Three KILN Undergraduate Research Fellows (UGRF) from the CSON Class of 2015 presented their work at the September 2014 Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Leadership Connection conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Taylor Fischer, Patience Marks, and Savita Sukha represented Boston College as “rising stars” and took advantage of the opportunity to network with nurse leaders from around the world.
By Taylor Fischer
I am so blessed to have attended the Sigma Theta Tau International Leadership Connection conference on September 24-27 thanks to KILN and the Price Family Foundation. I gained valuable experience presenting the research I have done with my UGRF professor, Tam Nguyen, as well as attending the various presentations and break-out sessions that the conference offered. I met many inspiring individuals and felt absolutely empowered to be both a future nurse AND a leader. One of the best things about this conference was that they offered a ‘Career Center’ session where one could sign up to get career advice from a seasoned nursing leader. As a current nursing senior, I immediately signed up because I am torn about what to do after graduation. I am debating between applying to graduate programs, residency programs, or going straight into the workforce. Also, I am not sure whether I want to stay in Boston, or look elsewhere. So with all these uncertainties, I was paired with Dr. Joan Roache, an Associate Clinical Professor at UMASS-Amherst, who gladly listened to my career goals and aspirations and offered various suggestions on how to achieve them. She explained several processes of how nurses get their PhDs, DNPS, and masters and the different routes that one could take. She also gave me advice for which graduate school programs focused on certain research topics. For example, she told me that University of Pennsylvania’s PhD program does a lot of research on organizational systems, the broad scope of work flow processes, and improving patient outcomes from the top down. This was very intriguing to me because I have worked on efficiency and work flow in various hospital units so I could see myself pursuing this area of research if given the opportunity. Also, she encouraged me to go after my wildest dreams, because there should not be anything holding me back. To hear this nursing leader tell me that I have so much going for me, and that I have much to offer anywhere I will apply to, was both comforting and incredibly honoring. When I entered my appointment, I felt anxious and overwhelmed, but I left feeling renewed and excited to have so many possibilities in front of me!
By attending this conference, I am now confident in applying to all the places that my heart desires and pursuing my interests without fear of being too overzealous. Also, just being in the STTI atmosphere surrounded by such accomplished nurses really made me realize how lucky I am to be entering this profession. It is encouraging to know I have the opportunity to make a difference in my career but also as a person. I felt humbled that nursing leaders wanted to hear about the research I am currently doing at BC and that they regarded me as an equal: a person excited about research, leadership, and the dissemination of knowledge for the good of our profession. Furthermore, I felt at home because I was surrounded by people who are leaders pursuing their dreams and wanting to help others achieve their own, which is the best atmosphere one could ever wish for.
By Patience Marks
One of the most valuable and important things I learned from the Sigma Theta Tau International Leadership Connection conference was the information about adaptive leadership. The presenter spoke about what it means to be an adaptive leader, focusing on the essence of being able to change and deal with changes as a leader. This resonated with me the most because as a rising leader amongst my peers, I have experienced situations that were out of my control and beyond my ability to handle. However, with the concept of adaptive leadership, I have learned the importance of adapting to unexpected changes and seizing them as opportunities in order to succeed. Lastly, I learned the key concept of resilience from adaptive leadership, which is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations. I learned to “keep flying the plane despite the turbulence.”
By Savita Sukha
Attending the Sigma Theta Tau International’s Leadership Connection 2014 was one of the best experiences I have had during my undergraduate career. The conference was a huge growing experience for me as a future nursing professional because it provided new interpretations of what it means to be a nursing leader. For example, the “Models of Leadership: A Panel Discussion” provided a great overview of the different models of leadership. Karlene M. Kerfoot, PhD, RN, CNAA, FAAN described the Transformation Leadership style, which includes the belief that a leader should have the trust of followers and empower those followers by allowing them to work by themselves. Carolyn Miller, MS explained the K/P Leadership style, which describes a leader who is honest, inspiring, future-oriented, and credible. K/P leaders know what they stand for, match their actions with their values, inspire others, challenge the process and make improvements, build other people’s competencies, and recognize other people’s contributions. Marjorie A. Maurer, MSN, RN, NEA-BC described the Servant Leadership style which involves a leader who has the personal drive to serve others first. Kenneth W. Dion, PhD, MSN, MBA, RN described the Situational/Adaptive Leadership style which encourages leaders to live without predictability and focus less on routine and more on opportunity. Overall, the panel discussion augmented my understanding of various leadership styles and made me think about what kind of leader I want to be. I intend to embrace key characteristics of those leadership styles in my own practice.
My professional growth as a leader was further augmented by attending the presentation by Susan B. Jeska, RN, MBA, EdD, called “Building the Nurse Executive Pipeline.” As part of the presentation, she emphasized the challenges many nurses face, such as the lack of visibility to be considered full partners and the lack of consideration for important roles in advancing health. Hearing the presentation strengthened my determination to become a nursing leader and diminish the challenges nurses face. On a similar note, Jothi Clara Micheal, MScN, RN, RM, PhDN, MBA (HA) was particularly inspiring. When I received a chance to talk to Dr. Micheal in person during a break in presentations, she brought up a point that provoked my interest. She emphasized how nurses should aspire to become leaders, not nursing leaders. By this she means that nurses should strive to obtain a leadership role among different facets of healthcare and not only limit themselves to the field of nursing. Hearing this point from Dr. Micheal was very encouraging and changed my idea of what a nursing leader means. Overall, attending the conference made me feel empowered through the wonderful experience of presenting research, networking with inspiring nursing leaders, and learning more about the essence of being a true nursing leader.