Recognizing a remarkable 50-year career of patient advocacy, innovative administration, problem solving, mentorship, and as an authoritative presence on nursing’s global landscape, the American Academy of Nursing has named Charlestown resident Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, DNP, NEA-BC, FAAN, a “Living Legend” – the highest honor from the world’s most prestigious nursing association.
“The contributions of Dr. Jeanette Ives Erickson to nursing practice, patient care, population health, and pandemic leadership are legendary because of her significant reach,” said Kenneth R. White, President of the American Academy of Nursing and Dean of the School of Nursing at MGH Institute of Health Professions. “She leads with inspired vision to elevate standards of nursing practice, patient care, and organizational effectiveness.”
In naming Ives Erickson, who is currently the Chair of the Board of Trustees at the MGH Institute, interim President & CEO at Nantucket (MA) Cottage Hospital, and Chief Nurse Emerita at the Massachusetts General Hospital, the Academy cited Ives Erickson’s ability career improving health outcomes, mentoring nurse leaders, and advocating for patients.
“To be nominated by the nurse leaders that I have incredible respect for is something special,” said Ives Erickson. “I’ve been on a career journey with many of them so to have them think I’m worthy of this recognition means a lot to me.”
Ives Erickson’s career is distinguished and unparalleled. Starting as a registered nurse, she rose to became Senior Vice President of Patient Care and Chief Nurse at Mass General for 21 years, then helped shape research, policies, and diversity initiatives, consulted hospitals around the world, and led crisis responses in the U.S. and abroad.
One of Ives Erickson’s most notable accomplishments was the design and implementation of the Professional Practice Model that transformed the environment of care and provided the foundation for Mass General to become the state’s first hospital to receive Magnet Designation – a prestigious mark of excellence – from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Currently only 570 hospitals worldwide have received this designation. Through 87-peer reviewed articles, three books, and consulting, Ives Erickson shared globally the model that reshaped the nursing practice. Today, she is the commission chair who oversees the Magnet Recognition Program.
“It’s a privilege to review exemplary nursing practices of health care organizations across the globe,” said Ives Erickson, who earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the MGH Institute. “And it’s been gratifying to see so many hospitals influenced by the Professional Practice Model we created at Mass General. The model has improved how nurses practice and that’s translated into improved patient care.”
So much of the healthcare profession has been influenced by Ives Erickson – regionally, nationally, and globally.
During her more than two decades at Mass General Hospital, Ives Erickson drove change that led to effective models of patient care, nursing care, and interdisciplinary teamwork. While Chief Nurse, she led the system’s 10 chief nursing officers in developing programs to advance the professional environment of care, training programs for support staff, and advancing the role of nurse leaders on boards.
Ives Erickson also influenced research and philanthropy at MGH. She led the creation of and obtained funding for the Yvonne L. Munn Center for Nursing Research at MGH, building capacity for evidence-based practice among the nursing workforce and creating a research-intensive organization. On the philanthropy side, Ives Erickson utilized strategic relationship building and negotiating to change the MGH model of philanthropy – to include support for nurse leaders and innovators. Additionally, she raised $29 million that created endowed chairs, provided seed funding for novice nurse researchers, and supported diversity initiatives.
Ives Erickson has been a transformative leader during times of crisis, participating in the hospital’s response after the 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire and 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and doing the same after Indonesia’s tsunami in 2004 and Haiti’s earthquake in 2010. Her disaster response also helped countries including Bermuda, China, Dubai, Great Britain, and Japan establish disaster response programs, care facilities, and processes.
Ives Erickson has consulted with healthcare colleagues and facilities around the world. She was the Senior Nurse Consultant with the Jiahui International Hospital in Shanghai China on their design and training and was recently appointed Vice Chair of the National Health Service in England, aimed at advancing innovation in nursing.
Ives Erickson was named Nurse Emerita at MGH in 2017 but didn’t stay retired very long; she became special consultant at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital and the following year, interim CEO. Today she is the hospital’s interim president and CEO, a position she took on this past March.
“Jeanette’s compassion, caring attitude, self-sacrifice and focus on providing quality care for everyone is exemplary,” said Craig Muhlhauser, Board Chair of Nantucket Cottage Hospital. “The impact and legacy she has on this island and with the hospital and community will be everlasting.”
Having established an impressive track record of leadership, Ives Erickson was asked by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Mass General Brigham’s CEO, Dr Ann Klibanski, to serve as co-medical leader and operations chief for Boston Hope, the field hospital created a month after the coronavirus pandemic began that freed up beds for sicker patients at Boston’s hospitals while providing shelter and care for homeless individuals who were sick with COVID. In just 10 days, Boston Hope was operational inside the Boston Convention Center; in just under two months, Boston Hope treated nearly 1,000 patients.
When another COVID call came in 2021, Ives Erickson didn’t hesitate; this time she was asked to be a leader for Mass General Brigham’s system-wide effort to vaccinate patients. Under her leadership, 100,000 patients received vaccinations.
“My mother always would say to me, ‘Don’t ever forget where you came from – humble beginnings, hard-working, immigrants to this country – and that if you don’t forget, you will always give back,’” said Ives Erickson on her willingness to step in regardless of how big or complicated a problem is. “You will always want to do something to help other people. So, I’m not sure I’m done.”
Present colleagues are grateful to hear that. Mass General President Dr. David F. M. Brown calls his 30 years of working with Ives Erickson “a privilege” and says no one is more deserving of this honor.
“Jeanette truly is the definition of the very best in health care – a compassionate caregiver, a tireless advocate for education, a strong and steady leader,” said Brown. “During two of the most challenging and unprecedented times for our hospital in recent years, Jeanette was the calm among the storms, and we were so fortunate to have her expertise and guidance during these disasters.”
True to her humble nature, Ives Erickson says the AAN’s Living Legend award isn’t about her, but rather, is reflective of the work of Mass General Brigham, New England’s largest health provider.
“The work we’re doing in our system is being recognized,” she said. “For the 82,000 people who get up every day and want to do good – advancing our mission – this award is for them.”