Have you discovered that you have leadership potential, and are now interested in developing your leadership skills? A significant part of becoming a great leader is to motivate yourself to strengthen the skills that are needed to become an effective leader. An abundance of opportunities exists all around you, and it is up to you to reach out and explore what your options are. Listed below are a few recommendations on how you can begin to build your leadership skills and tap into your capabilities while you are in nursing school. These options are some of my personal favorites, because they were beneficial to me as I progressed during my undergraduate nursing program. The skills that I acquired from those experiences helped to shape my goals and overall career aspirations that I have set for my nursing career.

leadership skillsThe National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)

One of the earliest commitments you can make to the nursing profession is during your undergraduate experience by joining the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA). This association is committed to the development of nursing students as they work towards their undergraduate nursing degree. A great way to develop as a leader using this platform is to become an active member. One way to do this is to become an engaged member in your school’s chapter of the NSNA. Develop the leader within you by serving in a specific role or becoming involved on a special projects committee. There is a range of leadership opportunities, such as serving as chapter president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary, or projects chairperson. There is also an opportunity to serve as a delegate or spokesperson at the annual NSNA convention.

Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)

Sigma is committed to scholarship, leadership, and service efforts. High achieving nursing students are invited to become members based on their academic performance while in an undergraduate or graduate nursing program. Licensed nurses can join the society based on their demonstrated leadership efforts as a professional nurse.

Toastmasters International

It is imperative for nurse leaders to speak effectively. Nursing students and professional nurses oftentimes find themselves in a position where they need to present information. At some point during your education experience or while on the job, you will be expected to stand in front of a group of people to give a presentation. Just the thought of presenting in a classroom in front of peers, a boardroom in front of a group of nurse leaders, or to a large audience at a conference, is sometimes enough to spark a feeling of anxiety or even fear for some. It is during nursing school that you should begin to practice the art of speaking. Improving your communication skills will help to alleviate the anxiety and fear as you advance in your education and career. Toastmasters International is a reliable source that many successful people have deemed to be very effective. First, I recommend that you explore the national website to read about the features and benefits of the program. Next, find a local group close to you and make a guest visit. Third, commit to the program and take advantage of the special leadership development activities that they offer.

Omicron Delta Kappa

Do not be afraid to venture outside of nursing as you seek leadership opportunities. To give you an example, the National Leadership Honor Society (ODK) is an organization that is designed to support the leadership development of students. A national convention is held annually to expose members to further leadership and development opportunities. Check to see if your university is affiliated with this national leadership platform.

Campus-Wide Leadership Opportunities

Do not limit yourself. Another way to tap into your leadership potential is to explore campus-wide opportunities. Many universities have a campus life center that offers leadership and volunteer programs that will get you engaged on campus and within your surrounding community. Some creative examples include taking part in the student government association, or even committing to the Greek life by joining a sorority or fraternity. Participating in volunteer activities is a strategic way to build leadership skills. The great news is, if you cannot find anything that suits your talents and interests, many schools and universities will allow students to create a special interest group of their own.

So, there you have it. I have shared with you some of my best ideas that I believe will help you develop into the nurse leader that you aspire to be.

Brooklyn Winston, MSN, RN

Brooklyn Winston, MSN, RN, has been a nurse for seven years, primarily working in the medical-surgical/telemetry and medical intensive care units. She is currently a registered nurse at the University of Kentucky Hospital.
Brooklyn Winston, MSN, RN
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