Transforming the Chapter through Servant Leadership

Monday, 9 November 2015: 3:55 PM

Jennifer Saylor, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, APRN-BC
Jennifer Graber, EdD, MSN, BSN, APRN, CS, BC
School of Nursing, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA

Our STTI chapter is dedicated to selfless mentoring and investing in new nurses and new members by engaging in leadership, knowledge and research related activities. Our chapter members cultivate future leaders and ensure an active sustainable chapter through informal and formal mentoring. Mentoring fosters professional and personnel growth and development, which is an essential component to shaping nurse leaders. In the developing evidence based practice healthcare environment there is a growing need for “well prepared and motivated patient care leaders” (Benjamin, Riskus, & Skalla, 2011, p. 156). To develop effective nurse leaders it is important to have mentoring relationships that foster professional goals and growth (Hadidi, Lindquistm & Buckwater, 2013). It is essential to develop a good mentor relationship to help nurses be successful in the future. This can be done through a “mutual investment of time, engagement, energy, personal support, and encouragement” (Hadidi, Lindquist, & Buckwater, 201, p. 162).

A review of the literature shows that leadership succession planning is imperative in all areas of nursing. Our chapter is able to reach nursing students in an effort to increase potential nurse leaders within the profession. It is imperative that today’s nurses prepare for the “next generation of nurse leaders” (Crosby & Shields, 2010, p. 363). Leadership extends to all areas of nursing and we must have a plan in place to have our future nurses ready. There is currently a growing need for nurses in the work force. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) project that the nursing shortage will be over one million nurses by the year 2020 nationwide (HRSA, 2006). HRSA (2006) found that nursing jobs will increase by 26% from 2010 to 2020. Current nurse leaders are responsible for developing new leaders through being mentors and preceptors as well as being role models (Crosby & Shields, 2010). A survey conducted with nurse administrators, managers, staff nurses, and educators (n=85) found several facilitating conditions to developing nurse leaders including positive attitude, advocacy, administrative support, and experienced mentors (Crosby & Sheilds, 2010).

Succession planning has been an important aspect of the business world for years, but has only recently gained attention in the healthcare world. It is an essential strategy to help identify and prepare future nursing leaders (Carriere, Muise, Cummings, & Newburn-Cook, 2009). The researchers found that the key components of a successful succession plan included strategic planning, identifying skills, detecting candidates, mentors, and preceptors, resource allocation and evaluation (Carriere, Muise, Cummings, & Newburn-Cook, 2009). However, no best practices have emerged for healthcare.

Leadership planning can start early in nursing programs through membership in organizations such as STTI and student nursing associations (SNA). “Nurses join professional nursing associations to gain greater control of their professional future and develop greater awareness of nursing issues” (Lapidus-Graham, 2012, p. 9). Transformational Leadership Theory is a valid framework to use when trying to develop future leaders through teamwork, mentoring, coaching, trust and caring behaviors (Bass & Riggio, 2006). Research has shown that students with positive mentors and role models in nursing school are more likely to become leaders in their career (Hoffman, Harris, & Rosenfeld, 2008). A study conducted with 15 nursing graduates who had been members of their SNA was conducted to determine their leadership development. The participants identified the following themes as helpful to their progression into leadership roles after graduation: communication, collaboration, dealing with conflict, mentoring and mutual support, empowerment, professionalism, teamwork, and accountability (Lapidus-Graham, 2012). “SNAs can become one vehicle for achieving nursing program outcomes” Lapidus-Graham, 2012, p. 10).

Succession planning helps fill key leadership roles as well as develop future nurse leaders (Shifflet & Moyer, 2010; Sherman & Pross, 2010). It is important for current leaders to not see succession planning as a threat, but as a positive way to develop future leaders (Benjamin, Riskus, & Skalla, 2011). Our chapter understands the importance of using a leadership succession program in an effort to increase new member participation and retention. Retaining active members is an ongoing struggle for many chapters across the globe. Our chapter developed a Leadership Intern Program as a formal mentoring process that is mutually beneficial to mentors, mentees, and the chapter. The Leadership Intern Program is monitored by our Leadership Succession Committee. Our chapter uses various mentoring modalities including face-to-face contact, emails, social networking, and telephone.

