We’ve all heard the news about nursing workforce issues: lack of faculty, resources, and clinical sites to educate nursing students; burnout; staffing issues; nurses being dismayed with the work of nursing; and nurses leaving the profession. I want to share with you some good news – the nursing students coming into the profession and those pursuing graduate degrees are really excited about their future.
Light-Bulb Moments in Nursing Education
I have the privilege to teach for two graduate nursing programs as adjunct faculty and speak with nursing students in undergraduate programs. I experience a sense of joy when facilitating learning for these students because they are eager to acquire new knowledge and skills and to learn how to critically think. To see the “light bulb” moments when concepts come together and they understand how everything related to our bio-psycho-social being is intertwined and impacts health, truly gives me a sense of joy and hope for our profession. These students are not afraid to ask the hard questions, they want to know the why and how and offer suggestions for doing things differently.
Working with Students or New Graduates is Mutually Beneficial
In clinical practice, we know that precepting a student or a new graduate is challenging. It adds to our work, but it also makes us stop and think about why we do the things we do in clinical practice. Students and new graduates force us to relook at the research and make sure our actions are supported by the latest evidence and best practice. They also look to us to be a role model of professional practice.
Students and New Graduates are Our Next Generation of Nurse Leaders
Often, we think of those in leadership roles as those in managerial or administrative roles, but it’s much broader. Demonstrating leadership means having the ability and knowledge to guide or influence decision making; this is something all nurses do every day at the bedside and it’s what we do in our professional practice. Experienced nurses have an obligation to teach students and new nurses how to be nurse leaders who are authentic. Authentic leaders lead with their heart, have integrity, are active listeners, are transparent and develop trust. When we look at our relationships with our patients, they are based on these same characteristics. In meetings where decisions are being made, it’s the authentic leader who garners the most respect and can facilitate change.
As nurses we recognize there are times when we may not be enamored with our jobs, yet at the heart of it all, we still love being nurses. As we precept nursing students and new nurse graduates, we need to remember we are preparing our next generation of nurse leaders. We are charting our profession’s future now and these new nurses will navigate the profession into the future. Let’s make sure we invest in our future by supporting students and graduates as they embark on their career journey.