Category Archives: National Nurses Week 2014

May 19 2014
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A Leader Is Not Handed a Magic Wand; A Leader Steps Forward

National Nurses Week has ended, but several nurses are continuing the conversation, blogging about the reasons they aspire to leadership. Karen Rawls, MSN/Ed, RN, serves on the Georgia Nursing Leadership Coalition, is sitting chair for the Georgia Nurses Association Metro Atlanta Chapter, and is on the board of the Atlanta Black Nurses Association. Rawls is finishing her PhD in Education with a Specialty in Nursing Education and Research. She was named the 2011-12 Nurse of the Year in Education by the Georgia Chapter of the March of Dimes.

Nursing is a profession of opportunities, obstacles, and overtures.

Life as a nurse is very rewarding! I have always considered the profession to be a smorgasbord of delectable treats, with no limit as to how much one could partake. The nurse is one of the few people gifted with the ability to care for the sick, encourage the downtrodden, and support those in need of healing treatments.

So what does this have to do with nurse leadership? Leadership places the nurse at the helm of the ship, allowing ease in making decisions. Nurse leadership takes on a coat of many colors as diversity introduces opportunities to those who often are left behind or may have limited access to the boardroom. I frequently lament the unspoken ideas and unheard options of homogenous committees; imagine the possibilities if each leadership committee was composed of diverse members who collaborated according to care models and cultural competence.

Guiding nurses from different cultures, geographic regions, and ethnicities has allowed me to peer into a kaleidoscope and see our commonalities where others see confrontation and confusion. We truly are more alike than different, and this is particularly true for nurses—possibly more than any other profession. 

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May 15 2014
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An RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar on Why She Wants to Be a Nurse Leader

National Nurses Week just ended, but several nurses are continuing the conversation, blogging about the reasons they aspire to leadership. Jing Wang, PhD, MPH, RN, is an assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholar (2013-2016).

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When I was a nursing student, I cared for home-bound elderly patients on a volunteer basis. Many of the patients I cared for weren’t able, or didn’t know how, to care for themselves properly. They didn’t always take their medications as they were prescribed, and they didn’t always take their chronic conditions very seriously. Often, they would wind up in the emergency room for conditions they could have managed at home.

I decided to become a professional nurse to help elderly patients take better care of themselves at home—and stay out of the hospital. I am so glad I did; I am overjoyed when my patients learn to become compliant with their medication regimens, eat right, and get the exercise they need to stay healthy.

I know I made a difference with my patients, and that knowledge motivated me to find more, and better, ways to help more patients. I wanted to effect large-scale change, to develop interventions that have the potential to help the millions of people all over the world who suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes.

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May 14 2014
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Mentors Can Help Young Nurses Grow into Leaders

National Nurses Week just ended, but several nurses are continuing the conversation, blogging about the reasons they aspire to leadership. Chelsea Savage, RN, MSHA, CPHRM, is a professional liability investigator at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, Va., and was recognized in 2011 as a young nursing leader by the Virginia Action Coalition.

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Like many nursing advocates, I internalized my interest in social justice through my personal history. I was raised by a single mother on welfare, and my childhood had the added stress of an educational disadvantage. My mother, motivated by strong religiosity and the isolation from society characteristic of this construct, took me out of school in sixth grade and forced me into a passive homeschool process. I was given curricula, but not a teacher, so I taught myself and passed the General Educational Development test, better known as the GED, at 15.

I was introduced to nursing while volunteering at a hospital for two–and-half years and pursued an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) for a year at age 16. Later, though, I dropped out of the ADN program. At 26, then a step-mom of three and a biological mom of one, I went back and earned my nursing degree.

Having said goodbye to my cultish upbringing, I was now driven by an insatiable curiosity and felt limitless educational potential. I went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, a graduate degree in health administration, and a fellowship in health law. I am now earning my doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) and am seen by some as a nursing leader.

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May 13 2014
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An RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholar on Why She Wants to Be a Nurse Leader

National Nurses Week just ended, but several nurses are continuing the conversation, blogging about the reasons they aspire to leadership. Jenee Skinner-Hamler, DNP, RN, FNP, completed her master of science degree at the Rutgers School of Nursing as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) New Jersey Nursing Scholar, and received additional support from NJNI to pursue her doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree at Wilkes University.

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Becoming a nurse leader permits me to give voice to help bridge theory and practice by reflecting on educational and practical learning. Nurse leaders help to shape the next generation of nurses. With that being said, why wouldn’t I desire to become a nurse leader? Having a voice helps not just myself, but others to overcome setbacks while constantly thinking of solutions in nursing.

Throughout my nursing career, I have had the opportunity to function as a team leader on a critical care unit. Functioning in such a capacity requires that I engage my co-workers, while at the same time balancing my own ambitions and competence. Nurse leaders broadcast their knowledge and skills, and then share their knowledge with their co-workers, to improve patient outcomes. To become a nurse leader, one must possess a passion for learning.

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May 12 2014
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Two Nurses Serving in Congress Discuss Nurse Leadership

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For National Nurses Week, two nurses who serve in the U.S. House of Representatives share their views on nurse leadership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Blog. Lois Capps, D-Calif., has served in the House since 1998; and Diane Black, R-Tenn., since 2011.

Capps: We Must Increase Our Nursing Workforce


Human Capital Blog:
Prior to running for Congress, you worked as a nurse and a nursing instructor. How does your background as a nurse help shape your agenda on Capitol Hill?

