Ascension Seton leaders complete national nurses’ fellowship



Yvonne VanDyke, MSN

Prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellowship gives nurse leaders health care transformation tools

Within the ever-changing health care environment, it’s essential for health care executives to continually advance their knowledge and strengthen their leadership skills.

Two of Ascension’s Texas ministry nurse leaders, Yvonne VanDyke, MSN, systems chief nursing officer, and Kristi Henderson, DNP, vice president of Virtual Care and Innovation, recently completed the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellows program. They join the ranks of extraordinary nurse leaders, including alumna Ann Hendrich, PhD, Ascension senior vice president and chief nursing officer.


Kristi Henderson, DNP

Seton is part of Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system.

The fellowship program is a three-year, advanced leadership initiative that expands and enhances the effectiveness of nurse leaders to help them make a profound impact on the U.S. health care system. More than 100 nurse executives across the nation applied for only 20 program slots, and two of those seats went to Seton.

“The fellowship gave me an exceptional opportunity to improve my strategic planning and execution skills in the areas of leading teams and organizations focused on improving health care,” said VanDyke. “These skills are especially important during this time of rapid change in the health care landscape.”

The program’s rigorous leadership development involves a significant time investment from the leaders. Here’s a snapshot of some of the training requirements:

  • Mastery of an advanced curriculum that employs best practices in leadership, e.g., sharing the role of leading as a follower.
  • Intensive executive mentoring from faculty and leading experts.
  • Working as a team to design and implement technology-based models to improve outcomes as patients move through the health care system.
  • Conducting individual projects. VanDyke focused on specific communication methods that inspire patients and families to adopt positive health changes. Henderson developed a mobile software app that provides mental and medical health services to remote users.

While the training is intense, the benefits are profound.

“There is not an aspect of my day that isn’t impacted by this leadership program,” said Henderson. “I think, act and work differently and as a result I am having a bigger impact on the transformation of our health care system. And, as an alumna of this fellowship, I now have a network of experts who together will make a difference in the health of our country.”