Category Archives: Leadership Development
I felt the pressure build as I began the one-year accelerated nursing program at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU). I was fearful and thought, “How could I make it through this program in one piece?” As a recipient of an NCIN scholarship, this honor also brought a responsibility to positively represent the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through my volunteer work in the community. I wondered, “How would I be able to add this responsibility to my academic commitments?”
That fear is now a thing of the past. Over the last seven months, my community service involvement has increased from only one activity per month to two or three. It has brought me closer to my classmates, enabling me to use team synergy to make a difference in the community while growing in my academic performance.
I feel helping the community and becoming a unit with my fellow classmates is an experience I will always take with me. In the nursing profession, it is so important to work together and help others who are in need. I consider one of the lessons learned was how to work together most effectively to find a volunteer option we were all interested in accomplishing, and ensuring the group effort makes the biggest impact.
Robert Otto Valdez, PhD, is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) professor of family & community medicine and economics at the University of New Mexico. He serves as executive director of the RWJF Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, a national program office for increasing diversity in health and health care leadership.
I have come to learn that mentoring is tricky business. Luckily, my own mentors often played the traditional role that Homer described of Telemachus’ mentor, a fellow named (logically enough) Mentor. They nurtured, protected, and educated me on the ways of the academy and have guided me in my professional career decisions. For some reason unbeknownst to me, they assumed I should take my “rightful” place in the academy and as a leader.
Through their wise example, I learned that mentors help their protégés set goals and develop standards and skills. They protect their protégés from others, so that they can take risks and potentially fail in a safe environment. They facilitate their protégés’ entrance into professional circles. But, so much of my mentoring depended on luck, on developing relationships that had the “right chemistry,” or on already being in the “right circles.”
What about young scholars who were not alumni of particular institutions that facilitate entry into powerful social networks, or who are without family connections that facilitate entry into academic or professional circles? How are they to be mentored? If Lady Luck fails them and they find no mentor, unfortunately they remain abandoned outside our professional circles. I find this to be the case for many young scholars from under-represented minority communities. Role models and faculty from their communities remain rare in our nation’s institutions of higher education. Thus, in many institutions the need persists for a more systematic approach to preparing young scholars.
At the RWJF Center for Health Policy, we’re trying to do just that, providing seminars and workshops that transmit to all our affiliated young scholars the formal and informal knowledge and skills they need to become successful scholars and policy analysts. But, we also focus on leadership development, so that our graduates are ready to take on their rightful leadership roles in our society. Our first cohort—doctoral graduates and post-doctoral scholars—have successfully started tenure track positions for which they are well prepared to succeed.
The New York Times last week reported on how budget cuts are affecting training programs for careers that rely on skills that are in high demand, including nursing.
“Technical, engineering and health care expertise are among the few skills in huge demand even in today’s lackluster job market,” the story reports. “They are also, unfortunately, some of the most expensive subjects to teach.”
At Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, N.C., for instance, nursing program applicants far outnumber available slots, forcing more than 1,000 students onto a waiting list. A 21-percent cut in state funding has prevented the school from expanding the program to satisfy demand so, instead, the school created a “pre-nursing” program that applicants must complete to stay on the waiting list. But now even that prerequisite program has a waiting list of more than 400 names. Like many other states, North Carolina faces what the New York Times describes as a “severe nursing shortage.”
Budget cuts aren’t the only reason qualified applicants are being turned away from schools of nursing. There aren’t enough nurse faculty to educate all the nurses the country needs. The Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, recommends doubling the number of nurses with master’s and doctoral degrees by 2020 to add to the pool of potential nurse faculty and researchers.
The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI), a program of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), is working to increase the number of nurse faculty and transform nursing education in the state. NJNI’s Faculty Preparation Program provides generous benefits and support to nurses interested in becoming nurse faculty in the state, as they pursue their post-graduate degrees.
