Kathleen Bartholomew

Health & Healthcare, Healthcare Management, Nursing

Travels from Washington, USA

Kathleen Bartholomew's speaking fee falls within range:
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Kathleen Bartholomew Profile

A registered nurse and counselor, Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MN, is a recognized national authority on the nursing profession. When she managed a 57 bed surgical unit in Seattle she focused on engendering a sense of belonging in her staff, encouraging them to make connections and value each other. She overcame the nursing shortage and significantly improved staff, physician and patient satisfaction.

Kathleen brings her prior experience in marketing, business, communications and teaching to her analysis of the nursing profession. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts, majoring in sociology. The skills she gained from her studies have enabled her fruitfully to analyze important issues in health care, including the physician/nurse relationship and hostility between nurses. Her Master’s thesis Speak Your Truth: Probing Strategies for Effective Nurse–Physician Communication is unique in its examination of issues arising between physicians and nurses.

In her second book, Kathleen examined nurse-to-nurse horizontal violence in institutions, asking why it should be a commonplace in the nursing profession that “nurses eat their young.” With 60% of new graduates leaving their first nursing position within six months due to experiencing some form of lateral violence, Kathleen’s study Ending Nurse to Nurse Hostility is vital reading for anyone involved in nursing.

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    Before turning to healthcare as a career in 1994, Kathleen Bartholomew held positions in marketing, business, communications and teaching. It was these experiences that allowed her to look at nursing from a different perspective and speak poignantly to the issues that affect nurses today.

    Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MN, a registered nurse and counselor, has been a national speaker for the nursing profession for the past six years. As the manager of a 57 bed surgical unit in Seattle, Kathleen quickly recognized that creating a culture where staff felt a sense of belonging was critical to retention. Throughout Swedish Medical Center Kathleen spoke to the numerous factors which propel our society toward isolation and encouraged staff to connect and value one another. During her tenure as manager, staff, physician and patient satisfaction improved significantly as she implemented her down-to earth strategies for creating community. Despite the nursing shortage, Kathleen could always depend on a waiting list of nurses and nursing assistants for her unit. (Manion, J., Bartholomew, K. 2004. Community in the workplace. Journal of nursing Administration 34(1.)

    Kathleen’s Bachelor’s Degree is in Liberal Arts with a strong emphasis on Sociology. This background laid the foundation for her to correctly identify the norms and mores particular to healthcare – specifically physician-nurse relationships and nurse-to-nurse hostility. For her Master’s Thesis she authored “Speak Your Truth: Proven Strategies for Effective Nurse-Physician Communication which is the only book to date which addresses physician-nurse issues. Exceeding marketing expectations, Speak Your Truth was well-received by staff nurses who could easily resonate with Kathleen’s narrative style and “down in the trenches” material. Kathleen consistently captures her audience with the power of story as her participant evaluations illustrate.

    In December of 2005, Kathleen resigned her position as manager in order to write a second book on horizontal violence in nursing. The expression, “why nurses eat their young” has existed for many years in the nursing profession (and has troubled many in the profession). In her book, Ending Nurse to Nurse Hostility (2006), Kathleen offers the first comprehensive and compassionate look at the etiology, impact and solutions to horizontal violence. With statistics demonstrating that 60% of new grads leave their first position within six months because of some form of lateral violence, this subject cannot be ignored. This summer Kathleen presented her work at the International Sigma Theta Tau Conference in Vienna.

    Kathleen’s passion for nursing is infectious. Her thoughtful presentations inter-laced with research reawaken every nurse’s commitment and love of nursing. Her most ardent desire is to empower nurses through knowledge and the power of story. Every nurse that hears her is inspired.

Kathleen Bartholomew Speaking Videos

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Kathleen Bartholomew's Speech Descriptions

Kathleen offers a series of talks that examine some of the most crucial issues in healthcare today. Looking at patient safety culture, she demonstrates that managers are unable to see the bigger picture and to assess the cultural failings that put patient safety at risk.

In her specialist area of nursing, Kathleen puts forward her proposals to end nurse-to-nurse hostility. She proposes a methodology for healing relationships by recognizing and openly discussing the problem and taking action to end it. She shows that physicians and nurses alike do not communicate effectively due to their adoption of a passive aggressive communication culture and a desire to avoid conflict.

Kathleen’s studies have shown that poor nurse physician relationships can actually affect patient mortality; in order to end this dangerous and destructive culture she demonstrates from her own personal experience how a community culture can be established which will enhance both employee satisfaction and patient recovery. In all of Kathleen’s speeches she demonstrates her passion for and joy in nursing, and rekindles that passion and joy in others.

Leading a Patient Safety Culture: Beyond the Statistics
(Level: Geared from front line managers to board members)
The ever increasing demands of leadership have not allowed today’s leaders the luxury of time needed to step back and look at the ‘big picture.’ The biggest failure of all has proven to be the most critical: a failure of perception. Culture has repeatedly been identified as the greatest barrier to patient safety (IHI). What is this phenomenon that travels as a powerful undercurrent in organizations? And how can leaders’ un-mine and control an invisible force?

Using Professor Diamond’s framework (Collapse), for “How group decisions fail,” this presentation offers a fresh and fascinating look at the hospital safety culture in light of sociology. Patient safety can never be achieved as a top-down driven initiative. Safety is a core value. In this session, leaders will learn how to identify their culture beyond the statistics and sustain the value system and behaviors critical to keeping our patients safe.


  • List three reasons why groups fail at decision making
  • Discuss the impact of perception on patient safety and quality care
  • Identify and apply two major concepts that would provide perspective and power to leadership
  • Understand how to maximize power and resources within a human institution.
  • Describe two specific actions that you personally can adopt now to lead a patient safety culture.

