There are as many definitions of what leadership means as there are leaders in this world. You can earn an entire college degree on leadership and still wonder whether you actually know what it is exactly. Leadership is one of those things we recognize when we see it and we sure know when it is missing, but what about all that in between?
How often do you stop and reflect on your own leadership skills? How do you get things done? What about your trauma program? Who are your leaders and champions? How do you make changes in your program and why do you make them? Do you have trouble changing things from the way they are to the way you wish they were?
Trauma nurses are all kinds of leaders. Maybe we have a fancy title and lots of responsibility or maybe we are the nurse who takes care of the patient and family with no special title. Regardless of our role, we are all important. Trauma care is a team sport but, like any team, takes it cues and develops its action plan from the leader and the culture that emanates from those in charge. We have all been there, right? Our entire attitude can change on the basis of the atmosphere and culture of the organization, unit, or people with whom we spend our time.
Trauma nursing is a challenging but rewarding career choice. Yes, trauma nursing is a career choice for most of us; it is not just a job or a paycheck. Who would get up every day to do what we all do if it was not a calling—a heartfelt passion to make a difference every day across the continuum of trauma care? We get out of bed each day and make a difference in a big or small way. And, you do—each and every day you make a difference in the lives of others.
So, how do we learn to be leaders? We can take classes. That works. We can learn from others—what they do right and what mistakes they have made. We learn from our successes and our mistakes. One really great and effective way to learn our trauma role is through mentoring. The Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) has a new mentoring program for trauma program managers. Maybe you are new and are not sure where or how to start. Maybe you are experienced, but there are changes that are challenging to you. Mentoring can take on many different roles and can be effective throughout your career. For more information on the STN mentoring program, visit www.traumanurses.org to find out more.
The STN is also very excited about its leadership institute, which is scheduled to go on-line in the near future. The STN offers many different courses to assist in trauma system development, and these courses include ATCN, TOPIC, and OPTIMAL. You can find out more about these classes on the STN website as well.
The STN has entered into collaboration with the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing to study the feasibility of the development of a trauma nurse certification. The review of your interest and feasibility in this certification continues. This is an exciting time for trauma nurses. We are finally ready to tell the world that we are a specialized team of nurses—that we have skills, knowledge, and a passion that sets us apart from other nursing colleagues and we want you to know it. Watch the STN website for more information as this project moves forward.
Finally, the STN is working with the American Trauma Society and a variety of partners to develop an injury prevention class. The curriculum is set, but we are in need of curriculum writers to get the course moving. If you or a colleague has the public health expertise to write curriculum content, please contact Karen Macauley through the STN website Board contacts. This is an important project for the STN to bring more leadership information to the continuum of trauma care expertise.
Visit the STN website for information on our special interest groups, e-library, prevention programs including SLIP, and new news within the trauma world. Do not forget to mark your calendars for the STN annual meeting that will be held in beautiful New Orleans, April 2 to 4, 2014, and the EAST conference in Naples, Florida, January 14 to 18, 2014. These many STN opportunities will offer you the chance to build and enhance your trauma leadership skills, no matter what your role or title.