Liz Carlton

Liz Carlton

Liz Carlton, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, CPHQ, CPPS

Quality, Safety and Regulatory Compliance
The University of Kansas Health System
Kansas City, Kansas
United States

It is said that “a leader takes people where they want to go; a great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”  Liz Carlton is a great leader!

Liz’s heart is always focused on doing what is right for patients and their families.  Her incredible mind gives her the vision to see possibilities for change and improvement.  It is, however, Liz’s unique spirit that resonates with others. She is smart, passionate, fearless, and detail-oriented in ways that save lives.  She is also so much fun!

Liz is also a life-long learner who listens.  Both qualities have contributed to her becoming an expert in multiple areas.  These attributes allow Liz to inspire, influence and motivate others to achieve common goals.  Liz takes people where they need to go.

Working for Liz is challenging and inspiring.  She expects the team to do their best and never asks us to do anything she would not do herself.  I trust her and her intentions without question.  She makes everyone on our team want to do work that is as flawless as hers.  That is influence. Praise from Liz is a great motivator.  Interestingly, push-back from Liz is also a great motivator.  I can honestly say that I would rather receive push-back from Liz, than compliments from many others because I know her intentions are to provide great care and to help make me better at what I do. That quality alone is a tribute to Liz’s skill in motivating others.

Liz is involved in so many quality initiatives at the Hospital.  She leads groups that focus on zero harm.  This is hard work that involves motivating interdisciplinary partners to change and improve practices.  Liz is passionate about leading these efforts.  She uses data to communicate areas of opportunity.  Liz is not afraid of crucial conversations, when needed. She is always prepared with current, relevant data to facilitate the accurate communication of ideas.  Liz’s skillful communication allows recommendations to be taken in a collegial manner, rather than a threatening, questioning manner.  Her involvement on projects results in safer care for patients.

I’ve been told that Liz’s middle name is Pauline, yet I personally believe that “accountability” is her middle name.  Liz never settles for anything that does not meet Hospital standards.  She is fearless and firm in this regard.  It would be easy to cite countless examples of how Liz holds herself and others accountable.  Watching her inspires me to speak up when I see things that do not meet the standard.  Liz sets the bar high for herself and others.  I often think in terms of WWLD (What Would Liz Do).

Liz jumps in whenever and wherever needed.  You might find her in the ED, on a PSRT call, immersed in Magnet activities, fitting bike helmets with Headstrong for Jake, leading concussion program activities, or starring in a music video.  Liz’s guidance has helped the Hospital navigate many accreditation surveys: TJC, Magnet, Trauma, Burn, the list goes on and on.  She is a talented individual who is a respected member of countless teams. 

Most importantly, Liz connects with people’s hearts.  Many years ago she met the family of a young boy who was injured in a bicycle accident.  I have heard the family reflect on their initial meeting with Liz.  I believe they describe that as a moment “when an indomitable force entered their lives”.  Sadly, their son, Jake went on to die.  His story was tragic and the family’s grief unbearable.  Liz has worked with this family for years - as an advocate and friend.  The family started the Headstrong for Jake Foundation.  Liz has helped the organization grow.  She recruits hospital volunteers for the many bike helmet fittings events that occur throughout the year.  Liz is also an active helmet fitter herself.  Her leadership has made a difference for this family and for the safety of children in our community. Thank you Liz for all that you do.