Lifetime Care Giver Set to Retire

April 29, 2019

Dr. Karen Profitt Newman to Leave Role as VP CNO at Baptist Health

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY (April 18, 2019) –  One of Louisville’s foremost healthcare professionals and advocates for patient care, Karen Profitt Newman, EdD, MSN, RN, NEA-BC is retiring, effective June 30. For more than 40 years, Dr. Newman has dedicated her time and passion to the care of others. As Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer for Baptist Health Louisville (a full-service 519 bed licensed hospital and flagship of the Baptist Healthcare System), she has been an integral part of the hospital’s growth including overseeing a $4 million Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) expansion in 2016-2019, a $20 million Emergency Department expansion and renovation in 2016-2018, development of a $668,000 Retail Pharmacy and Medication Management Clinic in 2017-2018, and development of a $10 million Cancer Center in 2011-2014.

“Karen is a consummate professional, a fierce advocate for both patients and caregivers, a mentor and teacher of professional practice, and a caring colleague,” said Larry Gray, president of Baptist Health Louisville. “It’s been my privilege to work alongside her for the past 9 months and many years as colleagues in the Baptist Health system. She has provided great leadership and we thank her for her years of dedicated service at Baptist Health Louisville."

According to Newman, one of her crowning achievements was receiving Magnet designation for excellence in nursing which is awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and is the most rigorous and prestigious international recognition for excellence in nursing practice. Baptist Hospital received its initial designation in 2008 and was re-designated in 2014 and again in 2019 making Baptist Health Louisville one of only 490 hospitals worldwide and one of 7 in Kentucky to receive this honor. 

“Working with the entire team at Baptist Health Louisville on the initial Magnet journey was an incredible experience. Although the award is for excellence in nursing, it’s really the whole team – nurses, physicians, pharmacists, physical therapists – working collaboratively to create the best care environment for our patients who earn this recognition,” said Newman.

The Road to Nursing  
Newman says her mother was a tremendous influence on her and instilled in her a passion for caregiving. Newman would accompany her mother every Sunday as she made visits to elderly members of her Bible study group who were sick or hospitalized. It was her mother’s compassion and seeing how she cared for this often-neglected group of people that planted the seed that would, years later, grow into her desire to become a nurse. 

Although nursing wasn’t her childhood dream or career aspiration as a young college student, she knew she wanted to do something in the sciences. As a student at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana she began working the second shift in the medical lab at the Community Hospital of Anderson. Following a move to Lexington, she worked as a phlebotomist and EKG technician at Good Samaritan Hospital. 

Although she had worked in healthcare for several years, she says she never considered becoming a nurse until she became unit secretary at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Lexington.

“I worked with the most phenomenal nurses at the VA. They were smart, compassionate and committed to patient care. I was in awe of them. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a nurse and work with patients and families. I became the nurse my mother dreamed of being,” said Newman.

Working with Saint (Mother) Teresa
In 1977, Newman traveled to India on her first of many medical mission trips.  On one such trip in 1995, she met and worked with Saint Teresa of Calcutta at the Home for the Destitute and Dying operated by the Missionaries of Charity in the city slums. Newman says helping the Sisters care for and treat people who were considered the lowest of the low and who were dying was a life altering experience. 

“The tender care the Sisters gave to the poorest of the poor at the end of life was my first introduction and formed the core of my belief in palliative care,” said Newman. “My experiences in India and with Saint Teresa anchored me to what life is about and kept me grounded throughout the years. It helped me focus on what really matters in life and what is truly at the heart of it all.”

Retirement Won’t Slow Her Down
Most people consider retirement a chance to slow down, lay back, and relax. However, that’s not what Newman has in mind. She is already working on The Ukrainian Hospital Project, a modern, state of the art for-profit hospital and medical training facility, scheduled to be built in Kiev, Ukraine.  

“People in the area want Western style medicine. They’re looking for advanced treatments in modern facilities,” said Newman.

Working along with the Deans of Nursing at Spalding University, Bellarmine University and the University of Louisville, Newman will develop a curriculum to up-skill nursing staff to meet the needs of the new hospital. The training program will educate experienced nurses on more modern medical treatments and teach them how to use medical equipment new to them. 

“It will be an intensive immersion experience to broaden and deepen their skills. They’re already trained nurses and medical professionals, they just need to advance their skills,” said Newman.

The Future of Healthcare
Newman has always embraced her role as teacher. She has served as an Adjunct Faculty at Bellarmine University’s Lansing School of Nursing, and Assistant Professor of Nursing, RN to BSN Program at Kentucky Wesleyan College, and Assistant Professor of Nursing, Associate Degree Program at Madisonville Community College. 