Every year, the board matches three to four interns with chapter board members. The interns provide much needed support to the chapter and in return, they receive financial support for NCLEX exam. The mentored projects have included social media, chapter history, educational outreach, and social event coordinator and social media, which was crucial in obtaining the “Circle Award”. This program also provides members reduced rates for selected STTI/chapter conferences/programs, opportunity to network with nurse leaders, develop leadership skills and a servant leadership mentality, and as resume builder.

Of the many leadership intern positions over the years, three were offered most recently: Diversity in Nursing Initiatives Intern, Social Event Coordinator Intern, and Membership liaison Intern. The Diversity in Nursing Initiatives Intern focused on our outreach program, titled, “Kids into Health Care Career”. This intern must possess presentation skills, enjoy working with teens and children, and be creative in working with diverse populations. The Social Event Coordinator intern, focuses on the spring dinner meeting and fundraising events. This intern must possess party planning skills, be highly organized, and creative in fostering fun and meaningful events. The Membership Liaison Intern is an integral person in reactivating new members and archiving all chapter events. This intern must possess strong social media skills, creativity in engaging others, a passion for archives and history of STTI at the chapter and international level. 

Our chapter also engages graduate students/ nurse leaders in our Leadership Intern Program. Resumes, interviewing, and other career skills were sought by undergraduate students in the School of Nursing (SON).  Therefore, we selected a graduate student Mentorship Intern to organize and conduct a program for seniors at the SON, many of whom are chapter members.  This day-long drop-in program included such topics as resume writing, job search tips, preparing for interviews, getting the most from your preceptor, graduate school, working as a school or community nurse, and preparing for your first day on the job.  The graduate mentor accessed our chapter nurses from the community to provide the topics and worked hard to create a positive experience for students.  The day provided exposure to nurse leaders, other than faculty, and provided an informal way to network with nursing leaders and included snacks and lunch! The graduate intern receives financial compensation for academic expenses.

In recent years our chapter embarked on developing a tutoring program to increase knowledge of nursing students with a philosophy that nursing students should be mentoring, helping, and tutoring their fellow nursing students with supportive chapter members. The initial challenge was to determine student’s needs. With the help of our intern, potential tutors were sought via e-mail. Time was spent discussing needs with students. Initially, a “tutoring list” was formulated so students could reference it in order to find the appropriate help. For easy accessible, the tutoring list was placed on the Student Nurses Organization Website. Challenges identified included the need to have more consistency in the student organizing the tutoring system. Therefore, the Leader in Training position was created to help with this initiative.

Research mentoring within a STTI chapter promotes expansion of knowledge and cultivates future researchers. Members collaborate with the SON to participate in an undergraduate baccalaureate nursing research course, titled, “Research Concepts in Healthcare”. This course transforms and ignites research through the application of the research process to health care practice. Students collaborate with research mentors, many from our chapter including faculty and clinicians, to conduct research. The students are able to work with chapter members in small group settings and receive leadership, research, and professional mentoring while completing their course requirements. Our chapter members and other course mentors are provided an opportunity to develop their own research expertise and expand their research programs. The opportunity ranges from bench research to bedside research and spans across all health professions. Depending on the research study and its stage in the process, students may collect data, analyze data, or interpret findings and develop future research questions.  Dissemination of the research findings includes a poster presentation at a research symposium on campus and an abstract for submission to a regional research conference.

By developing a successful Leadership Intern Program, collaborating with the SON and the SNA, our chapter continues to cultivate leaders through mentoring while enriching knowledge and research, promoting success, and servilization.  More importantly we have ensured sustainability through leadership interns who have fulfilled committee positions including leadership succession and social media, as well as webmaster and newsletter editor. These initiatives provide an opportunity to expand leadership and research skills, cultivate relationships with mentors, and develop a lasting commitment to STTI.