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Transformational change: Nurse leaders and their effect on the profession

To enact change, successful nursing leaders possess a personal credo that drives their ability to motivate everyone around them to work to achieve shared goals.

“My personal credo is that all that we do as nurses is in service to caring for the public and providing the best possible care, which requires that we have the best knowledge possible to help make this possible,” said Geraldine Polly Bednash, PhD, RN, FAAN, who is the former CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Bednash, who lead the organization from 1989 to 2014, said her credo fueled her most important leadership work, which was to help transform nursing education.

To do so, Bednash said she worked with many people to get things to happen.

“That process had been going [on] for 10 years at least with a focus on the various levels of education and [by] challenging what was happening” in many areas, including advanced practice education and research.

“We created the first new role in nursing in 40 years with the clinical nurse leader,” she said.

“The overarching theme for all of [the changes] is our belief that the ways that nurses were educated and the kinds of things they were learning and the skills they were acquiring, were not in sync with the demands of the healthcare world, and were not going to provide them with what they needed to have a long-lasting impact on healthcare.

“So we basically blew up nursing education,” Bednash said. “Not a lot of people were happy with us when we started this work.

“Having the opportunity to lead that work and bring our staff together and to work with the board was, I think, the most astonishing part of my life,” she said.

CCRN’s different view of advancement

For Paula M. Agosto, MHA, RN, CCRN, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, her proudest leadership moment might be underway. Agosto is leading a new process that will substantially change how RNs view bedside nursing.

“We are in the midst of creating something at CHOP that will be transformational for professional nursing … with a new advancement program that moves away from a traditional nursing ladder,” Agosto said. “What we were hearing from staff is that they were feeling pushed to be something other than a really good nurse at the bedside. It really dawned on me that’s not the message we are trying to give nurses. We want to let nurses know that the most important role of a nurse is their professional role at the bedside.

Agosto remembers a comment made two years ago by a nurse who retired after 39 years at the beside in critical care. The nurse shared how in the old ladder system she never felt self-worth.

“Can you imagine leaving after a 39-year career and saying you never felt worth?” Agosto said. “This woman precepted me and kind of raised me to help me be CNO and at her retirement she is saying, ‘I don’t know if I fulfilled what I should have fulfilled.’”

That “aha moment” prompted Agosto to introduce the new process, she said.

With the new model, nurses who want to develop their bedside expertise can do so “and we will help you develop into that expert. If you stay there forever, we will applaud you and respect you and recognize that,” Agosto said.


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By | 2021-05-28T17:32:59-04:00 February 22nd, 2015|Categories: Nursing News|0 Comments

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