With great power comes great responsibility (Voltaire).
Those of us who enjoy the awareness of and opportunities for NP practice owe great debt to our NP-founders and leaders who have spent 50 years grasping earlier golden moments and advancing health care. Our responsibility is now to our patients, as well as to future NPs and those they will serve. This blog series is a call to action to NPs to pay it forward in a number of ways, such as preparing others through preceptorships and mentorships, supporting advocacy efforts, continuing to demonstrate and document outcome excellence, staying engaged in professional life, remaining centered yet skeptical, and continually planning and preparing for future needs. My call to action is incomplete, but includes a number of challenges for readers. The list is fairly long, but think of actions that are missing.
Be a preceptor. William Osler is quoted as, “I desire no other epitaph . . . than the statement that I taught medical students in the wards, as I regard this by far the most useful and important work I have been called upon to do.” Every NP practicing today benefited from NPs and other clinicians opening their practices to provide clinical education essential to our training. There are challenges associated with serving as clinical preceptors. However, this experience is critical to promoting future clinical excellence. While only a limited percentage of NPs will choose the role of academician, the role of preceptor is a most useful and important one, with great consequence for assuring the continued competence of NPs entering the workforce.
Be a mentor and be mentored. Just as preceptors are crucial to NP student training, mentors are invaluable to continued growth. Napoleon Hill described successful individuals as “like a man with extended hands. One reaching upward to be pulled by those who went before him. And the other reaching downward to bring people along.” Mentors are not only important to novices, but aide advancement at every stage of professional life. Be centered. I’m a big fan of Simon Sineks’ work and his call to “Start with Why”. He reminds us it is important to remember our why—why we do what we do—our purpose. The ability to maintain focus and conviction on what we believe is important—the tremendous patient need for high quality health care and our ability to contribute to meeting that need—is essential as we move into the future during a time of much change and disruption. We must know and shout our WHY loudly so that others understand not only what it is that we do, but the meaning behind it, inspiring others.
Be a skeptic. I also believe that practicing skepticism is part of remaining centered. We must carefully chose those and what we follow, looking for evidence of congruence with our beliefs and purpose. John Dewey described skepticism as the “mark and even the pose of the educated mind.” But it can sometimes be easy to be led astray and our choice to follow a direction lends credibility.
Be an exemplar of NP excellence–measure and share your outcomes. In addition to practicing evidence-based practice, strive for practice-based evidence. Share your outcomes, what works and what does not, with your peers and others. Include both clinical and financial outcomes. Be strategic. In the words of Denis Waitley, “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised. ” Think “what if. . .” when faced with options. A case of preparing to be surprised occurred last year when the Nebraska legislators unanimously passed legislation that would have changed the requirement for practice agreements for Nebraska NPs, only to have the governor veto. The following year with a new governor, the bill was successful. But we must be prepared for contingencies in everything we do.
Be a life-long learner. The time we spend in our academic training is fleeting in the perspective of our professional career. Clinicians should seek to learn something new every day. Beyond accredited continuing education, be a constant reader and seek our new clinical experiences, always looking for the evidence behind what is being learned.
Be engaged. Maintain membership in one or more professional organizations. There are NP organizations at the state and local level, providing opportunities for broadening and strengthening your professional network. If you are in a specialty practice area, identify a membership organization in that specialty, as well.
Be an advocate. Advocacy and activism are critical for our patients and profession. Certainly we advocate for our patient’s health with each visit. But we must also advocate for a fair and just health care systems evidence based interventions at higher levels. Advocacy toes beyond our daily clinical practice and requires dedication and passion.
Now it’s your turn to think of other ways to ensure we are able to take advantage of opportunities within reach as we approach our Golden Moments. What ever you do, “own it” and approach it enthusiastically. In words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.