Creative Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills While in Nursing School

Creative Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills While in Nursing School

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.

4 Ways to Share Your Nursing Knowledge

4 Ways to Share Your Nursing Knowledge

Nurses relay information all day long. They talk to patients, to families, to physicians, to management, and to each other constantly to learn new things and to share what they know.

But if you find others constantly seeking you out for certain information – for instance do you have a special skill with computers that makes your unit run well or do you have extensive knowledge about a certain condition? If your colleagues come to you frequently, you might want to consider sharing your knowledge in a more formal way. Not only will you help others, but it’s a great career move that makes you more comfortable with public speaking, enhances your leadership, and helps educate others so they can also add to their knowledge.

How can you share your knowledge?

1. Host a Lunch Class at Work

Holding a lunchtime talk or seminar at work fills a dual purpose. You can help your colleagues and that benefits your organization overall. You can be very informal about it and just let people know you’d like to get together to talk about how to prevent falls in the elderly, for example. Or you can make it more formal and book a conference area or meeting room.

2. Bring Your Know-How to Your Community

People who don’t work in the medical industry are always looking for information from people who are. As a nurse, you have the authority to help people, and they know you’ll give them accurate information. Offer to host a talk at your local library or senior center about nutrition for babies or staying active as a senior.

3. Head Back to School

Offer to go into a school if your specialty is adolescent health or you have great advice to offer about managing stress the healthy way. No matter what your specialty as a nurse, you can bring your career advice to any level school to talk about what a nurse does, your typical day, and the training you need. This is a great way to encourage the next generation of nurses!

4. Mentor Your Younger Colleagues

Offer to help your new coworkers review for any exams or certifications. Hold a series of after-work review sessions for a group of new nurses. Even just a couple of hours showing them good study tips and techniques can help them succeed and helps you polish your mentorship skills.

No matter where you host your talk, prepare ahead of time so you can use your time efficiently. Have an outline of what you want to say and do a couple of run throughs. It’s a good idea to have a handout or two to give your attendees some information to bring home.

Set Your Sights on a Management Position

Set Your Sights on a Management Position

If you’ve ever thought of making a career move into management, it is worth the time to make a plan for leading your career in that direction.

Minority nurse managers are always needed, but many experts will say their numbers need to grow. Making the move to nurse manager might not be fast or easy, but if you begin taking concrete steps to improve the needed skills and gain the required education, you will get there.

One of the best ways to get started is to find someone in a management position whom you admire and just watch what they do. You can request an informal meeting to ask questions about their duties, how they achieved their success, and any tips they might have for you. And also observe them when you can. How do they interact with superiors and with subordinates? How do they dress? What qualities do others think makes that person a good manager?

Of course, you don’t want to spy on them! Just make note of qualities you might want to adopt now so they become habit as you move up.

Good managers seem to balance the varied pressures of being a nurse manager well. Some of your own skills you need to assess include basic work habits like being on time, taking on extra work, taking the initiative with special projects, being open to learning new things, and recognizing the fundamental financial pressures of nursing as a business.

The route to becoming a nurse manager means you will need to demonstrate your understanding of talent management – putting the particular skills of the nurses to use in a way that will make them shine and make their work productive. Are you in charge of a committee that is looking at ways to cut down on errors? Put your most detailed nurses on the nuts and bolts of your analysis and your strongly social nurses on any patient interactions or surveys.

Good relationships are one of the building blocks for a successful team, and, just like coaching, it takes a lot of thought and planning to help it along. You have to get to know the personalities and work habits of your colleagues as well as you know your own, so you can bring out the best of everyone. Your leadership skills are strengthened each time you can make your team feel successful and encouraged, whether the results were on target or just short. And the more you are able to accomplish that, the more others will see you as a strong leader.

You also want to make sure you understand how important the bottom line is to the top echelon of the hospital. Of course, nursing is all about people, but when the top brass sees a department consistently over budget, they aren’t going to be happy. In looking at your own unit, initiate ways to save the hospital money, even if it is a small way. Grasping how the overall picture sometimes lands the budget ahead of the patient, whether you agree with it or not, is essential. That is how good nurse managers can make changes that benefit both the hospital and the patient.

So if you dream of advancing to management, start with small steps now. Learn from others you admire, take classes to supplement whatever skills you are lacking, practice fine-tuning your own leadership, and step back from your day-to-day duties to envision the big picture and positive changes that would make a difference. When your opportunity comes up, you will be ready.