Paula Fessler, DNP, MSN, RN, FNP-C, is Vice President, Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. A St. Louis native and former St. Louis Children's Hospital nurse practitioner, Paula joined the Barnes-Jewish leadership team in 2023.
Paula has more than 25 years of clinical nursing experience and a passion for leading teams to deliver high-quality, compassionate, patient-centered care. Before joining Barnes-Jewish, Paula served as chief nursing officer for the University of North Carolina (UNC) Hospitals in Chapel Hill. The UNC system encompasses eight hospitals with more than 900 beds, serving more than 37,000 people each year, as well as clinics and outpatient practices that serve more than 800,000 people annually.
In this position, Paula’s responsibilities included staff engagement, patient experience, multidisciplinary collaboration and strategy, operations, finance, clinical performance improvement, and community networking.
Paula is a member of American Nurses Association and has served on numerous boards, including the American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners Board of Directors. She has also participated in the ED Boarding Summit Task Force for the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Paula received a bachelor of arts degree in biology from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a bachelor of nursing degree from Syracuse University, and went on to earn a family nurse practitioner degree from Duke University and a master of business administration degree from University of Rochester. In 2022, Paula completed the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing Coldiron Senior Nurse Executive Fellowship at Case Western Reserve University. In 2023, she received her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Case Western Reserve University.