I attended an annual conference meeting held by the Association of the New York State Nurses. This meeting is held annually to highlight various issues in the nursing sector. The meeting was sponsored by the association’s secretariat. During such meetings, distinguished speakers are invited to present research findings on selected topics. In this meeting, the speaker was the head of nursing services in a national public hospital. She is a member of the association and a registered nurse. Additionally, she holds an elective position in the association. She chairs a branch of the association. In the meeting, she chose to speak on a topic entitled “Policies and Procedures in the Nursing Practice.”
The meeting was held in a conference center within New York City. Those in attendance were mainly nurses, who are members of the association. Officials from other medical professional bodies were also invited. Moreover, in attendance were senior government officers in the nursing profession. Other attendants were nurse practitioners, nursing students, legislative representatives across the state, and other healthcare stakeholders like employees.
The role of students during the meeting was passive. It was aimed at completing a classwork assignment that required the student to attend a professional meeting and observe leadership characteristics, styles, and the application of leadership theories. After the attendance, the student was required to write a scholarly paper detailing the summary of the meeting, analyzing the leader, and reflecting on the leader’s effectiveness and implications for personal practice. Therefore, students were following the proceedings of the meeting keenly to gather notes that could help them in completing the assignment.
The main topic presented during the meeting was, “The need for policies and procedures in nursing practice.” The speaker defined policy as a system by which health care is administered. According to the speaker, a procedure is a stepwise process by which healthcare outcome is achieved. Nursing professional organizations are significant in the process of developing policies and procedures at national and state levels. The development of the policies and procedures is also affected by the standards of care. Policies and procedures must meet or exceed the minimum standards of care that are set by the nursing practice act (Porter-O’Grady & Malloch, 2013).
Policies and procedures are created to regulate, standardize, and drive the nursing practice. Evidence-based nursing is essential in the process of developing policies and procedures. Although evidence-based nursing practice is a mechanism for achieving best practices in clinical operations, it has very little impact on the clinical practice that nurses deliver every day. Nursing policies and books present traditional routine regulated clinical practices without an evidence base (Porter-O’Grady & Malloch, 2013). In nursing, policies and procedures are needed to control rather than support evidence-based practice and minimize the opportunities for clinicians to create patient-specific decisions. The evidence-based practices and the best practices are achieved through the creation of policies and procedures, which are based on the relevant and rigorous evidence that supports standardized nursing interventions. Other aspects include the clinical expertise of the nurse and the dynamic environment in which the nurse practice (O’Brien, 2011).
The nursing practice functions under the regulations of the state and federal legislative and federal laws and agencies. Both the state and the federal legislatures develop and pass the laws. Federal administrative agencies like the veterans’ administration oversee compliance with regulations by their agencies. Examples of federal administrative agencies discussed by the speaker included the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services, the Safety and Health Administration, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Others included state administrative agencies like the State Board of Nursing, which also creates regulations to accompany, detail, and implement state laws (Porter-O’Grady & Malloch, 2013).
The program had an impact on the nurses who wanted to be leaders in the field. According to Abood (2007), the present health care is set up with many laws, policies, and regulations, which are imposed by institutions, governmental agencies, and insurers of the private sector, challenging both the nurses and patients when they are looking for quality care, but they are limited by costs. This assertion shows how the policies are proving difficult to nurses and patients. The meeting covered the policies and procedures in nursing coupled with why they are important. Some of the “healthcare policies are complex, and they require one to have the knowledge and sometimes employ the efforts of organized groups” (Marshall, 2011, p. 89). Sometimes, such policies require lobbying professional help, which may extend for months or even years. Therefore, it is important for nurses to attend these professional organization meetings because they enhance certain aspects of professional practice.
When nurses become leaders, they assume capacities of making policies and procedures to be followed in the field. The attendees were well equipped with the knowledge of creating policies. In professional terms, the nurses in attendance got some tips on practicing in the field. These tips could help them at their workplaces by ensuring that they embrace professionalism all the time. The meeting was motivating, and thus as all nurses returned to their workplaces, they had extra energy to work more devotedly than before. Additionally, the knowledge that they got may help them in adhering to the set policies and procedures.
When nurses join their professional groups, they become stronger with many resources pulled together. Therefore, they can make strategies effectively, and thus bring the viewpoint of their fellow nurses into the policymaker’s decisions. These professional affiliations in the nursing profession can keep an eye on the healthcare policies and train their members (Abood, 2007). Such forums are good in drawing these strategies as, during these meetings, a large percentage of members gather.
