Alumna is UMMC chief nursing executive

Photo of Kristina Cherry
Photo courtesy of Tennova Health Cleveland

By Hunter Carter

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing alumna Kristina Cherry PhD, RN, FNP-BC, NEA-BC (PhD 2001), has been named chief nursing executive at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC).

Cherry will oversee more than 3,000 nurses, representing about half of all hospital staff positions. In addition to her responsibilities within the health system, she wants to make a positive impact on the health of all Mississippians.

"Part of the mission and vision of UMMC is looking at the population health of not just Jackson, but the state of Mississippi as a whole," Cherry said. "The focus on our patients, quality and great outcomes will always be primary, but we also strategically focus on our workforce. Going forward—not just in a pandemic —we are looking to do some workforce planning to ensure that we support staff wellness, and a healthy work environment for our nurses and staff."

A big component to providing great patient care in Cherry's eyes is to enhance the workplace environment where staff feel they make an impact and work in the full scope of practice.

"We also need to look at not only are we providing culturally competent care, but that we are bringing diversity into the workforce by underrepresented groups, including men," Cherry said. "We are lucky in that we have the academic side of UMMC to partner with to facilitate future medical professionals, but with that being said we also have to look at recruiting individuals into health care earlier than what we are doing currently."

Prior to her new role, Cherry served as chief nursing officer at Tennova Healthcare Cleveland, a two-campus facility in Cleveland, Tennessee.

"Being a part of Tennova was a great opportunity for me to be involved in behavioral health in a nursing capacity and it was a great steppingstone for the role I have now," Cherry said.

For Cherry, the transition from being a nurse and saving lives on a day-to-day basis to becoming a nursing executive came from when one of her mentors told her she could make a huge difference in leadership.

"Jackie Martinek, who is the associate chief nursing officer at UAB Medicine and one of my mentors, pulled me to the side one day and advocated for me to pursue being a chief nursing officer," Cherry said. "Having someone you look up to tell you that you have the potential to make a big impact and serve as the voice for other nurses makes you feel empowered to move forward and prove them right."

Cherry fondly remembers her time at the UAB School of Nursing while earning her post-graduate family nurse practitioner certificate and PhD. She credits her dissertation committee for their mentorship and guidance throughout her doctoral program that has ultimately shaped her career.

Last modified on January 28, 2022

Upcoming Events