Nurse Leader Spotlight: Q&A with Dr. Tanna McKinney

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Dr. Tanna McKinney is the Director of Infection Control at Eastern State Hospital. She completed her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of Kentucky in Spring 2022. Her area of interest is mental health nursing. She completed research titled The Effect of an Educational Intervention on Clinical RN Knowledge and Attitudes Toward Shared Governance Program at Eastern State Hospital. This project was important for her to do because a quality shared governance program is essential to a happy nursing workforce and the promise of magnet excellence.

Dr. McKinney has worked at Eastern State Hospital for 28 years during which she has obtained a mental health certification and her registered nurse license as well. Dr. McKinney has also served as a clinical instructor for three institutions. In addition to her work, she has presented research at five consecutive American Psychiatric Nurse Association (APNA) conferences on topics ranging from falls prevention to restraint reduction in a mental health setting. She is passionate about her work because the specialty of mental health nursing is important and exciting. Nurses make a real difference in this setting.

Dr. McKinney shares, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to get my DNP at the University of Kentucy College of Nursing.  They were supportive and encouraging at every stage especially when the pandemic hit.”

Dr. Zim Okoli shares, “Dr. McKinney’s accomplishment in completing her DNP is a demonstration of both her commitment to ESH and to the staff, patients and families that benefit from the mental and behavioral health services provided here. Her achievement also shows her exemplary leadership in scholarly pursuits in nursing. I couldn’t be prouder to call Dr. McKinney both a colleague and friend. She is such an inspiration to many and a strong example of life-long learning to advance one’s career!”

Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Film Editor.

Q: How did you go from that to being where you are now?  ​

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UK and a Masters in Community Counseling. When I started employment at ESH I fell in love with the patients and went to nursing school so I could make mental health nursing my career.  It all fits together messily.

Q: Is there are particular moment or memory from your time as a floor nurse that stands out to you? 

When I worked as a clinical nurse on the geriatric unit at ESH we used a primary nursing structure.  I feel that experience was the best because I got to know the patient and their family on a deeper level.

Q: How did BH WELL and Dr. Okoli's mentorship help support completion of your DNP?

 Encouraging and helpful.  Dr. Okoli is always willing to help with poster or podium submissions as well as absolutely any project that is on the horizon.

Q: How do you define success in your career?  ​

Success is being happy in what you do and helping others along the way.

Q: What do you think other people should know about nurse leadership? ​

 A nurse leader should be a good listener who is resilient and inspires others to put forth their best efforts.  

Q: If you had a 3-day weekend, how would you spend it?

I would go to the movies, work on a quilt and spend time with my son.

News contributor: Kylie Pemberton