Crystal Beckford is an accomplished healthcare executive with extensive experience in health systems in Maryland and Florida. She has a proven track record in hospital, health plan, long-term care, and health insurance leadership.
In her current role as chief nursing officer (CNO) and vice president of patient care services at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center (LHDCMC), Beckford collaborates with the clinical team, medical staff, and executive team to develop nursing and clinical strategies that promote quality and operational excellence in clinical operations.
The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.
Meet Crystal Beckford, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care for Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center.
Talk about your role in nursing.
As the CNO and Vice President of Patient Care for Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center, I provide leadership to our nursing and patient care support team members. I provide coaching, direction, support, and leadership to grow current and future leaders. To be an effective CNO, one of my main objectives is to ensure clear and concise communication with team members to remain focused on our goals and outcomes. Most important, I always remind our teams why we’re here—to provide high-quality, safe patient care.
How long have you worked in the nursing field?
I have worked in the nursing field for 32 years. I started my career as a licensed practice nurse for two years and then earned my BSN, RN. To expand my knowledge in health care, I received my master’s in healthcare administration.
Why did you become a nurse?
Since I was about seven years old, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. There were many influential people in my life growing up, and three of them were nurses, whom I admired for their character and work ethic.
What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders?
Flexibility, balance, resilience, humor, humility, passion, and understanding.
What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?
Inspiring and influencing others to achieve their greatest potential is truly an honor.
Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.
My first year of nursing was in the medical surgical unit. While at Catholic University, the nuns told us we must complete at least one year of Med/Surg. I quickly learned it wasn’t for me. Critical care was my life’s calling. I was captivated by the equipment, the technology, and the nurses’ knowledge. I practiced in just about every space in critical care, including the intensive care unit, cardiac care unit, open heart surgery, emergency department, and respiratory care unit. I quickly developed strong acumen, knowledge, and skills in critical care. My colleagues saw my potential as a great leader and encouraged me to apply for a managerial role. Once I landed the position, I kept pushing myself to grow in leadership roles because of my passion for the business and the clinical side of healthcare.
I chose Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center to make a difference in my home community. Healthcare equity is a major passion and concern of mine. The hospital has embarked on a $300 million campaign to renovate and expand the nearly 50-year-old campus, including building a women’s health center for inpatient obstetrics services, labor and delivery, and postpartum care. Right now, eight out of ten women have to deliver their baby outside of Prince George’s County, and the area’s maternal mortality rate for Black women is 50 percent higher than the national average. As a nursing leader, my mission is to collectively address health inequities, improve health outcomes, and make meaningful changes within our organization and the community.
What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?
The most significant challenge facing nursing today is getting more young people interested in this career. In my role at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center, I’ve made it my mission to speak, teach, coach, and mentor at area nursing schools, historically black colleges and universities, community colleges, and high schools. We offer internship opportunities for students that may lead to future employment. Since approximately 70 percent of our employees (including myself) live within Prince George’s County, we are focused on growing and maintaining our own diverse workforce. One of the reasons I enjoy working here is I’ve felt welcomed the moment I walked through these doors. It has a small southern town feel in a larger community, even though we’re outside Washington, D.C.
As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?
See above. My greatest support is not my words but my actions. I fully support a work-life balance by encouraging my team to take paid time off and offering various types of shifts that fit any lifestyle.
What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?
My former CNO has been my mentor and a source of inspiration for more than 20 years. She is now a COO for a start-up corporation but remains inspirational by being herself. She is smart, wise, humble, and demonstrates humility. She has always been a wonderful person and leader.
What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?
Nothing worth doing is easy. Don’t make five minutes of a bad situation your narrative for the day or your entire career. Instead, focus on the positive and good experiences we have as healthcare workers.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Nursing will always give you more than what you bargained for. Regardless of my title, I am and always will be a nurse.