Positioned For Leadership: A Tool For Professional Relevance In Nursing

Nursing leaders in the health care environment need to understand the influence of various leadership styles on nurses. Leadership styles may impact the overall discipline of nursing.
Eze Victor Obinna, RN (Author Of Positioned For Leadership)
Nursing leaders who are able to inspire, engage, and positively influence nurses at various levels can help change nursing attitudes,  behaviours and make an impact on job and career satisfaction, engagement, improved quality care and patient outcomes.
Consequently, alternate styles of leadership, such as abusive leadership styles, creating, supporting or being indifferent about  conditions that  could be detrimental to nursing practice or to nurses who are starting their careers can make it feel like hell practicing nursing.
Leadership skills encompassing bempowerment and authentic leadership can impact a nurses behaviors and professional interactions. These attitudes and behaviours would not only shape the discipline, but will impact the care provided to patients and families.
The discipline of nursing in Nigeria has struggled with a lack of professional identity. In addition, there is a lack of research on professionalism and professional identity of nursing in Nigeria.
Nursing behaviors can impact overall professionalism; both formal curriculum changes, as well as strategic leadership styles, can help enhance and influence a nurses sense of professionalism and professional identity.
When I say Nursing leaders; not just only your director of nursing service, CNO, NMCN registrar, NANNM national and state presidents. I dont mean those occupying a leadership position in our professional or regulatory associations, I mean all of us,  you!!
Yes, every registered professional nurse was trained to be a leader.  So, once you start looking for where our challenges are coming from, re-evaluate yourself first.

Professionalism in nursing encompasses many elements. Some of these elements are;
¶ Competence
¶ Accountability
¶ Credibilty
¶ Trust
¶ Truthfulness and
¶ Responsibility

This is why professionalism and the way Registered Nurses present themselves are so crucial to the well being of patients. A Registered Nurse lacking responsibility, competence, and credibility in knowledge is likely to not contribute much to the recovery stage of a patient.
The 6 elements above are arguable core leadership qualities.
Registered Nurses are one of the key contributors to todays health care industry. They are the ones who provide around the clock bedside care, administer medications, provide psychiatric mental comforts, and are probably the people you see the most during a hospital stay. We all are aware of these facts.
This is why Registered Nurses go through gruesome educational training, and are held with high expectations from other health care team members, physicians, caregivers, and most importantly, the patient and their relatives.
For us to continue being relevant in the health care sector, we must continue to embrace our professional responsibilities and etiquette.
True leadership is found in service to humanity, a true leadership style is leadership that depicts service and not just occupying a position that entitles you to command respect not because you have the qualities of a charismatic leader, but because of the position you occupy.

Above all, we must develop a mindset that while dedicating much of our life to serving others, we shouldnt let other players in the health care sector determine our fate, We have given them so much leverage to do that; its time for a change!!
We should also be there in the board room making decisions to attain professional relevance in our field,and also embrace the media, internet, web or social media platform to reorientate the public about nursing, its values, core mission and misconception. This is what leadership as a tool for professionalism entails; it involves even the obscurest professional nurse practicing in a community health center standing out as a nurse leader, advocate, manager and care giver.
Leadership in nursing shouldnt  be about the very insignificant few who occupies insignificant (pardon my language)  positions in the health care sector and society  but the individual disposition of every professional nurse towards nursing practice and our professional growth (lets be selfish be here, we are the major stakeholders in the health care sector for God’s sake).
The last time I planned featuring on a radio program during the international nurses week,  I was already booked to feature in Today fm and Treasure Fm PH, I contacted some key nursing leaders in Rivers state chapter to join me as guests to the radio station and after two weeks, I was later informed that they couldnt make it with reason that they must obtain permission from the director of nursing service rivers state before they could feature on air as nurses or on behalf of nurses.
My team tried reaching out to some registered nurses in UPTH, we were turned down as they preferred celebrating the day with their colleagues in the hospital rather than showing up in any public platform to talk about nursing.
Thats why we have a whole lot of misconception about nurses in Nigeria. I later featured with two of my colleagues who attended my school; that event proved to me that we had a leadership problem where no one wants to be accountable.
How does possessing effective leadership skills and qualities listed above  help to enhance better health care delivery outcome?
In any healthcare setting, Trust is extremely important in building rapport.
Credibility is having the quality of being trusted and believed in.
Having an abundance of knowledge builds your credibility.
With credibility, a Registered Nurse could do their tasks successfully and efficiently, which makes them competent.

Competency is an expected level of performance that integrates knowledge, skills, abilities, and judgment.
Naturally, having credibility and competence would make a Registered Nurse a responsible person, which means they are accountable.

Being accountable is what leadership entails- accountable to patients health outcome, accountable to health care resource utility, accountable to the outcome of interventions made by other health care providers, accountable to everything in and outside the health care sector.
What makes a Registered Nurse a professional?
Effective leadership does!! Leadership is about being accountable!!
A nurse is a professional when he/she maintains accountability for their work, develop good clinical -judgment, strengthens leadership competence, establish high ethical standards, refine therapeutic communication, and educate the public about health issues (we must learn to use the media and social media platforms).
Professionalism in nursing will always be an integral role in what makes a good nurse a professional.
How do we embrace leadership?
The competition and struggle for supremacy amongst Nurses is hindering progress in the profession, nevertheless, possessing core leadership skills is a crucial complement to clinical practice.
Nurses are in a unique position to not only provide bedside care but also to advocate for change within the leadership arena and the community at large.