Lois Capps

Rep. Lois Capps: When I began my career as a nurse, I never imagined I would become a member of Congress. But when my husband passed away shortly into his first term in Congress, I was encouraged by my friends and neighbors to run, and I won the seat in a special election. Despite the fact that nurses and other health care professionals often never think about engaging in policy-making careers, I knew my experience as a nurse would make me a great advocate for the health community in Congress. Just as nurses are the best advocates on behalf of our patients, we are naturally inclined to be the best advocates on behalf of our patients in the Capitol.

HCB: You have made addressing the nursing shortage a priority. What has Congress done so far to address past shortages, and what needs to be done to curb future ones?

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May 11 2014
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Florence Nightingale Showed Us the Value of Nurse Leaders Long Ago

Angela Barron McBride, PhD, RN, is a distinguished professor and dean emerita at the Indiana University School of Nursing, a member of the Indiana University Health Board, and chair of the National Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholars program.

Angela McBride, PhD, RN

As we celebrate National Nurses Week, which ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday (tomorrow, May 12th), I have been thinking anew about why she is such a good role model for 21st-century nurse leadership. No insipid “Lady with a Lamp,” she pioneered the use of applied statistics to develop policy and other novel ways of displaying data to change minds. For example, she developed the coxcomb, a variation on today’s pie chart in which each wedge represents a month’s worth of mortality figures, and then made use of these graphic displays in arguing for how improved hygiene can dramatically result in decreased mortality.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has been particularly encouraging of getting more nurses on boards, and Nightingale personified the skill set and abilities that we need on today’s hospital boards. While I wouldn’t presume to put myself in the same company as Ms. Nightingale, I do serve on the board of Indiana University Health, an 18-hospital network, and I have chaired the board’s committee on quality and patient safety for over nine years. That perspective has confirmed for me that the lens through which nurses look at health care, particularly as exemplified by Nightingale, is very much needed at the board level.

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The American Hospital Association lists a number of capabilities needed for board governance—an understanding of health care, business acumen, achievement orientation, community-mindedness, organizational awareness, a sense of strategy, innovative thinking, and team leadership. These are the competencies Nightingale had and so do her 21st-century sisters and brothers.

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May 10 2014
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One Nurse’s Leadership Journey

Cynthia Crone, MNSc, APRN, CPNP, is deputy commissioner of the Arkansas Insurance Department, where she created and now leads the state’s Partnership Health Insurance Marketplace. She is an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellows program

Cynthia Crone

Being asked to write a post about nurse leadership for National Nurses Week presents a wonderful opportunity to reflect on my nursing journey and express appreciation for the many nurses and other leaders who have played a supportive role in my development. A career in public health with an emphasis on vulnerable populations, including most recently directing efforts in Arkansas to implement the Health Insurance Marketplace, has reinforced with me the critical role nurse leaders play in the politics and policy of health care and how very important it is to foster and support community involvement and interdisciplinary collaboration by younger nurses. 

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I started nursing school in the mid-1970s. Nurse practitioners were just coming on the scene. After graduation I obtained certification as a pediatric nurse practitioner and traveled to 10 rural counties to hold “well child clinics.” I learned a lot from the public health nurses. I loved my job. The work helped me better understand the bio-psycho-social-spiritual art and science of nursing and the social determinants of health. Further, through interaction with nurse and other community leaders, I learned that another element—political–can’t be ignored.

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May 10 2014
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National Nurses Week Online

In addition to the National Nurses Week carnival on this blog, there is a lot of other information available online this year. Following are just a few examples:

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May 9 2014
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Bringing the Caring Touch to Leadership Tables

Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, is senior adviser for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action.

Sue Hassmiller

I flew to Florida years ago to be with my father at the end of his life. He lay in a hospital bed, at times conscious of the family members gathered at his side and other times unaware of his loved ones surrounding him. I watched a nurse I didn’t know lean over and kiss his forehead.

At another hospital bed years later, I watched a nurse comfort my daughter as she labored to bring my first granddaughter into the world. “You’ll be okay,” she whispered to my daughter, giving her a hug.

The end of life and the beginning of life, marked by a compassionate nurse keeping vigil and offering comfort.  In the midst of machines, a nurse provides a human touch and caring to patients and their family members.

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The essence of caring is what first attracted me to the nursing profession. Now, more than 35 years later, the essence of caring still propels me in my work as the director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of RWJF and AARP to transform health through nursing. One of the Campaign’s major focus areas is promoting nursing leadership. 

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May 9 2014
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Diversity Forges Possibilities and Paths to Leadership

Deidre Walton, JD, MSN, RN-PHN, is the 11th president of the National Black Nurses Association. She is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College with more than 30 years managed care experience in nursing practice, education, and administration. Walton is a retired commissioned officer for the U.S. Army, holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the founder of the Imani Community.

Deidre Walton

I fully embrace the American Nurses Association’s 2014 theme for National Nurses Week: Nurses Leading the Way. This theme flows from the clarion call from the Institute of Medicine that nurses should be full partners with physicians and other health professionals in redesigning health care in the United States.

Strong leadership is critical if the vision of a transformed health care system is to be realized. Because the demographics of the United States are increasingly more diverse, it is also imperative that the field considers not only leaders from diverse backgrounds but also how to lead diverse constituents as partners in our mission.

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Strong leadership is also tied to the achievement of a transformed health care system. But the transformation can only come by the field embracing diversity. That is the essential first step. What follows is greater success in combatting health disparities, and supporting development and growth of new leaders.

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