National Nurses Week ended May 12th. It was a great opportunity to reflect on the important nurses who changed the course of the profession.

Today, nurses are still serving as role models to those around them. In recognition, we honor a NursingCenter member, Karlene Kerfoot PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, as this month’s Nurse On the Move. Currently the Chief Clinical Integration Officer at API, Kerfoot also worked in patient care administration, clinical practice, and healthcare consulting. She served in adjunct academic positions and was the Corporate Chief Nursing and Patient Care Officer at three of the largest healthcare systems in the U.S. She earned a doctorate in nursing from the University of Illinois and a master’s and BSN from the University of Iowa.

I spoke with her to learn a little more about her outstanding work and to discover what she sees for the future of nursing.

Q: Why did you choose nursing as a profession?
A: Well, it wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to go into political science, but there were limited jobs there. I know I wanted to make a difference. With nursing, it’s a great opportunity. You can travel and do different things. I forgot about political science and never looked back.

Q: What encouraged you to continue your education as a nurse?
A: I wanted to be able to have a choice of options as I got older. With a master’s or a PhD, you have more choices. I know I wanted to work in a complex setting where I could combine research and so on. I thought, “20 years from now, what will people want? They’ll want advanced degrees. I better get busy!”

Q: In your current role, what is the biggest challenge you face?
A: My biggest challenge is that many technology firms have technology people developing applications, but on the client side, the applications lack client input. I need to make sure they fit and that they are what’s needed out there and are relevant to the frontline clinical person.

Q: Nurses Week was celebrated May 6-12th. Why do you believe this week is important?
A: It’s important to understand your history and future. There are so many people who have changed the course of history, for instance Florence Nightingale. They are fabulous role models for people to look at and think, “I can change history too.”

Q: What are the top four ways nurses can avoid holding back their careers?
A: The first way to avoid holding back your career is to learn positive discontentment. Florence Nightingale said, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.” We need to value innovative people, especially those who take a positive outlook on things and who can offer solutions, not just complaints.

Second, practice “No Excuse” career development. Florence Nightingale was discontent, and it pushed her to make changes [not just give up].

Third, talk about your work in measurable outcomes. Saying “I did good work” isn’t good enough anymore. In the last 10-15 years, there’s been a push for measurement. Give examples that show things happened because of you.

Fourth, become agile with technology. Technology is everywhere. Look for what’s coming in the future and what it will mean to patients. It’s like a language you need to understand.

Q: For a nurse starting out, what would be your number one piece of advice?
A: Look ahead and think about what people will need in the future and how you can provide it. You are your own company, so you need to prepare for the future. Every three to five months, practice strategic thinking, “What have I learned and what do I need to learn?”

Q: Finally, what do you envision for the future of nursing?
A: I wish, as time goes on, nurses will be more empowered. The public says nurses are the most trusted workers and they should be involved in healthcare policy and reform. I would hope nurses become more prepared to sit at those tables and to a make a difference because nurses are the spokesperson for the patient.

Do you know the perfect nurse to be featured for Nurses On the Move? Email your submissions to ClinicalEditor@NursingCenter.com.