“I have always believed that being a nurse and serving patients and families, often at the most vulnerable times in their lives, is a sacred and holy relationship to be honored, respected, and cherished.  I think mentoring and supporting nurses and nurse leaders in their own professional growth and development has been my overarching achievement and the one most gratifying to me,” said Newman.

Darla A. Meredith MSN, RN, NE-BC, Director of Nursing and Magnet Leader, Baptist Health Louisville worked with Newman for more than 20 years and says was a supportive and encouraging mentor.   

“Karen taught me to have the courage to step outside of my comfort zone and in doing so, I’ve learned new things, gained confidence and discovered talents I didn’t realize I had,” said Meredith. “She would often remind me of the importance of staying true to oneself and to your own moral compass. At the end of the day, you have to be at peace with your decisions and choices as a leader.” 

Newman says the healthcare environment graduating nurses will face today has changed dramatically from the one she entered 40 years ago. She says the rapid pace of change in healthcare is unprecedented. One challenge facing the healthcare system is a sociological issue as we decide what our healthcare system should look like in the future and how it’s going to be funded, she said. 

“We as a society are changing our view of healthcare - how we want to pay for it and how we want it delivered. It’s a challenging and complex issue,” said Newman. 

Newman believes the biggest challenge in healthcare today is an aging healthcare workforce. As the Baby Boomers continue to retire, we lose seasoned professionals. They are leaving the workforce faster than we can prepare those coming behind, said Newman. 

“You can’t give recent graduates 20 years of real-world experience. They are coming out of school well-trained in theory and entry level skill, but it’s the practical day to day experiences that come with time they’re lacking. We don’t have a nursing shortage, we have an experienced nursing shortage,” said Newman. 

Q&A with Dr. Newman
Looking back, what are you most proud of in your career?

The idea of retirement gives you the opportunity to reflect on the arc of your career and I can tell you it is a very gratifying and humbling experience. My career as a CNO and executive leader has afforded me the opportunity to meet and work with incredible nurses, physicians, and colleagues, not only here in this country but around the world.  Having the opportunity to work with, to influence and be influenced by the countless nurses, team members, physicians, colleagues and, yes, patients and their families has been the greatest reward.  Of course, leading this organization to Magnet designation three times now, would rate up there as one of the proudest moments and highlights of my career! 

What advice would you have to women in leadership?
Be bold, courageous, authentic, humble with self, but demonstrate pride in your team.  Humility does not mean minimizing your own contributions or talent, but hubris can be fatal…manage up the team. There is no “I” in the word team.  Take on challenges that others avoid.  Learn the skills to achieve consensus in problem solving.  Develop emotional intelligence, be self-aware, and intuitive to the motivations and needs of others, in order to achieve the goal, best possible outcome.  Continuously refine interpersonal relationship skills.  Cultivate listening skills as much as verbal and written skills.  Most of all enjoy what you are doing and be able to recognize if you are losing your passion.  Take time to renew your spirit.  

What advice would you give to a young nurse starting out?
Seek out learning opportunities from both experienced nurses, as well as leaders.  Learning the value of working with teams and interprofessional collaboration is essential.  Continuously challenge yourself to grow and learn more each day.  First and foremost:  always care for and treat every patient and family, the way you would want the person(s) you love most in the world, to be treated and you will not fail or make the wrong decision.  

What will you miss most when you leave Baptist Health?
I’ll miss the people the most and being in the midst of everything. We’re on the precipice of so many exciting things and innovations in healthcare, and Baptist Health is really on the cusp of being in the forefront.  I’ve been very fortunate to have strong directors and managers on the nursing leadership team. I’m extremely proud of where I’m leaving things.


About Dr. Newman
Karen Profitt Newman, EdD, MSN, RN, NEA-BC
Vice President, Baptist Health Louisville

Spalding University, Louisville, KY, EdD     2001  
University of Evansville, Evansville, IN, MSN    1990                
University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, BSN           1980          
Lexington Technical Institute, Lexington, KY 1977     

Career History:    
Vice President, Chief Nursing Officer,
Baptist Health Louisville (formerly Baptist Hospital East) 1999-present

Vice President, Patient Care Services,
Hardin Memorial Hospital, (Managed by Baptist Health) 1998-1999

Vice President, Patient Care Services,
Jennie Stuart Medical Center, 1998-1999

Consultant (concurrent with VP/CNO roles)
Quorum Health Resources, 1993-1998

Chief Nursing Officer,
Muhlenberg Community Hospital, 1990-1996

Professional Services Consultant for 2-state region, 14 facilities
Hillhaven Corporation (parent company of Maple Manor; now Kindred Healthcare)

Director of Nursing, Interim Administrator,
Maple Manor Health Care Center, 1983-1985

Staff nurse, charge nurse
VA Medical Center & University of Kentucky Medical Center, 1977-1980