Building a Leadership Backbone: A Scholar's Nurse Faculty Leadership Journey

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Malinda Lee Whitlow, DNP
School of Nursing, The George Washington University, Ashburn, VA, USA
Barbara J. Patterson, PhD
School of Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA, USA
Diane M. Billings, EdD
Indiana University School of Nursing, Indiana University School of Nursing, Brownsburg, IN, USA

The journey of becoming a Novice Nurse Faculty Leader begins with a sense of nervousness and apprehension due to once having a strong clinical backbone that was acquired while working as a clinician within the hospital and community setting; however, with the transition of becoming a Nurse Faculty Leader, the strong clinical backbone is now transitioning to unfamiliar nurse leadership territory. The transition from Expert Clinician to a Novice Nurse Faculty Leader also requires behaviors and characteristics that are not easily accessible from a once comfortable clinical toolbox. Benner's (1982) theory has set the stage for new nurses who are developing their career within the hospital; however, this theory can also be applied when transitioning from a Novice Jr. Faculty to a Competent and Expert Nurse Faculty Leader. Allowing oneself to become uncomfortable in order to stand taller and be comfortable in the leadership role requires understanding of how to build a leadership backbone. The purpose of this poster is to discuss the toolbox that was used to help build a Novice Nurse Faculty Leadership's Backbone by examining a leadership practices inventory (Kouzes & Posner, 2013) to understand how my leadership philosophy was perceived by colleagues, how the creation and evaluation of an Interprofessional Leadership Project helped to advance nursing education, and how continuing to build a stronger backbone was developed by expanding my scope of influence beyond the classroom to disseminate knowledge learned both nationally and internationally. This poster will take you on a journey of a Scholar's experience within the NFLA and provide insight of how others can lead the way as future nurse leaders.

Development of a Faculty Leadership Toolbox: The 3 Domains (Individual Leadership Development Plan (ILDP), Advancing Nursing Education through an Interprofessional Leadership Project, and Expanding Scope of Influence) of the STTI Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy (NFLA) is an excellent toolbox to use as faculty develop their leadership skills. The domains have helped to gain insight into leadership characteristics that are challenging to identify unless you step out of your comfort zone and seek feedback on how your leadership philosophy is perceived by others. The 1st tool in the leadership toolbox is: The Individual Leadership Development. The development of this item in the toolbox starts with a Leadership Practices Inventory (Kouzes & Posners, 2013) questionnaire that is disseminated to colleagues that helps identify how others perceive your leadership style. The top 3 leadership characteristics that were rarely or occasionally seen by colleagues became the top 3 goals to improve while in the NFLA. Those top 3 goals were: to be clear about my philosophy of leadership to colleagues during the NFLA and be transparent of my philosophy throughout and after the NFLA is complete, experiment and take risks, even when there is a chance of failure, and ask for feedback on how my actions affect other people's performance. The ILDP becomes a working tool that is updated periodically as each goal is being reached. The progression of the ILDP is also shared with colleagues so that they too see the growth of leadership characteristics.

The 2nd tool in the leadership toolbox: Advancing Nursing Education through an Interprofessional Leadership Project helps build a tool that grows a collaborative team to achieve an ultimate goal. The Interprofessional Leadership Project that was initiated during the NFLA was the integration of the Flipped Classroom learning stategy within a Pharmacology course. The project measured Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) Students' Satisfaction and Achievement. The need for a different delivery of Pharmacology content was introduced to help address the need to improve student comprehension of challenging Pharmacology material (Alton, 2016). ABSN students completed Pharmacology within their first semester of the program and provided feedback that they did not retain a lot of the content upon graduation and feared that they would not be successful on their National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) or when they transition to clinical practice. The interprofessional team consisted of 3 faculty members, instructional designer, marketing, current students who had already completed Pharmacology, and the lab director. This poster will identify the creation of a leadership project integrating an interprofessional approach, quantitative data focusing on student achievements on exams, and qualitative data focusing on student themes, don't fix what isn't broken, treat me like an adult, and remember the work is overwhelming.

The 3rd tool in the leadership toolbox: Expanding Scope of Influence within the organization, community, and profession. The tool to help expand scope of influence starts with recognizing any gaps that would prevent you from reaching this goal. Where do you see yourself in 1 or 5 years and how will you get there? Throughout the NFLA, expanding scope of influence is a great tool to keep in your toolbox to remind yourself of your passion and drive that inspired you to be a Nurse Faculty Leader. This poster identifies the journey of expanding scope of influence within the school of nursing by being the chair of 2 search committees to hire 6 new faculty members and overcoming obstacles of internal candidates who were also applying for the few positions. Taking this risk and modeling the way of how to handle conflict of interest is a tool that will stay with me throughout the rest of my leadership journey. Within the organization, joining teams such as the workload committee and helping to develop a new workload document and guidelines, writing job descriptions for new faculty positions, building a student success center and implementing student mentoring, tutoring, and mental health services for nursing students, and continuing to engage in research while also continuing to have an administrative role as the Executive Director of the ABSN program. Within the community and profession, going beyond the organization and leading teams on international medical trips to Haiti, presenting podium presentations at the AACN Baccalaureate Education Conference and at the American Academy of Family Physicians Global Health Conference, and presenting and winning best poster at the Virginia Nurses Association Legislative Summit are additional ways that I have expanded my scope of influence. Developing and retaining a Scope of Influence within the organization, community, and profession instills the passion and drive to want to build more partnerships and continue to advance the nursing profession forward.

Novice Nurse Faculty Leaders enter academia with previous clinical skills; however, the skills needed to build a stronger faculty leadership backbone are not easily obtained without the coaching and guidance of expert mentors and advisors. Therefore, this poster presentation is to discuss the journey of being a Novice Faculty Leader and the transition to being a Scholar within the NFLA and how the guidance of nursing experts and the use of a leadership toolbox has helped build an unshakable, confident leadership backbone.