One of the eight essentials of the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice considered fundamental for all graduates of DNP programs regardless of specialty or focus area is “organizational and systems leadership for quality improvement and systems thinking” (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2006, p. 10). Reflecting back, and considering events and/or time periods in which both organizational and personal leadership influenced my development, collegiate lacrosse rises to the top of the list. Four years of not only physically demanding practices and games, but also dedication, teamwork, and commitment to the team, coaching staff, and athletic department. Even as a student-athlete, it often seemed as if lacrosse trumped academics when it came to crucial games in the season, road trips interfering with afternoon classes, and most certainly playoffs. Beyond lacrosse, the four p’s – people, places, purpose, and passion, further influenced my development as a leader and truly shaped me into the ambitious and strong-willed young adult I am today.
Collegiate lacrosse has been influential in all realms of leadership throughout my four year career as a student-athlete but specifically in organizational and personal leadership. Essential II of the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice states “nurses should be prepared with sophisticated expertise in assessing organizations, identifying systems’ issues, and facilitating organization-wide changes in practice delivery” (AACN, 2006, p.10). Additionally, Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee (2013) outline the significant importance of organizational leadership in Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence in explaining the success of a group or company is not reliant on one capable leader, but on the effectiveness of leadership development throughout the system. As a college-athlete, I have acquired a plethora of invaluable time management, communication, and leadership skills. However, through playing lacrosse I believe I have benefited the most in gaining competence in both organizational and personal leadership and have translated that knowledge and skill set to be successful and proficient in my nursing career.
Being a member of a team from freshman to senior year was both empowering and motivating. The success of the entire team was dependent on the attitude, communication skills, and work ethic of the group as a whole. Personal leadership arose from my years as an athlete my junior and senior year when I led the team as captain. However, organizational leadership always came first as I worked with two other teammates as co-captions and the entire team on a daily basis in order to function as a system. A hasty lesson learned was that team captain was not defined by which member scored the most goals or by post-game statistics, but by motivating the entire team, cultivating new leaders, facilitating compromise, and remaining positive and goal oriented despite obstacles and defeat. Lacrosse has undeniably influenced my success as a nurse. Lacrosse has most certainly built my foundation of leadership and advanced my abilities in the role of a charge nurse, in precepting new graduate nurses, and leading quality improvement projects.
In addition to lacrosse, the four p’s have strongly impacted my development as a compelled and driven individual in many aspects of my life. Beginning with the most influential person in my life, my mother is my ultimate role model. My mother in three words is independent, headstrong, and persistent. She raised three tenacious college educated daughters as a single mother working full time and without a doubt always put my sisters and my needs before her own. Her endless support through every triumph and hardship has shaped me into the woman I am today. Her perpetual optimism and reassurance pushes me daily to become the best version of myself and achieve every goal I strive to accomplish.
Additionally, the one significant place that has undoubtedly molded and influenced my life is Boston. Boston is the one symbolic place that signifies not only the start of my nursing career, but the beginning of my independence and self-sufficiency. I moved to Boston after I completed my Bachelor of Science at the college closest to my hometown, separated from my long term boyfriend, and branched out from my friends that I had been with for the past 20 years. It is the first place I attempted to find myself outside of familiar faces and my usual surroundings. I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Institute of Health Professionals in Charlestown, Massachusetts. I worked through the accelerated nursing program while living with three other nursing students, bartending to afford my books and subway pass, and striving to live the best adventurous life I could in my early 20’s. Boston is truly the place I’ll look back on and remember the area I transitioned from a child into a woman, a student into a professional, and a curious lost soul into the confident individual I strive to be when I look in the mirror.
Furthermore, the last remaining p’s- purpose and passion, overlap in that they share the influential factor of nursing. I discovered early on in life, my purpose was to help others. I knew I was not only meant to assist other people but to be impactful and strive to make a difference. I learned my first day of clinical that as a nurse I would have the opportunity to meet those goals on a daily basis. As a nurse, specifically in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), I have the opportunity each shift to lead the rapid response/code team and rise to the challenge of multi-tasking multiple life saving interventions while closely assessing and monitoring my patients. On the simpler side of things, I also have the opportunity to educate patients, family members, and colleagues, lend an ear of empathy and compassion, and simply walk into work everyday with a positive attitude and optimism. Throughout my years as a nurse, I have learned that nursing is beyond a profession, but a life calling of humility, accountability, and integrity.
Moreover, my passion for nursing transitioned into anesthesia after shadowing a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) during a nurse residency rotation. I immediately found myself enthralled and captivated by their intelligence, level of autonomy, and ease and confidence of handling a multitude of responsibilities. It was at that moment I knew I truly found my passion. At that time, I became fully committed to dedicate and engross my life into becoming a CRNA. While using the skills I had mastered and learned as a bedside nurse, I began envisioning and working toward becoming a proficient, resourceful, and reliable CRNA.
Both organizational and personal leadership, along with the four p’s, have significantly influenced my professional and personal development. My growth continues to evolve as I make pivotal educational transitions from bedside nurse to CRNA. I am hopeful and confident that the organizational and personal leadership skills I have acquired and will continue to gain along my professional journey, will guide me toward success.
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2006). The essentials of doctoral education for advanced nursing practice. Retrieved from www.aacn.nche.edu/DNP/pdf/Essentials.pdf
- Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2013) Primal leadership: Unleashing the power of emotional intelligence. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.