Besides, the program had some impacts on communication. Two aspects characterize effective communication, viz. Articulation of ideas by the speaker and understanding the audience, whom the speaker is communicating within the process. Understanding the audience helps in perceiving how best they learn and receive the information. Managers in positions of power are likely to intimidate their subordinates. Additionally, they are likely to talk down to people, which may create feelings among staff members that the manager does not communicate with respect to subordinates. Intimidated people respond in a defensive way, and this aspect impairs effective communication. Managers who wish to be effective in communication should monitor themselves actively together with their audience to determine if their staff members are becoming defensive to what they are saying. Nurse leaders have to acquire this skill. By attending leadership forums, more and more skills will be acquired in communication and leadership.
For nurses to develop their skills in leadership, they must learn from the expert leaders and work closely with them. These expert leaders must provide constructive feedback about their performance. When a nurse has an experience with a leader, it allows him or her to understand the context of the organization. Moreover, nurses build their skills in negotiating, communicating, and collaborating (Marshall, 2011). Nurses can also learn by personal involvement, which means learning by doing. This aspect may involve working in a clinic with an experienced nurse. For nurses to become effective leaders, they should be in a position to define their uniqueness, which makes them special. Once they recognize their differentiating characters, they must seek to grow continually towards increasing expertise in that unique skill. This way, they grow to become leaders who can influence policies, evidence-based practice, or teach new skills.
Many hospitals have leadership programs for developing their managers and other staff members who aspire to become managers. With nurses, leadership can be learned in professional development programs. In most cases, professional organizations have training institutes and seminars during their annual conferences.
The speaker demonstrated various leadership characteristics. She had a clear vision of a nurse. She could paint a clear picture of how successful nurses should be, what personal qualities they should possess, and what they should expect from the profession. Besides, the speaker had motivational characteristics. She could use examples of some of the difficult moments in the nursing profession to encourage other nurses to be looking positively at such situations as they are meant for one’s growth.
The speaker demonstrated a transformational form of leadership, which is based on building relationships by definition. A transformational leader motivates followers through a shared vision and mission (Marshall, 2011). Additionally, a transformational leader is charismatic to communicate about vision and confident to act and inspire followers. Such a leader is respected and s/he receives loyalty from staff members due to making them realize that they are important. A transformative leader encourages other people to help them do things that they are not sure they can execute. Through this speaker, there was a clear vision as to what to expect from the nursing profession. Additionally, although nurses undergo some difficult situations, everyone present was very encouraged by the positive attitude that the speaker had towards those difficult job moments.
Through transformational leadership, leaders direct by being role models, developing employees, creating an enabling work environment and inspiring employees to be optimistic. Transformative leaders are task-focused, and they concentrate on the daily work of their organization. Additionally, they set goals for the employees and focus on a reward system for optimal performance through motivation. The employees’ satisfaction level increases when the leaders are perceived as transformational. Leaders who create and maintain a positive work environment succeed more in keeping employees satisfied as compared to their counterparts who do not do the same. Work setups that empower nurses to use their expertise in making decisions promote their trust within the organization and increase job satisfaction. Nurse Managers play an important role in promoting a trustful work environment.
When making her presentation, the speaker maintained three key components, viz. Words, tone, and body language. She used words driven by the message, thus avoiding medical jargon for everyone to understand. Everyone could understand the message because the speaker used the most appropriate communication skills and language for the profession. Her tone varied according to the message. The audience enjoyed her tone variation as it could drive parts of the message. Additionally, the speaker was attentive to the audience. Therefore, she could adjust her body language depending on the audience’s response to her message. Her way of presentation ensured that everybody was attentive at all times. On several occasions, she encouraged the audience’s participation in the discussion by asking some professional and work-related questions. After her speech, she listened to questions from the audience and answered all of them.
When a conflict arose, the leader used a constructive conflict solution approach to reach consensus. This method improves communication, and it leads to a win-win situation. With constructive conflict resolution, the leader used collaborative negotiation, which assumes that people have both diverse and common interests. Moreover, this negotiation skill ensures that each party gains in the process (Rigolosi, 2013). Collaborative negotiation is based on the assumption that interdependence is important and common interests can be identified even in the presence of some competing interests. In this type of negotiation, the two sides use collaboration and compromise frequently.
