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Preparing for a Career in Nursing Leadership

Preparing for a Career in Nursing Leadership

Nursing is a profession naturally associated with well-trained clinical professionals who dispense health and social care with compassion and dedication.

It is easy to forget that many also need strong leadership skills, particularly in the fast-changing world of modern medicine. There are advanced nurse practitioners these days who have earned their place at the head of teams of physicians and other colleagues. Nurses are also to be found driving forward many key health initiatives in communities, states and even countrywide.

As one study on this topic notes: “Strong leadership is critical if the vision of a transformed health care system is to be realized.” It goes on to point out that not all nurses start their careers with aspirations of leadership. Instead, the profession should do more to encourage them to prepare for and take on leadership positions “from the bedside to the boardroom.”

In this way, nurses can help to deliver high-quality care, while working in partnership with other leaders in a variety of healthcare professions.

Below, we discuss some of the ways that nurses can prepare to take on this role.

Developing Insights into Leadership Techniques and Attributes

Taking up this exciting challenge, or simply fulfilling your own personal career goals, starts with creating a clear understanding of the differences between managers and leaders.

There is a great deal of information available on the attributes of successful leadership, and it makes sense to thoroughly research the different styles of modern healthcare leaders.

When you look at the leadership skills that can land you a job, some may sound like characteristics that you are born with. However, to prepare for this sort of promotion or new job role, it is completely possible to hone and enhance the soft skills that make successful leaders.

This includes organizational and critical thinking abilities, as well as emotional intelligence.

You will need emotional intelligence to support your team and its individual members to achieve their business and personal goals. This involves being alert to other people’s emotional and mental status and taking a holistic approach with colleagues and other professional associates, not just patients.

A lot of this comes down to a word commonly attached to nursing as a profession — empathy.

Improving Your Emotional Intelligence

This is something that can be achieved during the training phase of your nursing career, but also by exploring your own reactions and responses to different situations.

It is also important to practice being acutely observant, and immersing yourself in the dynamics of any teams of people you engage with. It does not have to be confined to work teams either, as you can remain alert to interactions among any group of people.

Find opportunities to mentor and coach others too. It is amazing how much you learn about yourself as you help others move forward positively.

Boosting Your Communication Skills

To be an effective leader in healthcare, you will also require excellent communication skills and the ability to listen in a constructive and positive manner. This is also something you can practice in many aspects of your life, but especially during interactions in your workplace.

Constructive listening includes the ability to recognize and respond to body language and other non-verbal cues, such as tone of voice. You also need to be responsive and adaptive to the questions you ask, to gather all the information you need.

These are all things you can practice as preparation for a leadership role.

Another core communication ability you will need is to be able to explain things to others clearly, succinctly and in a way that informs, motivates, inspires, and influences them. This suggests that taking presentation skills training can be an asset for a career in nurse leadership.

Optimizing Work Experience and Training

Nurses with strong leadership abilities are intuitive in how they build good relationships with their patients, colleagues, and representatives of external agencies. Including creating a bond with patients that makes them more likely to be honest and understanding in the information they provide.

This links with attributes often described as the two central pillars of ‘social judgment’, which are competence and warmth. Nurses who are leaders certainly need to be able to demonstrate both in their relationship-building.

Warmth will be explored later, but you will find excellent opportunities to develop your technical competence during your training to qualify as a nurse. You can further enhance this through internships and work placements that offer opportunities to interact with a wide range of colleagues and patients.

It is recommended that you optimize every practical experience and placement to develop your technical and soft skills. Especially those linked to your qualification route.

You can acquire an especially strong set of professional and personal skills if you choose to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) qualification program.

A DNP in Leadership can even be earned online, allowing you to continue with your existing nursing job. Reputable institutions such as Baylor University offer this program with 100% online coursework. Students have the opportunity to fully explore vital topics such as influential leadership, transformative care models and data-driven business strategy.

It is also important to acknowledge the value of continuous professional development as a nurse, and to read as much as possible and make time to research emerging healthcare trends, new techniques and technology.

Developing ‘warmth’ as a Leader

Lastly, you should seek out opportunities to develop and demonstrate your ‘warmth’ to prepare for promotion to leadership and achieve success in that role.

Some of the preparation techniques mentioned above can help with this, including becoming more aware of the needs, motivations and barriers that other people in your team have, and then addressing those with empathy.

One great way to work on this is to widen your circle of influence at every opportunity and network with lots of different people. This could include healthcare-related networking opportunities or getting involved in other forms of committees and representative bodies.

Your ability to bring warmth to your relationships as a leader will also grow as your confidence in your nursing technical abilities and knowledge grows. This will also make you a better decision-maker and problem-solver.

