Karna Kruckenberg Schofer likes challenges and likes to be in a position to influence staff in the health care field to provide better patient outcomes.
Schofer, PhD, MS(N), M Ed, RN, is Banner Health System’s Western Regional Director for Professional Development in Greeley, Colo. She oversees professional education and development for nearly 5,600 staff, including about 2,000 nurses, in 12 facilities across seven western U.S. states. The facilities run the gamut from small, rural, critical-access hospitals to large urban hospitals with more than 500 beds.
“Part of the reason I took the job was the opportunity to work with diverse facilities,” said Schofer. “We have a variation in culture, service, patient mix and staff expertise, and it’s exciting because the standard for quality care and excellent outcomes is the same — it’s just that our mode of delivering education varies.”
Schofer teaches leadership, collaboration and conflict resolution skills and oversees the professional education initiatives for nurses and clinicians. Her department has implemented the latest interactive computer-based modalities and simulation technology to deliver training to personnel as far away as Fairbanks, Alaska.
“Banner sets a very high standard for patient care and my team designs and delivers the curricula necessary to help employees achieve that expectation,” she said.
Schofer began her nursing career at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in 1970 after earning her BSN from Northeast Missouri State University, now Truman State University. She quickly was promoted to charge nurse and relief supervisor, then rose through the ranks to assistant division director of nursing at University Hospital and Rusk Rehabilitation Center while earning two master’s degrees in special education and nursing, and a PhD in education and administration from MU.
While working as a clinical nurse specialist and coordinator of patient education at University Hospital, Schofer created community-wide patient education programs that included care coordination plans for children with disabilities and their families. To honor her work, Schofer’s staff established the Karna K. Kruckenberg Award for Excellence when her career and family took her from Missouri to Colorado in 1989. The annual award is given to MU Health Care employees, who are nominated by their peers, to recognize their efforts to educate patients about their health.
“She had always strived to move the pediatric nursing profession forward by challenging the advanced practice nurses to see how we could provide better patient education and care with limited resources,” wrote Debra Gayer, associate teaching professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing.
Schofer also participated in streamlining operations at University Hospital, which saved several million dollars and increased revenue. She took her administrative skills to Poudre Valley Hospital in Ft. Collins, CO as Associate Administrator / CNO and within two years was named Colorado Nurse Administrator of the Year. The next year she was named the Hospital’s CEO and led that organization to designation as one of the Nation’s Top 100 Hospitals. She also led the restructure of that public hospital to a 501(c)3 corp, i.e., Poudre Valley Health System, Inc. Schofer also taught nursing students at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and became a certified career coach, specializing in coaching health care employees. She was the CEO of Estes Park (CO) Medical Center prior to joining Banner.
“A part of most executive and administrative work involves coaching,” said Schofer. “It’s about helping people discover their own answers and getting them to look a little beyond and reach a little higher. I like being in a position where I can influence the professional practice of nurses so that they can make a strong contribution to excellent patient outcomes.”