Leadership Development: Building a Nursing Legacy

Monday, 30 October 2017: 1:55 PM

Evelyn R. Hayes, PhD
School of Nursing, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA


Legacy can be described in a variety of ways including what one leaves behind and gives to those who follow. Sherman (2016) defines legacy as “...an investment in those who will carry the work on” (para. 1). Every interaction with friends, colleagues, students and patients provides an opportunity to build legacy. Everything a person contributes to the nursing profession helps to create an avenue for others to follow. The legacy one leaves behind helps pave the way forward impacting health locally and globally (Steinert & Macdonald, 2015). Legacies grow when there is a commitment to passion and a spirit of self-giving. Newton and Jones (2016) found that legacy can provide a purposeful insight into cultural differences. It’s important for members to understand that every action has an impact on the future of nursing, even if it seems inconsequential at the time.

Supporting Legacy Building

The local chapter has a long-standing history of embracing service and legacy building as a core strategic value. Service initiatives respond to the needs of vulnerable populations both locally and globally. The outreach endeavors are coordinated by and include a variety of members and potential members. Members have formed strategic alliances with numerous community agencies to conduct these efforts, which help publicize the unique contributions of STTI. In addition, the chapter maintains a vibrant Service and Outreach Committee which supports these efforts through a variety of fundraising activities. The ability to maintain a vibrant service outreach orientation that responds to the needs of vulnerable populations locally, regionally, and internationally, is directly related to the passion, dedication, and enthusiasm of our members and reflects the capacity for legacy building. A strong foundation of the chapter is continued dedication to involvement and outreach initiatives for nurses as demonstrated by member collaboration and networking locally, regionally, and globally. The chapter demonstrates strong leadership qualities and is committed to the mission and goals of STTI.

The chapter holds an annual Membership Appreciation night to celebrate active, inactive and potential members. The opportunity to newly form and reignite collaborative relationships, offer appreciation, and embrace the spirit of giving is cultivated in this informal gathering. For the past several years, the chapter has collaborated with the University’s Nursing Alumni Network to bring together former graduates, chapter members and promote munificence. One past president started a new journey for the chapter in recognizing and renewing living legacy. Creative writings on individual thoughts, feelings and vision for the future of the chapter, STTI and the nursing profession were collected. Individuals were encouraged to think about what their legacy would be and were then challenged to actively participate and live that journey.

The chapter reaches out to other chapters across STTI networks and creates collaborative initiatives by networking at conventions and conferences in an effort to develop novice leaders. The chapter is actively involved with two local Consortiums, and attends the Leadership Connection Conference biannually. The chapter joined the region by serving on the planning committee to develop the annual conferences. STTI Leadership Connection Conference has been attended by four members over the last few years in an effort to enhance professional and chapter leadership goals. The chapter acknowledges with pride that several chapter members who participated at the Leadership Connection Conference have presented at this conference and served in elected positions at the international, regional, and local levels of STTI.

The local chapter also cultivates future leaders and ensures an active sustainable chapter through informal and formal mentoring. Mentoring fosters professional and personal growth and development, which is an essential piece to shape leaders in nursing. The chapter developed a Leadership Intern Program as a formal mentoring process that is mutually beneficial to the mentors, mentees, and the chapter. Potential interns must complete the application process including identifying goals and how this experience will impact the future. The Leadership Intern Program is monitored by the Leadership Succession committee. The chapter uses various mentoring modalities including face-to-face contact, emails, social networking, and telephone.

Innate to the culture of this STTI chapter is the spirit of giving and promoting philanthropy through promoting legacy building in all chapter initiatives. The desire to promote the welfare of others is expressed through fundraising and monetary donations in local communities as well as celebrating member successes while remaining socially conscience of global needs. The chapter is committed to demonstrating altruistic and compassionate values in the chapter, community and global initiatives. The nursing profession can benefit from philanthropy to advance the health of the nation (Judge, 2014). Maloney (2014) describes an intersection between nursing and charitable giving beyond financial donations. Philanthropy is an important aspect of legacy building and leadership development.

Future Implications for Legacy Building

Building a Legacy provides strategies and understanding for how a Legacy model helps create the future nursing path forward (Lange, Zahourek, & Mariano, 2014). The chapter is designing a descriptive qualitative study that will be conducted in 2017. This study will be a continuation of data collected between 2014 to 2016 at chapter events. For example, one of these events celebrates active, inactive and potential members. This is a unique opportunity to newly form and reignite collaborative relationships and offer appreciation. Furthermore, embracing the spirit of giving is cultivated in this informal gathering.

Nurses (members and non-members) who attended these chapter events were asked to anonymously respond to four open-ended questions related to legacy building and leadership development: Describe your most memorable moment in nursing? What changes do you expect in nursing profession? What do you believe are the most important qualities of nurse? What thoughts would you like to share with novice, graduating nurse? In 2016, the open-ended questions focused on global health, but the root of the previous questions remained the same. In honor of the chapter’s 40th anniversary, attendees were asked to share the legacy they created since beginning their nursing careers by responding to the following questions: What positive impact have you made on the nursing profession? What contributions have you made to the Chapter since you were initiated? If you could share any advice to a new nurse beginning his/her legacy, what would it be? What are the most important qualities of a nurse


The implications of legacy building will foster other chapters to focus on membership engagement and leadership development. Also, this chapter initiative will lead to future research on nursing legacy. This innovative strategy is the first in an ongoing legacy research program and its impact on the nursing profession and individuals will continue to unfold. Nurses can enhance their legacy through communicating an attitude of gratitude as well as contribute time and expertise in an effort to make a difference and promote the mission and vision of STTI.