Gretchen K. D. McCullough, MSN, RN, NEA-BC. Photo by Donn Jones.

Family and community guide hospital’s new CNO

Published on July 5th, 2023 by Christina Echegaray.

Personal experiences and a desire to serve her community led Gretchen K. D. McCullough, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, into a nursing career.

As a child, McCullough saw her parents navigate the complexities of health care systems as they searched for a diagnosis for her younger brother’s chronic illness. Ultimately, at age 12, her brother, Thaddeus Yeiser, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. She recalls the many hours she spent as a teen with her brother in the hospital.

“I think that experience has really touched the way that I look at health care in terms of thinking of the whole family,” McCullough said. “It really is a family sport to get a child with chronic illness through childhood whole and well.”

Her life experiences and her nursing journey continue to guide McCullough as she begins a new role in her career: chief nursing officer for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

She joined Monroe Carell March 6, following a nationwide search. She succeeds Kathie Krause, MSN, RN, NNP-BC, NEA, who retired in March.

Previously, McCullough served as associate chief nursing officer for Women’s and Children’s Services at OHSU Health: Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. She believes in impacting a child’s health as early in life as possible.

“The way that a child and a family interact with a health care system can determine so much about that child’s future interaction as an adult in health care systems,” she said. “It’s a real opportunity to impact the way that a human will trust the health care system across their life span.”

Health care in rural communities is equally important to McCullough, who lived in the Appalachian Mountains of Maryland as a child, watching her aunt, a nurse, serve families who had few care options.

“One of the things that is critical to me in any job that I consider is that part of the work has to be the ability to impact care in rural communities, and Monroe Carell has a really solid outreach arm,” she said.

A native of Oakland, Maryland, and raised in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, McCullough completed an initial course of undergraduate study at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She went on to get an associate degree of nursing from Harrisburg Area Community College and a Master of Science in Nursing, Administration.

McCullough has worked in various capacities across diverse health care environments in Pennsylvania including academic, hospital and ambulatory settings. Among her many roles, she served as senior director of Ambulatory Operations: Children’s Services, Women’s Services, and Dermatology Services for Penn State Health and Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

McCullough moved to Nashville with her husband, Mac, an attorney and stay-at-home dad, along with their two children, Charlotte, 11, and Jack, 7. As a family, they love theater and the arts, and paddleboarding, and they’re excited to explore the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere and the Frist Art Museum.