The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) Mid-Career Nurse Leadership Program provides nurses who are passionate about advancing their careers with the skills to lead change in the nursing profession. Participants are supported through personal development, career coaching and learning sets. The program’s inaugural participants undertook a five-day intensive course in Canberra in June 2019 and have continued to be supported with learning sets and coaching while they complete a project or quality improvement initiative. Our Mid-Career Nurse Leadership Program NurseClick series profiles four of the inaugural participants’ experiences in the program.
ACN caught up with Nalani Cox MACN, who is the Clinical Prioritisation Criteria Coordinator, Metro South Health, and is currently enrolled in the Mid-Career Nurse Leadership Program.
On why she applied for the Program, Nalani says, “I was at a point in my career where I was looking for future direction and I wanted to understand the clinical connection nursing has. I really enjoy the management side of nursing as well and I wanted to engage in something that would help me develop myself with something that was a little out-of-the-box.”
She adds, “It (the Program) seemed like a great opportunity and honestly, I didn’t think I’d pull it off because only 22 people in the country were being selected for the Program.”
Explaining the ‘out-of-the-box’ factor, Nalani says, “I have a really strong interest in self-education and self-improvement. I’ve been to a lot of education sessions where the content is delivered and you are sitting there and thinking, ‘Oh that’s really interesting’ but at the same time, you are wondering, ‘Well, how do I use that to grow?’
“The Program address that issue. Not only do you learn in theory, but also how to apply solutions in a practical setting. This course was particularly motivating in terms of the high-level access we had to some amazing presenters who were keen to be involved. To watch them share their understanding of the profession, their authenticity and their journey was great. To learn usable skills that we can take to our workplaces was amazing.”
Nalani adds, “It’s also the first Program which boasts of nurses from all over the country!”
Participants describing their experiences in the Mid-Career Nurse Leadership Program during a video interview at the 2019 National Nursing Forum in Hobart.
Talking about one of the speakers, Adjunct Professor Sue Hawes FACN, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, NT, Nalani says, “Sue’s ability to acknowledge that it’s okay for one not to know what their journey is, and to be open to jumping into your next career step, resonated with a lot of us. Her advice about personal branding was invaluable too.”
Another speaker Nalani spoke of was Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN. “I really appreciate the time Kylie spent with us as well. She told us a lot about public speaking, presenting yourself, body language. These things don’t usually get demonstrated. The one-on-one session where she reviewed our CVs was very practical and valuable,” she says.
But these weren’t just the only highlights for Nalani, who counts the five-day workshop in June in Canberra as one the most interesting experiences of the Program. “Every single topic we discussed over those five days was made interesting. Even though we were in that room from 7am-5pm, we never felt as though we’d left a room not having learnt something. We didn’t just sit there, we actively engaged in every session.”
She adds, “The energy was palpable because we were all there for similar – and yet different – reasons and we could relate to each other’s situations a lot.”
Elaborating on the learning sets that are part of the Program, Nalani tells us, “The learning sets are an opportunity to be facilitated by great nursing leaders, to present some real-world challenges at work. It’s an opportunity for us to listen and try to understand those issues. The idea is not to provide solutions, but ask challenging questions, to get the person who’s experiencing the issue to review the problem from a different perspective, to raise thoughts around it and to get a more robust understanding of the problem.”
In conclusion, Nalani adds, “It’s easy to lose confidence in yourself as a practitioner and a nurse who’s following a purely clinical pathway, it’s easy to lose focus on what you can bring to the table. The Program has taught me not only to back myself and my decisions but also not to be afraid of asking for support from people who have that knowledge.”