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Posted: 5/3/2011

When recent Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) graduate JoAnn Z. Ioannou applied for the School's Executive Mentorship Program, which matches DNP students with top-level executives, to expand her skills in negotiation she explained, "I was interested in learning to be a more effective negotiator." Her job is a high-stress, high-responsibility position, and she finds herself negotiating with other nurses, physicians, patients, and hospital leaders each and every day. Through the mentorship program, she was paired with famed Baltimore sports agent and attorney Ron Shapiro. Shapiro is also Co-Founder and Chairman of Shapiro Negotiations Institute and the New York Times best-selling author of The Power of Nice; Bullies, Tyrants & Impossible People; and Dare to Prepare.

When they were first matched, Ioannou, who is Assistant Director of Nursing in the Department of Medical Nursing at Johns Hopkins Hospital, barraged Shapiro with questions, some of which were quite personal. "JoAnn has no fear.  She'll ask whatever she needs to ask to reach her objective," Shapiro said. And Ioannou's objective was to make sure her mentor would be a good match for her.  "It worked perfectly," said Shapiro, because he has "no fear of being vulnerable and answering personal questions about my life."  The two hit it off immediately.

Ioannou jumped in with both feet, attending Shapiro's seminars, shadowing him at work, and listening in on his phone calls. "I wanted her to see everything, and then ask questions," Shapiro said. His clients are used to seeing him with mentees and interns, so Ioannou was able to observe all kinds of interactions with clients.

Ioannou says the most valuable lesson she learned from the time she spent with Shapiro was the importance of listening to the needs of others. "It's difficult for me to go into a negotiation without an agenda.  But I need to listen to everything that's on the table and think 'What's the most important thing to the other person?'" Shapiro also taught Ioannou to do her homework and be methodically prepared before she walks in a room.

For example, new Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education rules only allow interns and residents to work 16-hour shifts.  The change would leave the hospital short-staffed, so Ioannou and her team were faced with the challenge of coming up with a quick solution.  Ioannou's primary responsibilities are to ensure smooth hospital operations, financial responsibility, and continuity of care, but she's also working with physicians who need to preserve the hospital's academic mission. To come up with a solution that meets everybodys needs, Ioannou used the skills she learned from Shapiro.

"I asked myself, 'What can we provide, and what are our best options?' I learned it's important to work collaboratively to come up with a solution," Ioannou noted.
By working with other administrators, Ioannou was able to identify nurses, like ACNPs, to help with coverage issues at the hospital.

Shapiro has nothing but praise for Ioannou's professionalism and the success of the mentorship program.  "JoAnn is a wonderful, caring person.  We became great friends and I even went to her DNP graduation party.  We had a great year together," Shapiro said.
Now that the mentorship is over, Ioannou still goes to Shapiro on occasion.  "He's a friend for life."

To navigate the increasingly complex world of healthcare management, nurse leaders require not only a top-notch nursing education but the business and management skills essential for success as well.  Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing rose to the challenge when Professor Maryann Fralic, DrPH, RN, created and funded the Executive Mentorship Program in 2008. The one-year mentoring experience pairs DNP students with top executives from fields like business, finance, media, science, and technology. Each year, one to three students are chosen, and can each receive up to $5,000 to support the cost of expenses like travel, books, and conference attendance.