Every nursing professional should know how to participate in a healthy democracy and engage in change at a political level. Many nursing professionals today have a clear focus and understanding of individual health, but most have not been exposed to their role of advocacy and the political agenda in the nursing profession and society at large.
One of the goals of this session is to encourage registered nurses to think about the influence that health professionals, especially Registered Nurses, can have as key leaders and influencers, not just in the health care sector but in our Nation, with the hope that professional nurses will have an increased understanding of being engaged in political discussions and feel comfortable to engage in politics at the local, state and federal levels in the future, which will serve as a light that the next generation of professional nurses would uphold to stop the marginalization of nurses in the health care sector and the society at large.
But before we continue with the discourse, lets ask ourselves these questions;
* Where are the nurses in the decision-making processes of government? Government is even too far; where are the nurses in the decision making board of our community/rural based health centers?
* Where is the evidence that they are doing things right or are being listened to?
* Why are there so few nurses visible in the political arena, either in appointed or electoral positions?
* Why is it that when nurses are at the core of healthcare delivery, their contribution to policy development and decision-making are marginalised or at best often ignored?
* Why do politicians always describe nursing as a profession not worthy of delving into the political arena, evidenced by the event of a Nigerian Nurse and politician who was denied a political appointment by the Senate because he was a Nurse?And why do we let them?
Regardless of the multiple factors limiting the nursing professions potential impact on politics, the fact remains that nurses have vital role to play in the development and implementation of healthcare policy. 
As the largest medical profession in the world, nurses should be leading the way in redesigning the healthcare system. But in order to do so, they will need to partner with members of other medical professions. For this to happen, nurses must be skilled in patient care as well as in interdisciplinary teamwork, informatics, politics and technology, implementing evidenced-based practice and quality improvement.
All too often, nurses become frustrated by policies affecting nursing practice, particularly when those policies are written by individuals with limited healthcare knowledge and experience. This frustration often leads to negativity, disillusionment, bitterness, and burn-out.
Instead, nurses should channel their frustrations into making a positive difference in their profession. As nurses, we need to think of policy as something we can influence, not just something that happens to us.
The truth is, any nurse can influence policy and politics at the local, state, and federal levels. Locally, nurses can become politically active by assuming leadership positions in the healthcare system or contacting elected officials about legislation affecting the industry. Nurses can obtain formal training in politics, become involved in state councils and committees, or even run for local office. And something as simple as exercising the right to vote can impact healthcare policy.

At the state and federal level, nurses can get involved in policy and politics by joining a professional nursing organization. These organizations often have lobbyists that bring nursing issues to the federal law making chambers such as the senate.
Nurses can also write their state representatives regarding healthcare policy. Nurses can undertake internships with elected officials to personally work on matters affecting healthcare.
And nurses can even run for state offices!!!
Nurses need to participate actively in policy making in order to effect change; Nursing advocates, professionals, organizations and educational experts need to encourage political activism.
Nurses and Student Nurses participation in policy and politics is being affected by several factors such as Lack of awareness, inadequate skills, and little opportunity for involvement, which are just a few factors.
Another barrier is the limited formal health care policy education in nursing. Time and resources are further obstacles to the nursing professions participation in politics. Additionally, studies show that nurses are not given sufficient support to generate the evidence needed to influence healthcare policy.
Nursing schools need to include healthcare policy education as part of the curriculum, as well as encourage some level of political involvement from nursing students.
Furthermore, the faculty of nursing schools should also participate in policy changes, thereby acting as role models for their students.

Finally, employers need to provide staff nurses with the time, resources, and opportunities to influence local, state and federal policy. After all, healthcare legislation ultimately affects us all.
Preparing professional nurses for community-based practice involving political activism and civic engagement requires developing and sustaining a philosophy that supports service learning and community partnerships.

The concepts of service, community, collaboration, empowerment, and political activism are essential foundations. These ideas are inherent in educationally preparing nurses to meet the healthcare needs of individuals and communities.
Many nursing students, as well as practicing nurses seem either intimidated by or uninterested in the political aspects of professional nursing practice. If nurses dont stand up for issues that are important to them, those with competing interests in healthcare may be the only ones whose voices are heard.
By joining their voices together, Nigerian nurses can influence the policy and politics that affect healthcare.
Marquis and Huston define politics as the art of using legitimate power wisely.
The nursing profession has significant power to profoundly impact healthcare policy on a global scale.
Additionally, the nurses of today are younger, more educated, and more diverse; they are forming movements like Fellow Nurses Africa,  Nursing world Nigeria, Nurses on Air, Lead Nurse Africa, Nursing Revolution etc.
They bring more energy, more ideas, and more ingenuity to the nursing profession. Perhaps they will even bring more political activism.
Yes, they can!!
The best time to get involved in political activism is now, we can only get better and grow stronger as a professional body once we recognize, appreciate and committed to the role each and every one of us have to play to lift us high up to the pinnacle of political excellence.
Yes, we can!!
I’m Eze Victor Obinna, Nursing is my profession, our profession and we can only make progress once we decide to utilize the tool of personal and  professional development.
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