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"What's Up, Dr. Dovec?" - Meet JoAnn Ioannou, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC

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Laura Tenbus

January 20, 2021
In the series, “What’s Up, Dr. Dovec?” GBMC bariatric surgeon, Elizabeth Dovec, MD, FACS, FASMB, interviews employees across the GBMC HealthCare System so you can get to know them on a personal level and learn more about their role. In this episode, Dr. Dovec interviews JoAnn Ioannou, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, Executive Vice President of Hospital Operations and Chief Nursing Officer (CNO).

While healthcare leadership is typically male-dominated, GBMC is proud to have an executive leadership team that is primarily female. Dr. Ioannou recently became the highest-ranking woman in the organization when she was promoted to Executive Vice President of Hospital Operations in addition to her role as CNO. Dr. Dovec asked how she started her journey in leadership. In response, Dr. Ioannou recalled a story from her early career.

After one year of nursing, she was approached by her manager to apply for a leadership position that had opened up in her hospital. Dr. Ioannou said she was surprised and didn’t think she was ready, but her manager encouraged her to apply anyway. She emphasized that her leaders went out of their way to support and mentor her, which was invaluable to both her personal and professional growth. “Having people believe in you early on, even when you don’t see it yourself, is huge,” she said. Dr. Ioannou was promoted to the leadership position, and that began her path of leadership, both in and out of healthcare.

Dr. Ioannou was fortunate to have supportive managers throughout her career. Prior to joining GBMC, she completed her training and took on various leadership roles at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She spoke about how the CNO regularly promoted professional growth, even if that meant moving on to another organization. This mindset gave Dr. Ioannou the confidence to apply for her position at GBMC. When Dr. Dovec asked why she decided to pursue GBMC, she pointed to a moment in her interview when Dr. Chessare, President and CEO, said that he was looking to hire a change agent. “As soon as I heard that, I lit up,” she remembered. “Change is inevitable – nothing is constant – and the mission of GBMC matched what I wanted.”

Dr. Ioannou takes the mission – to provide medical care and service of the highest quality to each patient and to educate the next generation of clinicians, leading to health, healing and hope for the community – to heart and strives every day to ensure that GBMC embodies a culture of mentorship and learning. “Mentorship is my number one passion,” she expressed. “It’s my job to hire the right people and mentor them to be the best they can be. It’s an absolute privilege to watch people grow.” Under her leadership, the nursing residency program grew from a few graduates per year into an award-winning program with up to 100 graduates at any given time.

She also spearheaded the development of a Professional Excellence Model that creates multiple opportunities for nurses to advance. There are three tracks that nurses can choose from – educator, administrator, and performance improvement and quality – each of which involves different tasks and training opportunities. GBMC also offers tuition reimbursement and scholarships to all employees who want to further their education.

Dr. Ioannou rounded out the interview by discussing the impact COVID-19 has had on employees and how she and the rest of the leadership team are working to support GBMC staff throughout the pandemic.

To learn more about nursing at GBMC, visit
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