The Foundation also provides career development support for junior nurse faculty members—often stretched thin at schools with limited faculty slots, and paid less than peers who stay in clinical practice—through the RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars program. It provides three years of mentorship and leadership training, as well as salary and research support to faculty as they begin their careers in academic nursing.
By Jennifer Doering, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar
The first time I took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator Instrument (MBTII) I was 18 and just starting the Air Force ROTC. It seemed rather obvious to my young mind there was a ‘right way’ and a ‘wrong way’ to answer the questions. I’ll admit that I outright lied and selected answers that suggested I was bold, aggressive and outspoken, thinking I knew the type of personality the military wanted officers to possess. However, even with such effort to appear extraverted, I only came out in the middle of the Introvert-Extravert (I-E) spectrum.
Fast forward 15 years. I am again sitting down to take the MBTII, this time as a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholar. Out of curiosity more than anything, I decide to be as honest as possible. It’s no surprise, then, to discover I am about as introverted as it gets. Threaded through my cohort’s week together at Outward Bound is the running joke that awareness of our I-E type allows the group’s extraverts to know better than to keep asking, ‘What’s wrong?’ when we introverts get grumpy. The MBTII exercise tells them our grumpiness means we need some alone time to ‘re-charge our batteries,’ but don’t possess the straightforwardness to simply say so.
Over the next three years, RWJF provided us with incredible leadership training. We heard words of advice, wisdom and passion from the premier leaders of our discipline and of health care. These leaders took huge risks at great personal cost and sacrifice to push forward the edge of what was possible for the betterment of nursing and humanity. They made no apology for breaking the rules in order to re-invent those rules in their image. It was a gift to learn from such bold leaders.
But as I sat through each training session, one nagging question loomed in the back of my mind: How could I harness the leadership potential RWJF saw in me if I was most happy and energized when working alone?
Physicians and nurses do even more than diagnose and care for patients. They mentor and guide those new to the field, manage units or entire organizations, serve on boards and task forces, and in many other ways help improve the way health care is delivered. As the health workforce grows and reform transforms our health system, providers’ roles and responsibilities are changing as well—and those with strong leadership skills are likely to be in demand.
American Medical News reports that more hospitals are encouraging physicians to take on new and advanced roles by providing leadership education training. Such programs can vary in terms of the applicant pool and selection process, as well as the length and credits that are granted upon completion. The leadership programs also vary by source, with some provided by the health care organization itself, and others by academic institutions or professional associations.
The American College of Physician Executives (ACPE), for instance, offers a variety of leadership programs, including live conferences; computer-based, distance education; and on-site, customizable leadership development programs. ACPE spent twice as many days in 2011 teaching physician leadership courses as it had in previous years. The organization expects 2012 to show a marked increase, as well.
“It’s clear that we need physicians to do more than just run the medical staff,” James Rice, PhD, project director for the consulting firm Management Sciences for Health, told American Medical News. “But for physicians to go into leadership and management roles, serve on committees for the medical staff, take on part-time medical directorships, run accountable care organizations, [and] be on process improvement teams, a new set of competencies has to be developed.”
Nurses, too, are needed for leadership positions. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has long promoted nurse leaders, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, includes several recommendations promoting nurse leadership.
For 40 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has been investing in people, or “human capital,” with the potential to be bold, innovative change agents, capable of improving the health and health care of all Americans.
Watch a video featuring current Scholars and alumni from RWJF programs who exemplify this commitment, as they discuss how the programs have affected their careers and lives.
The Center to Champion Nursing in America (CCNA), an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has created a new resource for nurses who are considering board leadership. This introductory program discusses the importance of nurses in the boardroom and offers guidance to those who want to get started building the skills they will need for board service.
The program consists of a PowerPoint presentation on the importance of nurse leadership in the boardroom and how nurses can prepare for the role, as well as video interviews with nurse leaders who have served on boards, offering their insights and discussing their experiences. Both are available on the CCNA website for viewing.
The Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report recommends that nurses take on key leadership positions in order to lead change and advance health, including serving on boards, executive management teams and in other key leadership positions across all levels of the health care system.
