NFLA gave lift to my leadership journey

By Jennifer Embree | 09/13/2016

Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy helped me spread my wings.

Jennifer EmbreeWhen I applied to the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy (NFLA), I had no idea how impactful the experience would be on my life. I formed lifelong relationships, enhanced my leadership talents, broadened my scope of influence, and increased my impact in my organization. I transformed into a faculty leader.
 
Through the Elsevier Foundation and the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, I came into my own. I cannot thank both organizations and their leaders enough for the experience they provided for me.
 
As a former leader in practice, I was fairly comfortable with my leadership skills as a nurse executive. Moving into academics was like being transplanted to another world. The language, acronyms, processes, and logistics were all different. Even though colleagues at my school were supportive, I felt like an outsider having to prove myself—just as I did as a novice nurse.
 
The NFLA helped me to bare my soul, be open to change, and welcome mentoring and coaching. An emotional time for me, the first workshop released a floodgate of tears as well as other emotions. Our entire cohort began to recognize each other’s needs for growth and development as faculty leaders.
 
Jennifer Embree and her advisersMy Mentor, Nancy Sharts-Hopko, PhD, RN, FAAN, an experienced leader and faculty member, knew just what I needed to shine my star. Supporting, guiding, and gently nudging me when I needed it, she knew the answers. My Faculty Advisor, Ainslie Nibert, PhD, RN, FAAN—also an experienced leader and vested in the NFLA experience—helped Sharts-Hopko and me navigate the Academy. Our experience was a smooth ride on Nibert’s magic carpet, avoiding mountains and valleys and flying above the clouds of leadership. We gathered that eagle’s view, using business principles to keep us on track.
 
The NFLA’s Mentors and Faculty Advisors, as well as my fellow Scholars, were wonderful resources. What an outstanding experience it was to have the support from fabulous leaders, faculty, and experts!
 
My project was a Master’s in Nursing Leadership in Health Systems Program review. Drawing in staff, faculty, and a student became a challenging experience that was continually morphing. The groundwork of this project will be extremely important as we revamp this program at our school in the near future.
 
As I encourage newer faculty to apply for the NFLA, I continue to pay forward the gifts I have received through the experience. Providing faculty mentoring, connecting people and resources, and exemplifying servant leadership, the NFLA continues its impact on my ability to guide others.
 
How have I changed? As an introvert, I have become more assertive. I step out on the ledge and sometimes I jump—not knowing if I will end up in a swamp or a spa. But whatever the experience, I am prepared for additional growth. I learned that I am a planner, and I have become even more proactive so that I determine how I will need to flex in advance.
 
Also, I more fully recognize the importance of work-life balance. I easily say, “Thank you for the offer, but I am unable to take that on at this time,” and I name others who might love the opportunity. If the request is in line with my focus as a faculty leader, I determine my “bandwidth” to accept additional responsibilities and carefully weigh what is doable.
 
How have my fellow cohort members changed? I have been so honored to witness their remarkable change, growth, and increased confidence. They had so much talent to start with, but the NFLA helped uncover anything that was holding them back. The relationships that we formed were a joy to behold, and it was so exciting to see and hear my colleagues’ success stories. As a new faculty leader, I basked in their success and am proud to be included in such a prestigious cohort.
 
If you wonder if the NFLA is for you, apply and do not look back. Spread your wings and keep looking up—you can be the next faculty leader! 
 
Jennifer Embree, DNP, RN, NE-BC, CCNS, is a clinical assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Nursing and Magnet coordinator at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
 
More information about the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy.
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