Kirby Bates Associates Introduces President and President Emeritus Leadership

Healthcare and Nurse Executive Melissa Fitzpatrick Becomes New President,
Continuing Tradition of Excellence 

Industry Veteran Karen Kirby Assumes President Emeritus Role in Business That Bears Her Name

Congratulations to our leaders

ORLANDO, Fla., January 22, 2020 — Kirby Bates Associates, a nurse executive-led and operated national leader in healthcare executive search, interim leadership, leadership coaching and consulting services, today announced that Karen K. Kirby, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN, has transitioned to a new role in the business, that of president emeritus. This month, industry thought leader Melissa Fitzpatrick, MSN, RN, FAAN, assumes the role as Kirby Bates Associates’ new president, continuing its tradition of excellence in nursing executive leadership.

Melissa Fitzpatrick Becomes New President of Kirby Bates Associates


To her new role as president of Kirby Bates Associates, Fitzpatrick brings more than 30 years of experience as a nurse leader and healthcare executive. Over the past year, she has served as chief operating officer at the company, leading key strategy initiatives and expanding its sales, marketing and technology infrastructure. With decades of clinical expertise and executive experience, she is known for working with teams to improve patient care delivery and caregiver safety and satisfaction, for mentoring thousands of nurses around the globe, and for consulting with hundreds of healthcare leaders to help assure positive clinical and operational outcomes.

“Succession planning is extremely important in any business, which is why we were so thoughtful and purposeful about who would become the next president of Kirby Bates Associates,” says Scott L’Heureux, group president of Kirby Bates Associates and seven other businesses in the Jackson Healthcare ® family of companies.

“Over the past year, Melissa has worked in close partnership with Karen, who led the organization as president and chief executive officer from 2003-2019. This has helped assure knowledge transfer, cultural alignment and a seamless transition,” adds L’Heureux. “During that time, Melissa has immersed herself in business operations, worked closely with our clients, fully integrated with our team and proven her readiness. I have the utmost confidence that the business, our associates and Kirby Bates’ tradition of excellence will continue to flourish, serving the nursing profession and healthcare industry at the highest level.”

Prior to joining the company, Fitzpatrick was vice president of critical care and cardiac services at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, senior associate chief operating officer and chief nurse executive at Duke University Medical Center, and the first ever vice president and chief clinical officer at Hill-Rom. She also has served as chief healthcare strategist at the SAS Institute and as editor-in-chief of the Nursing Management Journal.

A nationally recognized consultant, speaker and author on clinical and leadership issues in healthcare, Fitzpatrick has earned numerous honors and has many peer reviewed publications and book chapters to her credit. A Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing since 1997, she also is a past national president of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and the Foundation for Critical Care. Today, she continues to be active as an officer, task force leader and member of an array of national nursing and healthcare organizations and boards. “It is an honor to serve the Kirby Bates Associates team as we continue to expand our services and provide excellent outcomes for our clients. Doing so under the umbrella of Jackson Healthcare is icing on the cake,” notes Fitzpatrick.

Karen Kirby Assumes President Emeritus Role


As president emeritus, Kirby will continue to be active in the business, supporting it in a consulting capacity. With five decades of nursing, healthcare administration and consulting experience, she spent the past 16 years growing Kirby Bates Associates and multiplying its reach and impact. During that time, she combined expertise in nursing and hospital administration with experience in healthcare consulting to shape exceptional healthcare leadership teams and improve patient care, a model the business continues to use today.

In 2017, Kirby Bates Associates became part of Jackson Healthcare, a family of highly specialized healthcare staffing, search and technology companies. Kirby considers this union as one of her greatest accomplishments, citing values alignment and a shared commitment to improving the lives of patients and associates as key facets.

“When Jackson Healthcare acquired Kirby Bates Associates, we knew we’d added a very special organization to our family of companies. Karen and her team have continued to thrive and grow the business since that time, positioning it well as we start a new year and new decade,” says Shane Jackson, president, Jackson Healthcare.

Prior to Kirby Bates Associates, Kirby held top nursing and hospital administration positions across the U.S. and abroad. These include senior vice president for patient services at Boston University Medical Center, associate director of nursing at the University of California, San Francisco Hospitals and Clinics, executive director and chief operating officer at Healthcare International, Ltd. in Scotland, and senior director at Harvard Medical International, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Kirby is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and American College of Healthcare Executives and is Nursing Executive Advanced Board Certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Throughout her career, she also has held several board positions and faculty appointments.

“Karen’s personal accomplishments, impressive career and significant contributions to the healthcare industry are evident in her work shaping exceptional leadership teams and improving patient care. This calling—and the countless lives she has touched—are a great testament to her love of nursing, commitment to next-generation leaders, and the values and culture that are core to the business. Kirby Bates Associates is well positioned to build on Karen’s legacy with Melissa at the helm,” adds Jackson.

About Kirby Bates Associates


Kirby Bates Associates is The Nursing Leadership Specialist, driving healthcare organizations to achieve high quality, cost-effective patient care through executive search, interim leadership, leadership coaching and operations consulting services. Kirby Bates Associates is part of the Jackson Healthcare ® family of companies. Learn more at


For More Information, Contact:
Lorrie Anderson
(407) 234-8209