The National Nursing Forum (NNF) is the Australian College of Nursing’s (ACN) signature leadership and education conference. I was fortunate enough to once again attend this incredible event which brings together nurses from across Australia. This year is my third year NNF and they keep getting better and better. I am lucky that I am able to meet new people every year and catch up with some delegates from previous years. I learned many lessons from the conference and would like to share three of my key points from this year.
- When someone taps you on the shoulder and offers you a rare opportunity – never turn it down.
A classic quote from Sir Richard Branson is “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” This quote was certainly reinforced multiple times at the speed leading sessions and during morning tea breaks at the NNF. Senior leaders often said they would have been happy to work on the wards or departments for their whole career, but their manager had noticed something unique about them and offered them an incredible opportunity, from which they were offered an chance to lead a team. Even though they were unsure, they took the leap of faith and haven’t looked back since.
- Get involved!
A common fact mentioned throughout the forum was how nurses make up nearly half the health care workforce and how influential we can be as a unified body. Getting involved with professional organisations is a great way to meet like-minded people, learn about issues that are occurring in other organisations and enable you to contribute to the issues that are affecting your practice. If you are eager to contribute to evidence-based decision making but not sure where to start, then becoming involved with a professional body such as ACN may be an opportunity to have an impact on changing practice more broadly.
- Nurses can, and do influence policy
One of the big takeaway lessons from this year’s forum is that nurses can and do influence policy. There are huge opportunities to influence the direction of health policy in our workplaces and Australia. We can do this by building networks within and outside the profession, getting to know our local members of parliament, participating in the political process and even just getting involved with some of our workplace committees. Like Adjunct Professor John G Kelly AM FACN (DLF) said, we have unique insights into the health care system due to our proximity to patients and the trust the public has in our profession.
Since attending the NNF, I’ve been inspired to continue engaging with ACN’s Communities of Interest and Region Groups and I’ll introduce myself to my local,state and federal members of parliament. Finally, when an opportunity comes my way to support our profession, I’ll make sure I say yes– even if I have to learn how to do it later!
Christopher Hinder MACN is a registered nurse and an ACN Emerging Nurse Leader.