Thursday, July 28, 2016

Nurses rock...and lead!

Here's  “Nurses : Vital Leaders in our Valley, a column I submitted to our local newspaper (The Fresno Bee)'s "Valley Voices" column.  They didn't print it.  Can you guess why?  I have a theory.

They have printed me before; see a previous column they printed here:

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"Some Confessions from a Christian Pastor"

Anyway..  Maybe the powers that Bee will see this and change their mind.(

PS: Video  below of me  speaking to nurses as they graduate; related to this article's theme (click the "backstory link" if you don't see video embedded below):
video backstory

“Nurses : Vital Leaders in our Valley” by Dave Wainscott
Dave Wainscott is pastor of Third Day Fresno, and adjunct instructor at Fresno Pacific University.

Nurses are crucial to vital, visionary leadership in our valley.

But not all nurses see themselves as leaders.

Indeed, not all nurses are always leaders.  But all nurses are sometimes leaders; and any great nurse can and will lead successfully and courageously, if…no, when… summoned for a season into leadership. Such leadership may even extend far beyond the walls and halls of their hospital or institution.

As a pastor in our valley for thirty years, and thus one who has logged countless hours at hospital bedsides catching close-up vignettes of nurse/patient interactions, I am in awe of the selfless care…and profound leadership…that nurses provide.

 As one who also teaches nursing students in the RN to BSN program at Fresno Pacific University’s various valley campuses, and thus one who has personally witnessed the astounding extra-mile commitment of hundreds of local nurses, I am in awe of the tireless tenacity…and profound leadership….that nurses provide.

As one who was has occasionally needed the services of nurses and hospitals myself,  and thus one who has willfully surrendered my healing and very life to capable nurses, I am inspired beyond words, and must brag to our valley about the relentless self-giving …and profound leadership…that nurses provide.

“Are you an angel?,” I almost asked  a nurse aloud once.  As I was finding my way out of the fog of anesthesia that accompanied a procedure, the first thing I saw upon re-entry was the unfeigned smile of a nurse, and the first voice that nurse gently calling my name.  She acted as if she had nothing else to do in that moment.  As if I was helping her.   I was not client or customer; not an annoyance or another number, but her current sacred opportunity to extend grace and practical help. It seemed her only calling in that moment was to ensure that I was oriented, alright and welcomed back to reality with extraordinary encouragement. You can see how for a split second, the thought crossed my mind that she was literally angelic.

As much as you may appreciate along with me that nurses can be helpful and even life-savers, I am aware that some are not finding my thesis that nurses make stellar leaders immediately obvious.   I invite us to consider the same thesis, as articulated by Grossman and Valica, in their exceptional book, “The New Leadership Challenge:  Creating the Future of Nursing” (F.A. Davis, 2013):

“One of the areas in which nurses are most skilled is communication.  Nurses know how to listen.  They know how to encourage people to keep trying when there seems to be no hope of success..They know how to encourage others to respond openly.  And they know how to avoid barriers to communication.  Therefore, nurses are particularly advantaged when one examines this element of leadership.
book link
The public puts a great deal of trust in nurses, and the credibility of nurses is strong in the eyes of patients, families, legislators, and the general public.  Nurses who are providing leadership would therefore do well to take advantage of this trust by communicating their vision at every opportunity.
Such opportunities are, in fact, more available than many nurses realize: serving on a committee at one’s institution or in one’s professional association, speaking at a conference, writing for a professional journal or local newspaper or organizational newsletter, meeting with a legislator, talking with patients and their families, being interviewed on a campus radio station, holding office in one’s professional organization, campaigning for a candidate or a  particular cause, confronting a healthcare team member, networking at professional meetings, forming alliances with other health care professionals, seeking and using a mentor, and so on.  We are limited only by our own imagination and our willingness to take risks.” (Grossman and Valica, p. 14)

I don’t know about you, but that exhortation resonates with me. I wish you could feel firsthand the endless potential  that Drs. Stacy Manning, Stacy Wise and Peggy Avakian  (directors of nursing and health care programs at Fresno Pacific) and I, see in “our” brave nurses.  I’m sure other local educators of nurses agree.

Allow me to use this public forum to offer heartfelt thanks for the thankless job that nurses routinely bless us with.

And allow me a throw-down; a challenge, to any nurses reading: step out, risk well;  trust and lean into your “angelic” leadership instincts.  Precisely because of your self-effacing “I’m not a leader,” you may well be summoned to a next-level leadership in your city, valley and beyond.
Lead on.