This week I have the pleasure of being at the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) conference in Phoenix and surrounded by some of the best minds in nursing. As I look through the roster of speakers and session options I’m awestruck by the depth and breadth of nursing’s professional practice.
For years, in my Reclaiming Your Passion for Nursing keynote, I’ve compared great nursing skills to lessons taken from the Wizard of Oz. Looking at the sessions in this year’s AONE lineup, I’m more convinced than ever that great nurse leaders have the essential qualities needed to lead healthcare into a brighter future.
Brains – The critical thinking and science required in today’s healthcare world is essential for not only the nurse leaders but for the front line nursing staff as well. The evidence-based practice and use of technology requires constant learning and demands critical thinking. They must stay abreast of the science and measure results.
Heart – I believe that most nurses are driven by a desire to deliver compassionate care. In today’s world of value based purchasing and CAHPS, there is a need to focus on, and measure, the patient experience. Empathy and compassion, when balanced with the science and technology, is the nurses’ most powerful toolset.
Courage – Nursing has always required courage. That courage is mustered at the bedside when serving as a patient advocate and ensuring that the patient is served with intelligence, dignity, and respect. It is also required of the nurse leader who must speak on behalf of the patient, from the board room and c-suite, to bedside in order to ensure safe, compassionate, and competent care.
Vision and leadership – Just as Dorothy inspired her companions to follow her toward the promise of a brighter future, today’s nurse leaders must be able to clearly articulate their vision for the future and map the journey. There are times when the road gets rough and unforeseen obstacles emerge but the leader never loses sight of the destination, nor does she waver from accountability.
I’m proud to call myself a nurse and honored to be able to partner with nurse leaders as they navigate their way into the future and a better patient experience. Like our beloved characters from Oz, we’ll all do better when we hold hands along the journey.