My nursing responsibilities for the past seven years are as a nurse on a cardiac floor. In considering how the leadership skills I have acquired in this program will translate to an overall advocacy in my workplace and establish guidelines for my future career, I have undertaken some serious reflection. This paper identifies the conclusions I have come to in four key areas: accountability, career planning, personal journey disciplines, and reflective practice, based on the Nurse Manager Skills Inventory (NMLP, 2006). Finally, I present a specific workplace goal I would like to promote, along with a plan for implementing it.
Accountability
In terms of accountability, I recently came across an opinion piece in the Nursing Standard (11 Dec. 2013). This piece made the important point that it is vital that nurses act as advocates for their patients, even in the face of opposition from management or other sources. It seems to me that nurses are the chief advocates for the patients and their families and have the responsibility to assure that each patient receives the best possible care. While this may seem obvious, it is sometimes too easy to lose sight of in the hustle of a busy cardiac ward. My ethical responsibility as a nurse leader is to ensure the patients receive the best possible care I can give them, and that I advocate for them. Hanson and Barach (2013) noted that in cardiac cases, family-centered care is vital for optimal patient outcomes. My focus in this has to through a process of ongoing education and training to improve my skills, and a determination to act ethically not only with patients, but also with my colleagues in the workplace.

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My strengths in this area are that I truly care about my patients and colleagues and see them as individuals already and relate well to them; I also have strong understanding of cardiac illnesses based on seven years of experience working with cardiac patients and I do strive to continually upgrade my skills. My biggest weakness is that I am not as active in professional organizations as I could be.

Career Planning
As a cardiac nurse, I have a clear focus on the requirements of my job and I strive to keep my skills and knowledge current. Ultimately, I would like to become licensed as a cardiac nurse practitioner. In order to do this, I need to accomplish my BS in nursing, then continue to get a MS in Nursing as a prerequisite. Once I achieve the MS, The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) certifies Nurse Practitioners in general, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certifies cardiac-vascular nurses (AANP, 2014; ANCC, 2014). Thus, my plan is to continue to develop my nurse training and skill set specifically in the cardiac care arena. I believe that this will provide me with many opportunities to grow professionally.

My strengths in this area are that I have great determination to achieve my goals and have the support of my family to work toward them. My weakness is that between a long and tiring work schedule and family responsibilities it is sometimes too easy to place my career growth as a low priority. This is an issue of proper prioritization. By improving my career, I will be better able to care for my family and will be able to achieve my goals of improving patient care.

Personal Journey Disciplines
In terms of the personal journey disciplines, I do attempt to participate in some work committees. For example, I have acted as mentor and trainer to new nurses coming into my unit, particularly in the past 2 years. I try to demonstrate proper techniques and give the trainee an opportunity to experience doing those herself in an active learner role. My strengths in these roles lie primarily in the fact that I am very patient. I try to let learners make mistakes as long as they are not dangerous errors, and then help them understand why other methods are more successful. I believe this type of active learning helps them learn more fully. My greatest weakness is that I do not generally volunteer for leadership roles because of an extremely busy schedule. I need to work on this aspect of my career.

Reflective Practice
In reflecting on these issues, I realize that I have developed a number of positive leadership skills, more than I previously realized I have. That is a good thing. The negative aspect is that I do still tend to sit back and let others lead unless given a nudge by a co-worker or supervisor. It is easier to let others lead than to step up myself. While it is true that doing so sometimes makes sense when I am juggling school, full time work, and the demands of a family, I cannot let this become so habitual that I ignore the importance of demonstrating the leadership roles I am training for. Thus, the greatest single lesson I have learned is the importance of stepping away from doing what is easier and taking a leadership role in my workplace.

Implementing Leadership in the Workplace
I am concerned about keeping new nurses in the unit updated with the most recent information. Cardiac care is a fast-developing field. I would like to head a group of experienced cardiac nurses in my workplace to identify areas where the workflow can be made more efficient and the training for new cardiac nurses in the unit can be made more effective. To do this, I will need to discuss the plan with my nurse manager, recruit other cardiac nurses to offer their suggestions and ideas, and coordinate the suggestions into a specific plan to update workflow and cardiac unit training for new nurses in the unit.

    References
  • Hanson, C. C. & Barach, P. R. (2012). Improving cardiac care quality and safety thorugh partnerships with patients and their families. Progress in Pediatric Cardiology, 33(1), 73-79.
  • Nurse Manager Leadership Partnership (NMLP). (2006). Nurse manager skills inventory. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Web. Available from: http://www.aone.org
  • Nursing Standard. (11 Dec. 2013). Care would have improved long ago if nurse’s warnings had been heeded. Nursing Standard, 28(15), 32-33.