SEE ALSO: What is Career Management?

Why Do Digital Decluttering Before Entering a Job Market?

Why Do Digital Decluttering Before Entering a Job Market?

For graduates, the job application process is challenging and time-consuming. Unlike the experienced seekers who know who is who on the market, yesterday’s students take multiple steps on their way to a dream job in software development.

Gathering all the accomplishments in a resume, psychometric testing, video interviews, and doing some test assignments — these are just a few steps to overcome. Another tiny detail most young specialists forget when looking for their first job is the need for digital decluttering.

Let’s face it, our digital presence has never been more substantial. We do everything online today: learning, shopping, communicating, looking for a job, etc. Every action leaves its mark, known as digital footprint recruiters check to dig deeper into a candidate’s background.

The minimum they can do is to google your name and look through your social media profiles. How you behave and the information you leave online can tell a lot about your personality and suitability for a job. Why bother, and how to manage your digital footprint so it doesn’t ruin your job prospects and future career?

Why Bother

Up to 80% of employers consider checking a candidate’s online presence a part of the assessment. The information you write — social media posts, photos, comments, or any other content — might hinder your chances of getting a job.

By researching your digital footprint, recruiters try to understand if your online presence reflects their brand’s values. They check if you build a personal brand to differentiate yourself from others in your field. Your social media accounts help to view you as a person: interests, stories you share, tone of voice you use to attract the audience, lifestyle choices, etc.

“In the age of AI, individuals harness the power of automation to craft online messages that sculpt their digital personas, forging reputations in the algorithmic gaze. It makes genuine personality traits as critical for employers as your professional skills and job experience.” 

– Hugh Beaulac, Developer, EasyEssay.

Speaking out opinions you’d keep private in offline life can also influence your chances of success. The problem is most users know nothing about digital literacy and etiquette, considering the internet a place where it’s okay to show and tell crap with no accountability or consequences. They feel free to write abusive comments, demonstrate polarized views, share pictures of excessive partying, reveal their addiction issues, etc.

All this adds up to one immense portrait of yours for a potential employer, thus building your online reputation and overall impression of who you are.

Even if your social media profiles are private, it doesn’t mean a recruiter or your current employer can’t see what you write online. The comments you leave on random websites are available. Plus, there’s a practice to perform social media screenings to reveal a candidate’s personality.

It works the same with education facilities doing background checks to see if applicants fit their college. Any mentions of academic integrity violations, provocative deeds, or controversial behavior might lead to denying your application.

Not filtering your online voice can unintentionally leak sensitive information — colleagues’ personal details, trade secrets, intellectual property, etc. — that can be a security risk or lead to your company’s reputation and client trust loss. No wonder recruiters bother about it while still considering your job application.

Decluttering Your Digital Footprint

Say most graduates understand the importance of a positive online presence in their future careers. The question remains: How can you declutter all the outdated and controversial information that is able to ruin your job prospects?

First, it’s not simple to recall your entire digital footprint. Do you remember what you’ve posted and commented on across multiple channels over many years? Even if so, it’s impossible to erase everything, especially from third-party websites you have no right to moderate.

Second, you can’t foresee the conclusions others might make about a particular piece of information. How do you know which one to delete and which is okay to leave?

Some might want to go all-in and delete social media accounts, which is not a wise decision as online visibility equals legitimacy today. Online presence and reputation work like a resume: It presents your identity to the world, and there’s a fine line between the need to be visible and protecting your safety.

That’s what you can do to declutter their online presence before entering a job market:

  • Google your name, or ask friends to do that for you and share the results. Check the findings and remove the outdated or controversial content about you (if you can). If featured by others, you can ask them to remove it or request Google to do that.
  • Untag yourself wherever possible.
  • Delete outdated accounts but work on existing ones.
  • Keep personal affairs separate: Create a new email account for professional communication.
  • Remember about digital privacy and do your best to maintain it: Use unique passwords, manage cookies, check if the websites you visit are secure, etc. Secure your network, and don’t use public ones.
  • Limit the personal information you share online. Ask yourself, “Does the world really need to know this about me? What does this information tell about me?” Don’t share data that might help strangers identify you.
  • Think twice before you hit “Send:” Never write posts when you’re angry or frustrated, and make self-censorship a habit preventing you from potentially controversial statements.

Technology is evolving and improving, becoming an integral part of our lives. We do everything online today: learning, shopping, falling in love, building careers, and more. A digital footprint is significant, and it can make us both win or lose. To reduce its negative impact and possible harm, let’s be digitally literate, declutter our online environment, and stay mindful about what we send to the universe via the internet.