A free DVD of the new program is available for use in presentations to nurses in their communities. It includes the PowerPoint presentation, a speaker’s script and video interview clips.
View the PowerPoint presentation or request a DVD.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellows (ENF) program has literally changed the trajectory of my professional achievements and personal development as a leader. The ENF program aims to prepare nurse leaders to shape the U.S. health care system and requires us to be innovative, strategic visionaries, risk takers and skillful at creating the change we want to see in our health care delivery system.
As a National Advisory Committee member of Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN), I have been able to leverage my skills as a strategic thinker to help partners see the connection between their projects and the potential impact they have on their communities. As an advisor to the program, there is a great sense of responsibility because our recommendations impact funding decisions, partnership expansion, and innovative projects.
I view myself as a nurse leader who is able to listen well and be nimble during collaboration with partners and who is able to identify key points while remaining focused on the end game. The ENF program prepared me to be politically savvy and skillful at interacting with key leaders to solve problems while using “on the ground” experience to expand projects.
By Desmond K. Runyan, MD, DrPH, national program director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars program
I was deeply saddened to learn that Margaret E. “Maggie” Mahoney, a pioneer in health care and philanthropy, passed away recently. As head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars program, an influential and acclaimed physician training program that Mahoney helped create, I have the great honor of carrying out one aspect of her great legacy in health and philanthropy: improving health and health care by supporting innovative thinkers in health and medicine.
Mahoney herself was one of those innovative thinkers—and I am so grateful she had the courage to stand by her unconventional convictions.
I never met Maggie Mahoney, but I attended a talk she gave to the RWJF Clinical Scholars program annual meeting Scottsdale, Ariz., back in 1980, if I am not mistaken. Then the head of the Carnegie Foundation, Mahoney described the origin and original purpose of the program and sent a clear message that the program would continue into the future. If the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ever ceased supporting it, she said, the Carnegie Foundation would adopt it as its own.
This is but one story illustrating the great and lasting influence Maggie had on health and health care. She certainly influenced my career, and she also improved the lives of some 1,200 Clinical Scholar alums, and countless patients and other medical providers all over the country.
Danielle Wright, a 2005 alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Project L/EARN program, is now working toward her MD and MPH. Here she offers her perspective on the need to help a diverse range of students succeed in medical school.
I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was in middle school. There were no doctors in my family or physician mentors available to me in those years, but that didn’t matter to me. By the time I was in college, I figured I was good to go. I was headed to medical school to become an obstetrician. I knew I had to take specific science classes, take the MCATs, get letters of recommendation and maybe even do some summer programs—no problem. It wasn’t until I actually started preparing my application, around my junior year, that I realized I was lost. I knew what to do, but I didn’t really know how to do it. I was overwhelmed by the number of applications, appointments and forms. I quickly discovered that there were a lot of potential pitfalls in the medical school application process.
Getting into medical school is difficult for even the most capable applicant, regardless of background. But, the process becomes even more challenging if you are a member of a group traditionally underrepresented in the medical profession. Not because there is anything different about you as a potential student, but because not that long ago, medicine was a closed, elite club. That means that if you hit a wall in the application or academic process and begin looking for that trusted role model, mentor or advocate, there’s seldom anyone there to show you the way.
Fortunately, as an undergraduate student at Rutgers University, I found ODASIS—Office for Diversity and Academic Success in the Sciences—a program for minority students interested in the health professions. ODASIS not only provided the guidance I needed to apply to medical school, but advice on how to succeed in my career. Next, I participated in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Project L/EARN. The program was very important to me for two reasons. First, I was introduced to medical research and public health and I realized I loved them both. After the program, I changed my major from biology to public health and decided I wanted to become a researcher as well as a clinician. In addition, I had no idea that questions about conducting medical research would come up in my medical school interviews, but they did. Thanks to Project L/EARN, I was prepared and a stronger applicant than I would have been without participating.