Karen Bankston, PhD, MSN, FACHE, didn’t have management in her career sights when she started as a fledgling emergency room nurse in 1976 at then-Southside Hospital in Youngtown, Ohio. She wasn’t thinking much beyond giving the best care possible to patients with traumatic injuries and acute health issues.

Yet Bankston’s chief nursing officer, Ruth Eldridge, MSN, RN, had a different idea. She saw enough leadership potential in her young nurse to offer herself as a mentor. Bankston admits that she didn’t even know what the term meant back then. But with Eldridge’s counseling persistence, her career took a rewarding trajectory, eventually leading to her present position as associate dean for clinical practice, partnership, and community engagement at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Nursing.

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