SEE ALSO: Six Routes to Widening Your Skill Set When in the Job Search Process

Navigating Adulthood: Essential Steps for College Students

Navigating Adulthood: Essential Steps for College Students

Adulthood is an entirely different experience than the one you’ve had as a college student. More responsibility is just the beginning of what you can expect when you’re fully immersed in your adult life. This alone can make you reluctant to embrace what’s to come.

Fortunately, with the proper preparation, knowledge, and skills, you can graduate and move into adulthood seamlessly. You’ll be equipped with what you need to thrive in this next stage of your life, making the shift to being an adult more enjoyable than it is daunting.

Take these steps to help set yourself up for a smooth transition into adulthood.

Set Goals for the Future

Hopefully, you’ve been thinking about what you want your life to look like after graduation. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to take your vision for the future out of your head and get it onto paper.

Setting detailed goals for the future helps you establish a solid foundation for adulthood. When you know where you’re going, you can create a practical plan to get there. Also, research shows that you’re more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down.

Document goals that support your vision for your adult life. For example, let’s say you’re going to school to become a licensed therapist. One of your goals could be to operate your own practice within 10 years after graduation.

You can take this goal a step further and put together a step-by-step plan to achieve it. There’s a lot involved in becoming an owner of a therapy practice, like deciding on a business structure, finding a building, determining your method of compensation, and crafting a marketing strategy.

However, when you break all of these elements down into digestible steps, achieving this big goal becomes more realistic.

Plan the Next Steps in Your Career

You may have been able to get by on financial aid or a work-study position while in college. But you’ll need a much more reliable source of income in adulthood to live independently and comfortably. So, solidifying the next steps in your career before you graduate is a must.

The ideal situation would be having a job waiting for you once you get your degree. It’ll take some finesse to make this happen. But it’s doable.

Start with networking. Join professional organizations in the industry you want to work in that are tailored to young up-and-coming professionals. Meet people at conferences and events on campus. Network with your professors and fellow students as well to see what opportunities they can introduce you to.

We also want to acknowledge that a lot of students won’t land a job before they graduate. And many already have jobs that don’t align with their degree to make ends meet while they work toward their dream careers.

In either case, it’s still important to take some time to hammer down the next best step in your career after you graduate.

Improve Your Financial Literacy

The National Financial Educators Council analyzed financial literacy statistics in a recent article, and one in particular stood out. “54% of millennials expressed worry that they would not be able to pay back student loans.”

Because of the increased use of student loans, it’s even more important for graduates to gain a sense of financial literacy to pay off these loans and still lead a successful career.

In addition, understanding the ins and outs of financial management now will set you up for financial security in the future. The pillars of financial literacy are:

  • Budgeting and tracking your daily spending;
  • Investing wisely;
  • Establishing an emergency fund;
  • Paying down debt efficiently;
  • Saving for retirement;
  • Tracking your credit history and score.

Developing discipline in each of these aspects of money management is the difference between living comfortably or living with financial insecurities.

Start by creating a budget you can stick to. Determine how much you’re bringing in each month and what you’re expenses are. Anything left over after paying your bills should go toward paying down your debt, your emergency fund, and/or retirement.

Mastering budgeting seems to unlock the rest of the financial benefits people long for. So, this is a great beginning point in your financial literacy journey.

Make Your Holistic Health a Priority

If you’ve become accustomed to an unhealthy diet or put off working out and taking care of your mental health while in college, you wouldn’t be the first student to do so. Grinding for your degree seems so much more important.

But the truth is, neglecting your holistic health does you more harm than good, especially if you’re faced with the challenge of the final years of your college career. When you don’t prioritize eating well, exercising regularly, and taking care of your mind, you can’t bring your best to school, let alone life.

On the contrary, if you do prioritize these things, here’s what follows:

  • More energy;
  • Better decision-making;
  • Increased productivity;
  • Higher self-esteem and confidence;
  • Stronger joints, bones, and muscles;
  • Better functioning immune system and internal organs;
  • Reduced risk for chronic mental and physical health conditions.

You have a much better chance of flourishing in adulthood with the above outcomes than without them. So, make sure you’re positioned to make your holistic health a priority.

If you haven’t yet, sign up for health insurance. Take your time understanding the intricacies of health insurance plans, including definitions for common health insurance terms, types of plans available to you, and what services are covered. You’ll make a more informed decision this way.

Once you get your health insurance squared away, make an appointment with a primary care physician. They can tell you the state of your health and help you develop a plan for improving it that includes a personalized nutrition and exercise program.

Final Thoughts

Although adulthood is a new territory for you, it’s nothing to be afraid of. Use the advice in this article to confidently step into your adult life with the mindset and skills you need to flourish.

SEE ALSO: Six Routes to Widening Your Skill Set When in the Job Search Process