5 Nursing Leadership Lessons

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Catherine Mohammed, PhD (c), MN, RN has more than 30 years of nursing leadership and administration experience in multiple areas of healthcare. Mohammed,  dean of academic affairs at Chamberlain’s Phoenix campus, also recently won the March of Dimes (MOD) Nurse of the Year Award in the category of Nursing Leadership & Administration Management. 

Her experience in academia, acute care, critical care and community leadership in the healthcare spectrum has given her countless lessons that she enjoys sharing with the nursing community. She recently sat down with us to talk through some of the tougher lessons she’s learned, why it’s so important to keep learning and how nurses can continue to make an impact in the healthcare industry. 

1. Never Forget Why You Wanted to Become a Nurse.

From the time I was 4 years old, I’ve wanted to be a nurse. Some of my earliest memories are from visiting the veterans at the VA Home in Minneapolis with the Girl Scouts. I was always happy to sit with the patients, and never shied away from the injuries and illnesses I sometimes saw. It’s important to remember the moment you first knew you were able and willing to help people in their most vulnerable times. I was never scared of the things I saw at the VA Home and that memory serves as a reminder of what it means to really listen and help people.

2. Strive for Continuous Improvement.

At my first job as a registered nurse, I realized there were areas I wanted to improve on—training, workload, work environment, and of course, providing the best possible care for patients. One of the first things I did was to educate myself on ACLS - Advanced Cardiac Life Support. I also studied patient care plans/outcomes/standards and read any nursing journal I could get my hands on so that I could provide the best care that I could for my patients.

Two years later, I became the assistant manager and truly discovered my love of leadership. I read every book and article I could find on leadership. I listened to tapes. I attended seminars and classes. Even my dissertation is on Nursing Leadership! 

I have never stopped learning or continuing my education. I say this because if you want to change something - educate yourself and then take it upon yourself to make the change. Don’t be afraid, just do it.

3. Go for the BSN.

I believe that nurses should at least have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) as entry level. Nurses are the leaders, coordinators, critical thinkers and patient advocates that govern most of everything done with patients. They are often in leadership positions early on and the advancement of their careers can only happen with a BSN. Is getting your BSN a commitment? Yes. But there are countless benefits that come with it. Nurses with BSNs have more job opportunities and more responsibilities including leadership roles.

4. Take on Leadership Roles Early and Often.

One of Chamberlain’s most important courses in our pre-licensure curriculum is the Leadership and Management course. We can only touch on the basics of leadership but we try to at least spark the students’ interest so they will go on to become more involved. I have found that many of our graduates have taken on leadership roles earlier in their career. I have also found that our students tend not to be afraid to have their voice heard, change their work environments and transform healthcare across the world!

5. Dream It. Define It. Do It.

There is no longer a traditional path to a leadership role or job you may want. Whatever role it is that you think is necessary to better the outcomes of our patients or staff – go for it. Who knows, maybe it doesn’t even exist yet – so invent it. Define it, discuss it with others, take a risk and then pitch your ideas to those who can help you obtain it. If you dream it, you can do it.

Nurses continue to shape the future of our industry. And as the demand for nurses grows – so does the need for nurses to lead. It’s been proven time and again that having more nurses in leadership roles – especially those with BSN’s – is not only beneficiary to our patients, but our industry as a whole. The more our nurses succeed – the more our overall health as a nation does as well.

Thinking of getting your BSN? Learn more about Chamberlain’s 3-Year BSN program here. 



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