Interprofessional education project benefits obstetric staff.
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I am extremely fortunate to be passionate about my nursing career. As a child, I didn’t have a clear vision of what I wanted to be when I grew up.
When I entered college, I did not even consider nursing as a career—at least not consciously. But I am female and the oldest child in my family, and I had a parent with chronic health issues. So the writing was on the wall; I just could not read it yet.
In high school, I caught the acting bug after being the lead in the senior play. My declared college major was radio/TV broadcasting. I was going to be the next Jane Pauley. At 19, that sounded so glamorous. It didn’t take me long to realize that broadcasting was not my calling. I then declared a couple of other majors. I truly was adrift and didn’t have a sense of my professional direction.
Sometimes we need a catalyst to accelerate changes in our lives. Near the end of my sophomore year, my maternal grandmother passed away. Her passing gave me pause to reflect on my relatively short life and nudged me to grow up. One of my friends in the dorm was a nursing student, and she told me about the curriculum and the many opportunities nurses have. What was most important, though, was that she told me I could do it—that I had the skills to succeed in nursing school. She saw something in me that I hadn’t seen in myself. In retrospect, she was my first nursing mentor.
The rest is history, and I have had many nursing mentors along the way. I changed my major for the last time and graduated from nursing school at a small liberal arts college. Just before graduation, I received an invitation to be inducted as a member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI). At first, I thought the letter had been addressed to the wrong person—I had never been in honors anything! Little did I know that, several decades later, participating in STTI’s Maternal-Child Health Nurse Leadership Academy (MCHNLA) would be another milestone for me.
My first job was in labor and delivery, working the night shift at a large, urban tertiary center. What an incredible professional journey I have been privileged to travel. I have been a staff nurse, educator, manager, and nurse practitioner in both inpatient and outpatient settings—all within perinatal and women’s health nursing.
Two years ago, I decided to make a career move. I felt stagnant and needed a change. (Remember, I am a labor and delivery nurse and an adrenaline junkie!) I found myself in a new hospital system with new leadership challenges and opportunities for growth. Wanting to hone in on my leadership skills and advance my career, I looked at national nursing leadership academies.
My CNO encouraged me to apply for STTI’s Maternal-Child Health Nurse Leadership Academy. Like my friend in the dorm so many years ago, she saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. It was the nudge I needed. If you have ever applied for graduate school, you know what it’s like to apply for MCHNLA. The application process is an important step on your leadership journey because it makes you reflect on, focus, and define your professional goals.
To be honest, I already had my project in mind. Throughout my career, interprofessional education (or lack thereof) has repeatedly been a factor in nursing satisfaction and patient safety—particularly pertaining to intrapartum fetal assessment. I had seen the difference interprofessional education had made in another hospital system and wanted to implement it in my new organization.
I was delighted when a representative of STTI’s Maternal-Child Health Nurse Leadership Academy called to say I was accepted into the academy. She did, however, express concern over the magnitude of my project—but I felt confident that I could accomplish my goals. I also knew that my Mentor, Michelle Saysana, MD, FAAP, would be a huge advocate and supporter for my project, as she is medical director for quality and safety at Riley Maternity and Newborn at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. We established an interprofessional team right from the start.
During the first workshop, 12-14 April 2016, I met my Faculty Advisor, Shakira Henderson, PhD, DNP, MS, MPH, RNC-NIC, IBCLC, the third member of my awesome leadership triad. An accomplished researcher and published author, she was just what my project and I needed. Both my Mentor and Faculty Advisor believed in me and what I wanted to accomplish—but more than that, they challenged me and encouraged me to do more.
My interprofessional education project has had an impact on more than 131 obstetric care staff from nursing, midwifery, family medicine, and obstetrics. My work has led to implementation of web-based learning systems for more than 450 obstetric providers, with an engagement rate of more than 95 percent. This project will serve as a springboard for my DNP capstone project.
The two academy workshops also challenged me. The workshops aren’t packed with typical PowerPoint presentations—instead, the program embodies the philosophy of teach, then practice. We had to give our elevator speeches to each other, we networked during breaks, and we learned to solve problems together. It was awesome!
As I enter the final months of this incredible process, I am excited to present my work at STTI’s 44th Biennial Convention in October, write my first article for publication, and start my DNP program. I have also applied for leadership positions with the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) and even had the opportunity to staff the STTI booth at this year’s AWHONN convention. And last, I plan to serve as an MCHNLA Mentor, where I’ll have the opportunity to look for potential in my nursing colleagues who have not seen it in themselves.
STTI is accepting applications through 14 December 2017 for its Maternal-Child Health Nurse Leadership Academy (MCHNLA). STTI’s International Leadership Institute administers the academy mentoring program in partnership with Johnson & Johnson Corporate Contributions.
Elizabeth A. McIntire, MSN, RN, WHNP-C, is director for Riley Maternity and Newborn at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.