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

May 13, 2014, 9:00 AM, Posted by

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.


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.

Although it’s been challenging, I have managed to not just have my co-workers depend on me as a team leader, I have also had to depend on them so that we were all held accountable for interdisciplinary issues, whether they directly or indirectly affected patient care. As a team leader, I had to coordinate interactions with other departments within the organization on a professional and non-professional level. This team leader experience encouraged me to return to school to obtain a doctorate in nursing.

The DNP experience was both exciting and challenging. However, I am very anxious to obtain a leadership position that will permit me to motivate other nurses. I am prepared to take ownership of being a nurse leader, and excited about having the ability to build trust, which is the foundation of leadership. In order for co-workers to trust me as a leader, I have to possess qualities such as competence, character, and the ability to make connections. Lack of trust results in lack of respect, and who wants to follow a nurse leader if they have no trust in him or her?

Based upon my past professional nursing experiences, I feel that I have always been a leader, essentially on the basis of how effectively I have worked with others. I want to become a nurse leader because I am constantly on the move in regards to nursing education, I enjoy helping others to develop a sense of direction and purpose, and overall, because I have always been committed to completing goals despite the obstacles and challenges that arise in the health care setting. I possess excellent interpersonal skills, I have a high self-esteem, I am creative, and I am willing to take risks, and able to endure the consequences of taking risks.

I want to become a nurse leader because I can be distinguished from a non-leader, and because I have completed the DNP program, which has prepared me to provide education in evidence-based nursing, allowing for development in leadership roles.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.