Healing Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility & Creating Healthy Relationships
The expression “Nurses eat their young” is so far removed from our idea of the caring and nurturing nurse that we shudder to think it could possibly be true. Bur the truth is, nurses are hurting each other. Stories from the ‘front line’ cannot be ignored. These stories are the voices of nurses telling the world about their experiences. In addition, research shows that 60% of newly registered nurses leave their first position within six months because of some form of abuse from a co-worker. The first step to healing our relationships is the most difficult: to recognize and openly discuss the problem. Only by understanding the origin and reasons for our behaviors can we even begin to create the healing environment that is so desperately needed in nursing- for ourselves, as well as our patients.


  • Acknowledge that nurse to nurse hostility is a serious problem.
  • Explain why nurses experience un-caring behaviors from their peers.
  • List one action that you can take to build a culture of healthy relationships and/or decrease horizontal hostility in the workplace.

How Professionals Communicate
As a culture, studies show that both physicians and nurses fall short of communicating their concerns to their colleagues because of a passive-aggressive style of communication and conflict avoidance. Clearly, if we are to deliver the highest level of safe, quality care and create the collegial relationships that will nurture and support each other, we must learn a new way of engaging with each other. Participants will leave this presentation prepared, empowered, and determined to engage in the conversations they have been avoiding.


  • List three situations that demand a conversation in healthcare.
  • Recognize the impact of culture on communication.
  • Describe a conversation you avoid and apply the DESC model to this situation.
  • State two behaviors that are not ‘normal’ and must be confronted in order to create and sustain a healthy work environment

Nursing Leadership: “If Not Us, Then Who?”
The field of “Knowledge Utilization” has identified the optimal information needed at different points in an organization for people to best maximize their effectiveness. According to this research, the ‘generals’ need the concepts and the ‘captains’ need strategies and tactics. Unfortunately, the ever increasing demands of nursing leadership have not allowed nursing leaders the luxury of time needed to step back and look at the ‘big picture’ and lead today’s nurses.

Using Professor Diamond’s framework (Collapse), for “How group decisions fail,” this presentation offers a fresh and fascinating look at the nursing profession withing the American healthcare system as well as a ‘call to arms’ for rallying together in light of this crises.


  • List three reasons why groups fail at decision making
  • Discuss the impact of perception on patient safety and quality care
  • Identify two major concepts that would provide perspective and power to nursing leaders.
  • Understand how to maximize power and resources within a human institution.

Improving MD/RN Relationships: “I’m OK, You’re A Doctor: The RN/MD Game”
It’s the patient who loses when nurses and physicians are in conflict. Research shows that not only do poor nurse-physician relations affect morale and retention, but also patient mortality. In order to achieve best practice, we need to understand why we play this game and how it started. Learn practical strategies for building good relations that will be ego-boosting for both nurses and physicians and leave this presentation with the courage and determination to improve your working relationships.


  • Identify two strategies that you can implement to improve MD/RN relationships at your workplace.
  • Explain one reason for the source of physician-nurse conflict.
  • Describe a current situation in your practice where physicians and nurses play “the game.”

Creating Community: The Key to Recruitment and Retention
In a world characterized by increasing complexity and diversity, in which many are feeling greater alienation, the workplace is a fertile common ground. High-tech companies not only recognize that people are their most important resource, but also strive to create an environment in which their employees can find personal value and meaning in their work. The health care industry lags behind and the shortage of nurses is providing additional challenges. We can measure our effectiveness as nurse managers by the quality of our relationships.

(Kathleen managed a 57 bed Orthopedic and Spine unit in Seattle, Washington. For the last three quarters of her tenure, her unit was in the top 10% of patient, physician and employee satisfaction. With a turnover rate of less than 3% and a waiting list for employment on the unit for over three years, Kathleen’s success is dependent upon one thing: building a community of nurses who feel that they belong and who care about each other.)


  • Recognize the impact of building community on retention and recruitment.
  • Define community in relationships to the nursing profession.
  • List two specific activities that will promote community on your unit.
  • Describe why the art of nursing flourishes in a community setting.

A Passion for the Art of Nursing
(Based on The HeArt of Nursing, by C. Wendler)
Nursing is both a science and an art. The science of nursing requires us to stimulate our minds while the art of nursing engages our soul. As we tackle the everyday challenges, it is clear that many of us have forgotten the joy of nursing. Using the power of story, Kathleen inspires nurses to be in awe and appreciation at nurses’ work. This lecture challenges how we look at our own profession, reminding us through the story of the moments where we have connected to another human being on the deepest of levels as we help them to deal with the gamut of human emotions. When we encourage the role of nurse as artist, and integrate these qualities into our daily routine, we unleash our own personal power - Nursing then becomes a place to be nourished rather than drained.


  • Re-kindle your passion for the nursing profession.
  • Describe the importance of practicing both the art and science of nursing.
  • Identify two situations in your practice where you have experienced or observed nursing as “art”.

What People are Saying about Seeing Kathleen Speak

Rating Entries

    “Kathleen Bartholomew, a gifted nurse and teacher, explores many of the dysfunctional dynamics destroying the morale of healthcare professionals, and she does it with a fresh, deadly serious voice interspersed with delightful humor that also inspires change.”
    Allen R. Wyler, MD,
    Neurosurgeon and author of Deadly Errors

    “Kathleen uses the vehicle of story, liberally seasoned with humor, to present imaginative and creative approaches to age-old problems with communications between nurses and doctors.”
    Genevieve Bartol, RN,
    EdD, AHN-C(P),
    University of North Carolina, Greensboro

    “Kathleen′s work illuminates and defines a murky and omnipresent problem that has a strangle hold on the heart of the nursing profession.”
    Chancey Boye, RN

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