The leader was effective in delivering the content to the audience. Through her industry experience, education, and leadership positions that she has held, she had adequate knowledge about policies and procedures in the nursing practice. She could draw examples from her real-life experiences, rather than theories. As the majority of the audience was practicing nurses, the leader could demonstrate to them what nursing is involved and why it needs policies and procedures. Due to her transformative leadership qualities, she could motivate the nurses to love their work. Besides, due to her polished communication skills, she was audible, and thus she passed out points clearly for everybody to understand. Her sense of humor kept the audience lively and eager to hear more from her. She could move around the conference hall while making her presentation, and thus everyone became close to her.
Implications for the Professional Nursing Practice
This meeting was a good learning activity as far as nursing is concerned. Sharing a joint forum with other professionals was quite motivating. From the presentation of the leader, there was a deep insight into the understanding of how policies and procedures are created in the nursing industry. From the presentation, it was also clear why the nursing profession requires policies and procedures. The presentation also led to the understanding of the roles played by bodies like the State Nursing Board and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention among others. There was also much to learn from the leader. All those outstanding leadership qualities including motivation, vision, and communication were all learning points. It is worth imitating those qualities to become a good leader.
If I were in the leader’s position, one of the things that I would do in a similar way is master all aspects of the profession. The leader demonstrated through experience by mastering all the aspects of the nursing profession. She could explain it to the audience precisely and captivatingly. The leader drew a picture in the mind of the nursing profession from after school to the point of her experience. It would be good to repeat this aspect to another audience so that they get the same message. Another thing that I would do in a similar way is motivate the audience. Where every member of the audience saw impossibilities, the speaker explained the way out. This aspect made the nursing profession look like fun to everybody present at the meeting.
If I were in the speaker’s position, I would tone down the sense of humor in my speech. The speaker was too humorous that some sentiments triggered internal discussions among the audience. The murmurs were disruptive and sometimes it took long for the audience to cool down for the presenter to continue. This aspect extended the time of the meeting by several hours.
The experience gained will influence my ability to effect change in the future in various ways. One of them is a positive attitude, which leads to seeing possibilities in all scenarios. Without a positive attitude, change cannot happen because it is perceived as an impossible venture. Another way is by developing excellent communication skills. The speaker demonstrated that for one to have an impact, the communication must be clear to the audience. The ability to bring change is thus boosted by improved communications (Kelly, 2012). This aspect helps to communicate the change clearly. Having a clear vision will also influence the ability to effect change. The speaker held a clear vision of the nursing career. Once the vision is clear, it is not easy to be disrupted until the envisioned change is effected. Joining a nursing association gives more power to the nurse. Therefore, it suffices to conclude that membership in these associations and registration with the nursing board increases influence, hence the ability to create change.
Leadership is defined as a process of social influence, where one person supports others towards achieving a certain goal (Roussel, 2013). From the meeting experience, this definition holds, but a few things can be added. Leadership involves a clear vision with an endowed purpose. The leader should keep on reminding the followers of the vision because they might forget. Leadership involves seeing possibilities in all scenarios. The leader should acknowledge ideas from other people. Besides, the leader should be in a position to communicate without difficulties to the followers. Additionally, one should be in a position to solve conflicts in a way that leads to a win-win situation.
The annual general meeting for the nurses was educative. The following is a summary of what was learned:
- The policy is a system by which health care is administered while a procedure is a stepwise process by which healthcare outcome is achieved.
- Policies and procedures are created to control evidence-based practice and restrict clinicians from creating patient-specific decisions.
- Nursing professional organizations play major roles in developing clinical policies and procedures
- Both the national and federal governments regulate the nursing profession.
- There is a growing need for nurse managers. Therefore, nurses have to develop their skills towards becoming administrators.
- Nurses can become managers through attending leadership training and working with their leaders to gain practical experience.
- A leader should demonstrate transformative leadership qualities to increase the employees’ satisfaction.
- Leaders should develop exceptional communication skills. This aspect will help in the selection of the right words for their speech and understanding their audience.
- Leaders should be in a position to solve conflicts using methods such as constructive conflict resolution, which leads to a win-win situation.
Abood, S. (2007). Influencing healthcare in the legislative arena. Journal of Issues in Nursing, 12(1), 1-12.
Kelly, P. (2012). Nursing leadership & management. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage.
Marshall, E. (2011). Transformational leadership in nursing: From expert clinician to influential leader. New York, NY: Springer.
O’Brien, E. (2011). Servant leadership in nursing: Spirituality and practice in contemporary healthcare. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Porter-O’Grady, T., & Malloch, K. (2013). Leadership in nursing practice: Changing the landscape of healthcare. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Rigolosi, M. (2013). Management and leadership in nursing and healthcare: An experiential approach. New York, NY: Springer.
Roussel, L. (2013). Management and leadership for nurse administrators. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.