From the June 2023 RNFA eNewsletter



[The (E) stands for emeritus status; Jim helped develop these credentials.]

City and State

Denver, CO

Current Position

Joined NIFA’s staff as Director of Education on March 30, 2023


  • AA, Liberal Arts, Monroe County Community College, Monroe, MI
  • Diploma of Nursing, Toledo Hospital School of Nursing
  • BSPA, Health Care Administration, St. Joseph’s College of Maine, Standish, ME
  • BSN, East Carolina Univ. School of Nursing, Greenville, NC
  • MA, Management of Health Services, Webster University, Camp LeJeune Campus, NC
  • MSN, Clinical Services Administration/Emphasis in Perioperative Nursing, East Carolina University School of Nursing, Greenville, NC
  • PhD, International Health Research, Trident University International College of Health Sciences, Cypress, CA

Work Background

  • 34 years of service in the Navy Nurse Corps, including many years as an Operating Room Manager
  • 11+ years with CCI (Competency and Credentialing Institute), starting as Director of Education and Test Development, eventually serving as CEO.
  • Currently a part-time adjunct professor at two universities: Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA, and Nova Southeastern University, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Path to Surgical Nursing

Jim grew up in rural southern Michigan. In 1973, while still in high school, he enlisted in the Army and, shortly after graduation, reported for duty. It was the Vietnam era, but he did not serve in Vietnam; instead he worked as a military policeman in West Germany and at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan.

After his full-time service, still working as an Army Reservist, he moved with his wife to Toledo, OH, and got a job in an auto factory. When their baby daughter needed urgent surgery at 10 days old, Jim found himself spending time in the hospital and becoming intrigued by the hospital workplace. It was way more interesting than the auto factory.

His lightbulb moment happened while chatting with one of the nurses, a girl he’d gone to high school with named Rose, who was doing pediatric care. She said, “Jim, give it a try. You might be well suited.”

It didn’t hurt that Jim’s aunt was an LPN and his sister was a nurse/midwife. Eventually he used his GI benefits to enroll in a diploma course at Toledo Hospital’s School of Nursing. It took some time to get his college coursework done, graduate from nursing school and pass his boards, but by 1986 he was working in the OR at Toledo Hospital as a nurse.

“I am a diploma nurse,” he points out. “At one time, the vast majority of graduates in the United States came from diploma programs. Now probably less than 10% of the nursing workforce has a diploma as their terminal or highest degree. I did a lot of education after my diploma, but it was a much different way to come into nursing. It’s kind of a holdover from the historical development of nursing.”

Operating Room, Classroom, Credentialing Institute

By the late 1980s, Jim got word that the Navy needed OR nurses badly. Although he had only a diploma, the Navy accepted him, sending him back to school to earn a BSN. He ended up earning additional degrees with the Navy’s support: two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s, and a PhD in International Health Research. Besides stints in the classroom, he served on surgical teams in Connecticut; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Virginia; North Carolina; California; and Naples, Italy.

Counting active-duty Navy and Army and reserve time, Jim served a total of 34 years. He retired from the military in 2007, then managed two civilian operating rooms before joining CCI, the Competency and Credentialing Institute, in 2011. CCI is the primary organization administering perioperative certifications, including CNOR and numerous others. Jim started as director of Education and Test Development and eventually became CEO, staying there 11½ years before joining NIFA this spring.

He also teaches part-time as an adjunct professor at Edgewood College in Madison, WI, and Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Since there are relatively few nursing faculty members with perioperative experience, expertise like his is always in demand.

What does your position as Director of Education entail?

Back when Jim was working on his PhD, the focus of his work was on how perioperative nurses learn and acquire skill.

“After two-plus decades of studying and writing about these topics, I have the opportunity at NIFA to actually operationalize them,” he says, noting that the job allows him to use his extensive background in certification and test development as well.

NIFA’s NISE program is designed to address the gigantic challenge our country faces of bringing more perioperative nurses into the field and getting them trained. It’s the only accredited program existing today for nurses first entering the operating room. Among other things, Jim looks forward to growing and continually improving that program.

Personal Life

As of this month, Jim and his wife, Irene, have been married for 46 years. Irene is a registered nurse working in med-surg and rehab. She did not serve in the military. They have one daughter who works as a schoolteacher in Houston, TX, and is married to a professor at Rice University, and one granddaughter. As for furry friends, Jim is a cat guy, but is catless at the moment, waiting for the next feline companion to present itself.