Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine
This paper discusses a leadership program implemented in the School of Nursing at Edith Cowan University to develop leadership in fourth semester nursing students enrolled in a three year undergraduate nursing degree to prepare them for the dynamic ‘changing world’ environment of healthcare. Students were invited to apply to undertake the program in extracurricular time. Nineteen students applied to the program and ten were chosen to participate in the program. The numbers were limited to ten to equal selected industry leader mentors. The leadership program is based on the belief that leadership is a function of knowing oneself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and taking effective action to realize one’s own potential. It is asserted that within the complexity of health care it is vital that nurses enter the clinical setting with leadership capabilities because graduate nurses must take the lead to act autonomously, make decisions at the point of service, and develop a professional vision that fits with organizational and professional goals Thus, the more practice students have with leadership skills, the more prepared they will be to enter the workforce. The program consists of three components: leadership knowledge, leadership skills and leadership-in-action. The leadership program focuses on the student-participant’s ability to be self reflective on personal leadership qualities, critically appraise, and work within a team as well as to take responsibility for ensuring the achievement of team goals as leader. The program is practical and is reliant on the involve ment of leader mentors who hold positions of leadership with the health industry in Western Australia. Students completed a pre and post program questionnaire related to abilities and skills in leadership. This paper discusses pre and post evaluation data against program outcomes. The findings demonstrate that participants of the program increased their ability to influence, persuade and motivate others; to effectively communicate; to team build and work collaboratively; to develop problem solving and perseverance skills to overcome obstacles; and to serve as agents for positive change.