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Rounds with Leadership - Leading the Way

Published July 26, 2017

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a new forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

July 26, 2017

This week, AACN is delighted to host an enthusiastic group of member deans and senior faculty in the Colorado mountains for one of the association’s signature leadership development programs, the annual Summer Seminar. Dr. Kathy Pearson with the Wharton School is presenting at this year’s event, which focuses on developing leaders who are nimble while remaining strategic, have the ability to work in teams without losing perspective, and are comfortable managing uncertainty while promoting sustainability. 

Nursing needs leaders who understand how to adapt systems and are in positions where they can be influential in shaping the future of care delivery. As the largest component of the healthcare workforce, nurses hold the power to drive the implementation of evidence-based interventions and achieve positive outcomes. To maximize the impact we can have locally and at the national level, nurses must play an active role in all aspects of healthcare leadership.

What does it take to be a leader today? At the most basic level, a leader is someone who inspires others to follow. These individuals are usually not afraid to challenge the status quo, they take thoughtful risks, and embrace the need for innovation and meaningful change. The best leaders are those who strive for excellence and motivate others to follow suit. 

In the academic environment, nurse educators are uniquely well-positioned to influence future stewards of the profession. The example they set can either inspire nurses to step out front or diminish their prospects to lead. To succeed at cultivating the next generation of leaders, faculty should role model positive behaviors while offering students the opportunity to practice their leadership skills. It is our responsibility to not only show nurses what it takes to be a leader, but also foster a safe, supportive environment where students can develop and sharpen these essential skills.

Support for aspiring leaders comes in many forms, both formal and informal. Current leaders are encouraged to serve as mentors to help others benefit from their leadership journey and lived experiences. Future leaders should actively seek out opportunities to strengthen their potential, including structured programs designed to build new skills and heighten self-awareness.

Leadership development has been a cornerstone of AACN’s programs and services since the association’s inception nearly 50 years ago. Designed to provide enrichment experiences to top administrators and prepare emerging academic leaders, AACN’s programs serve all members of the nursing school enterprise, including deans, associate deans, program directors, faculty at all levels, administrative staff, and students. The association’s diverse mix of leadership programs includes conferences, webinars, on-demand resources, and competitive offerings. To find out more about AACN’s leadership programs, see

AACN is currently engaged in an effort to restructure our approach to leadership development to ensure that our programming is robust and meets the needs of all members and stakeholders. Stay tuned as news of this exciting work unfolds over the next few months.

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