In 2009, Emily Emma, then a newly graduated RN, was recruited into the transition-to-practice program at Mather Hospital. From the moment I met her, I sensed her love for nursing and her high engagement, and I quickly recognized her as an aspiring visionary leader. Emily progressed during her first year, demonstrating excellence and leadership in patient care. She was recognized and acknowledged by her leaders and peers as rookie of the year among all nurses at Mather Hospital.
Emily became actively involved in nursing committees. She worked closely with me in the role of nurse magnetizer to assist in educating the staff in our initial Magnet® recognition process. In June 2016, when our organization submitted our Magnet redesignation document, several of the exemplars were from Emily's leadership and staff involvement in unit decision-making that resulted in practice changes. Emily is a member of our Magnet steering committee and was actively involved in writing and disseminating the Magnet document.
Emily was eventually promoted to charge nurse and assumed more leadership responsibilities, such as leading committees and nursing councils. She soon advanced to an assistant nurse manager role on an orthopedic-telemetry unit, which was one of the lowest performing units in the organization. Emily eagerly sought mentoring to improve the unit's performance and worked diligently to engage the staff and transform the work environment through positive influences within her unit.
Emily has an innate ability to connect with nurses of all generations, but she has a particularly strong connection with our new generation of nurses. She's one of them, and she understands their wants and needs. Millennials are eager to be involved in decision-making, are highly technology connected, and tend to seek promotional opportunities rather than stay in one position.
As for the older generational nurses, she was successful in engaging them as well. She assisted them in adapting to new technology and seeking advanced degrees and board certification. She reviewed the literature and participated in professional nursing organizations to seek and implement creative strategies to empower her staff to participate in unit-based and organizational decision-making to improve professional practice, nurse satisfaction, patient safety, quality, and professional development. Within 6 months, the unit outcomes began to improve.
Emily's leadership abilities progressed, and she soon assumed the nurse manager role. Within 1 year of her appointment, her unit demonstrated the lowest turnover rate among RNs. This can be attributed to Emily's staff satisfaction and engagement with her leadership style. She continued to implement innovations and evidence-based practices.
Emily worked with her unit council to develop a comprehensive process to educate patients and families about their new medications. She combined the concepts of ambulation and education, providing the patient education board with medication information, which patients and their families could learn about as they ambulated several times a day. She called it “know your meds as you go.” This innovation significantly increased patient satisfaction scores for medication education.
In March 2018, the nurse manager of our progressive care unit had to leave abruptly due to a personal issue. This higher acuity unit was showing declining outcomes and low staff engagement. The unit was staffed with a larger percentage of millennial nurses, and I was confident that Emily would be able to connect with them. I asked her to assume the nurse manager role on this unit, but she was ambivalent due to the accomplishments of her orthopedic-telemetry unit and her admiration of her staff. However, she recognized the leadership need and challenge. Together, we strategized on how to transition the staff over to her leadership. The unit has already demonstrated positive outcomes and staff engagement since Emily's arrival.
Emily received her DNP in May 2017. She's an intelligent young woman and a rising nurse leader who'll one day assume a CNO role. Not only does she demonstrate strong leadership attributes, she possesses altruism. She truly exhibits caring for patients, their families, and her staff, and a love for nursing. Emily is an authentic nurse leader—honest, optimistic, confident, resilient, caring, and possessing high moral character. Authentic leaders demonstrate self-awareness, have a vision, and make balanced decisions. Emily truly models these attributes. Therefore, I highly recommend and nominate her to be considered and recognized as a visionary leader.