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The Emerging Nurse Leader Program


It’s great to have another guest post from Laurie Bickhoff, who was chosen as one of five Emerging Nurse Leaders in 2012. In this post, Laurie gives details about the Emerging Nurse Leader Program.

“The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) acknowledges the vital role nurse leaders have in influencing nursing and health care. Nurse leadership is essential to support high-quality patient care, productivity and health service innovation and to ensure that the nursing profession retains a strong voice in policy discussions. It is important that nurse leadership is supported and developed. In demonstrating its commitment to the profession and nurse leadership ACN has established the Emerging Nurse Leader (ENL) program.

The ENL program recognises undergraduate nursing students who have demonstrated leadership skills and help them transition into tomorrow’s nursing leaders. The program is a three year scholarship program, funded by corporate sponsors Chandler Macleod, HIP Super and the Co-Op Bookshop. Nursing students are invited to apply at the end of their second year of study and need to show a commitment to leadership in nursing through their involvement in student, community and volunteering activities, student representation or other involvement in the advancement of the nursing profession. With just five students selected each year, the ENL program aims to extend their own natural aptitude for leadership and help them to progress the art of nursing.

The program is structured over three years, each having its’ own unique focus. The first year of the program occurs in conjunction with the ENLs’ third and final year of their nursing degree and centres on building self-awareness. The ENLs are provided with mentorship and helped to establish a professional development plan and portfolio using ACN’s Life Long Learning Program.

With the second year of the program occurring whilst the ENLs are undertaking new graduate transition to practice programs, the focus shifts to recognising how we influence others and work within a team environment. The ENLs complete a leadership skills inventory and work to develop these qualities, and are encouraged to take on junior leadership roles within the ACN Regions and Communities of Interest and their own health care organisations.

The third and final year of the program aims to support the ENLs in launching their nursing careers, switching to a professional focus and developing their own leadership visions. The ENLs complete an introductory unit from the ACN Graduate Certificate of Leadership and Management and are shown how to apply their own leadership qualities to professional activities.

During each year of the ENL program, the ENLs complete a Leadership Capability Workbook, based on the HWA Health LEADS Australian Leadership Framework, are given coaching sessions on topics such as interpersonal communication and conflict resolution, and aided in developing articles for publication. The ENLs are funded to attend and participate in an ACN national event each year, such as the National Nursing Forum and given the opportunity to attend events which they otherwise might not be able.

For example, this year the ENLs were sponsored to attend the International Council of Nursing 25th Quadrennial Congress in Melbourne. Few nursing students or new graduate nurses would have been able to afford to attend this incredible conference. However, thanks to the program, both the 2012 and 2013 ENL cohorts were able to attend for the full five day program, joining over 4000 nurses from around the world. Furthermore, the ENLs were supported in submitting abstracts for consideration, with four ENLs being accepted to give presentations to the international audience. An amazing, and possibly once in a lifetime, opportunity made possible by the ENL program.

At the end of the program, the aim is for the ENLs to have developed their leadership skills and built their knowledge of nursing policy issues. They should be able to demonstrate their experience in advocacy, representation and engagement. The ENLs are then encouraged to transition into the ACN Leadership and Management Community of Interest and, hopefully, continue to grow into the nursing leaders of tomorrow.

Applications for the 2014 ENL program have closed and the winners will be announced in October at the ACN National Nursing Forum.”

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