietnam as a Pilot in the U.S. Army (25:57)
Fritz begins her stories of Vietnam by sharing what led her to aviation in the first place, which started at a young age on her family’s farm in Illinois. This progressed to being cross-trained on Huey helicopters in Vietnam. As many veterans recount, the Vietnam War was likely the hardest and lowest point in their lives. Despite the difficulty, Fritz points out how war changes your perspective and the innovation of healthcare that came from practicing at the peak of one’s license in Vietnam.
Managing the Stress of Life (42:14)
Fritz gives a mental exercise that anyone can do to “cognitively reappraise” one’s priorities. She also shares the importance of incorporating activities to maintain mental, physical, and spiritual health for a balanced life and her personal practices that help her do this.
Leadership Advice for a Fulfilling Career (52:36)
It’s clear throughout her career that Fritz has been trusted in pioneering roles and recognized for her leadership. When asked about advice she would give to those younger in their career, she offered four principles.
Humans in Healthcare is produced by Shearwater Health in Nashville, TN, and hosted by Chief Marketing Officer, Nathan King.
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19 episodes