The theme of this year’s International Nurses Day is ‘Nurses … a voice to lead’. So much has been written about nursing leadership … definitions of leadership, leadership theories and styles, leadership attributes and approaches etc … so, rather than revisit much of what we already know, this blog post illustrates my personal philosophy of leadership as illustrated in the life and work of three nursing leaders who I’ve been honoured to know for many years.
Each of these leaders demonstrates leadership that is informed by empathy and a service orientation. Their values are evident in what they do and say and how they live their lives. Each of these women has overcome considerable personal challenges but has not succumbed to self-pity. Rather, their experiences have served to strengthen them and have become a source of inspiration for many. This year the International Council of Nurses encourages nurses to use their voice and share their stories. So in this blog I share the stories of Jean Gersbach, Glenys Chapman and Pamela van der Riet, three incredible nursing leaders … Read more →
Next month I am going to an Empathy conference in Oxford and needless to say I’m more than a little excited. For someone who is a self-confessed English history devotee the opportunity to meander around the 12th century university college buildings in the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ will be wonderful. However, as an educator and researcher with a passion for exploring the concept of empathy, the conference promises to be thought provoking (even though we are forbidden from using either ppt or written notes in our presentations … eeek!).
‘Healthcare is more than the sum of its parts. All healthcare professionals must be knowledgeable, clinically astute and able to provide empathetic care’1
I’ve become increasingly interested in empathy over the last decade. For a long time I thought that people were either born with an empathetic disposition (as I assumed most health professionals were), or they weren’t (these are the narcissistic people we’ve all met at some stage in our lives). I didn’t conceptualise empathy as a skill that should and could be taught.
Then along came Naleya Everson, an exceptionally gifted and insightful person who taught me so much about the empathy deficit. Naleya was one of my undergraduate students, she soon became an honours student and is about to commence her PhD. She set me on a path where I became determined to fully understand this elusive construct and to discover ways to teach and assess students’ empathy skills.
So often you find that the students you are trying to inspire are the ones that end up inspiring you ~ Sean Junkins
Too often as educators we are short-sighted; seeing only the immediate impact of our teaching on students, but forgetting that every hour of every day a nurse is providing person-centred, safe and effective care because of something they learned from us. Emails like the one below remind us of the impact of our teaching …
I had to share this moment with you! I have been in hospital having surgery. I was extremely impressed at the precise way procedures were carried out by one of the nurses, especially with taking obs and the pain management etc. She was fantastic, not missing a detail in all the procedures she was doing. So much so that I commented on the professional way she went about her duties. It prompted me to ask where she had trained and it was Newcastle.
The conversation continued and she mentioned learning about a girl called Vanessa. She said she had never forgotten what she had learned about patient safety from Vanessa’s story. I then let her know that I was Vanessa’s father. She became a bit overwhelmed and said she would never forget that moment.