Because You Can't Do It Without Nurse Leaders


You can’t do it without nurses” is a common mantra among NJAC members.   Pillar 3, the Leadership Pillar, is working to make that abundantly clear through the development and recognition of nurses as leaders, regardless of role. The Leadership Pillar has four main goals: increase awareness among hospital, state and local boards and associations of the need to include nurse leaders; grow and refine a nurse leader database; establish a nurse leader mentorship program; and increase membership of nurses in the NJAC leadership pillar. To date their accomplishments are many.

Pillar Goal – Increase Awareness of the Need for Nurses on Boards

The expertise and professional guidance of nurse leaders on hospital, state and local boards is an important component to transforming healthcare in the future. Nursing input is a critical factor, not only in helping board leaders address safety and quality but, and perhaps even more important, to ensure the voice of the patient is heard.  Pillar 3 is sending this message loud and clear, through videos (listen to NJAC co-lead, David Knowlton, NJ Healthcare Quality Institute and Bob Wise, CEO, Hunterdon Healthcare System) and presentations, where Bill Pierce, RN, co-chair, NJAC Leadership Pillar and corporate director of nursing practice and performance improvement for Lourdes Health System and Mary Wachter, RN, MSN, NJAC co-lead and director, East Region Government Affairs at Genetech, spread the word. To date, Bill and Mary’s presentations have included the October 2013 American Assembly for Men in Nursing’s 38th Annual Conference; the January 2014 CCNA Action Coalition Leadership Meeting; and the American Academy of Nursing’s annual meeting

Pillar Goal – Grow and Refine the Nurse Leader’s Database  

To date, 11 nurses have been appointed to hospital boards and/or task forces and commissions as the result of NJAC and Pillar 3 efforts. The most recent additions are Judith T. Caruso, DNP, MBA, RN, EABC, FACHE, Seton Hall University, College of Nursing, Associate Dean of Business, appointed to Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, Board of Governors, and to Saint Peter’s University Hospital, Board of Trustees, and Lauren Stabinsky, MSN, RN, CEN, director of emergency services at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, appointed to the Council of Domestic Violence.  The Nurse Leader Database continues to grow and will be used as a resource to identify and promote the appointment of even more nurse leaders.

Pillar Goal – Establish a Nurse Leader Mentorship Program

Recently, the Organization for Nurse Executives of New Jersey (ONE/NJ) agreed to act as an advisor to the Leadership Pillar in establishing a mentorship program for some new groups. ONE/NJ has been recognized nationally by the American Organization of Nurse Executives for their mentorship program.  The initial program will be directed toward the development of nurse leaders in long-term care and is forecast to welcome its first participants within the next twelve months.  The mentorship focus is in line with NJAC’s recently acquired funding for a Long Term Care Nurse Residency program.

Pillar Goal – Increase Pillar 3 Membership

Led by co-chairs, Bill Pierce and Marley Nicolas, administrative director for patient care services, Community Medical Center, Pillar 3 is looking for passionate, new members who are interested in promoting nurse leadership in New Jersey.

There are many opportunities to get involved in NJAC Pillar 3 activities.  If you know of a nurse who is currently serving on, has interest in, or is being considered for a board or relevant leadership position; if you or a colleague have an interest in and/or expertise with mentorship; or if you would like to join the Coalition Leadership team, please email us at . . . because you can’t do it without nurses … and you certainly can’t do it without nurse leaders!

by New Jersey Action Coalition | April 15, 2014

Tags: new-jersey

Trina Fields

My name is Trina Fields and I am in the ABSN program at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. I will be graduating this December and the first Leadership Pillar goal to “increase awareness of the need for nurses on boards” is one that cannot be underscored enough especially for my nursing career post-graduation. This goal highlights the importance of the nurse as a leader in patient advocacy, which necessitates a nursing presence on boards at the hospital, state, and local level to deliver quality care. The critical role of the nurse to provide a voice for the patient is related to the function of the nurse throughout the delivery of care. This healthcare team member develops a rapport with the patient upon admission, sees the patient through the treatment, and is there for support during discharge. Throughout these phases, other roles are neatly interwoven in the care that are often overlooked by other members of the healthcare team and laypersons. These other roles include but are not limited to communicator, support person, counselor and educator. It is the nurse that ensures holistic and culturally sensitive care is being provided in addition to the medical treatment, nursing management, and the other therapies needed to achieve the patient’s healthcare goals. The aforementioned facets of nursing care can be further defined by the individuality of each patient such as the needs and wants to deliver holistic care (e.g. preferences for eating, bathing, socialization, and activities) and consideration of the culture, race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic background, religion, and education level to provide culturally sensitive care (e.g. preferences for prayer, religious garb, and speaking at level that is appropriate and understandable). It is evident that the nurse plays a leadership role as the patient advocate since this healthcare member is working with the patient more than any other team member throughout the various phases of the service of healthcare, plays many roles throughout the process, and is the loudest voice to ensure care is collaborative, continuous, holistic, and sensitive. Thus, the nurse is “demonstrating the personal qualities of an effective leader, such as emotional intelligence, integrity, and engagement” (Leigh, 2014, p. 1768). There was a patient that I was caring for that went into labor. The physician had gone into the patient’s room and pushed for the patient to have a caesarian section. The nurse explained to me that she had spoken to patient after and made it very clear that it was the patient’s decision on the delivery method. However, the physician inadequately explained to the patient that the baby was showing late decelerations, which warranted the caesarian section and the nurse appropriately explained that the baby was showing signs of distress and vaginal birth may cause trauma to the already struggling baby. In this instance, the nurse was offering herself as a patient advocate in terms of delivery method to this vulnerable patient and as an educator. Therefore, it is of great importance that nurses have a presence on boards at the hospital, state, and local level since these healthcare professionals have the greatest involvement with the patient’s care and remain a dominant voice in patient advocacy. The goal to grow and refine The Nurse Leader Database is exciting and serves as great resource for current nurses and recent graduates to know the names of those that are on hospital boards, task forces, and commissions. This gives all nurses the opportunity to reach out for guidance from nurses in authority and the nurses can voice and challenge the way nursing care is practiced if warranted. The third goal to implement a Nurse Leader Mentorship Program provides a great chance for nurses to be formally trained as leaders in the long-term care setting. Lastly, the goal to increase Pillar 3 Membership will help further nursing leadership in New Jersey. I look forward to learning more about the database, mentorship program, and the number of Pillar 3 memberships. I understand that as an upcoming graduate it is extremely important to know what policies, nursing goals, and resources are current to provide the best well-rounded care that I can for all of my patients. Leigh, J.A. (2014). Reconstructing practice-based educator roles through effective practice-education partnerships. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 23, 1767-1769. doi: 10.1111/jocn.12381
Posted on: July 7, 2014, 11:15 pm

Ashley Binkevitz

My name is Ashley Binkevitz, I am a Rutgers University ABSN student due to graduate this coming December 2014. The title of this post really caught my eye: “Because you can’t do it without nurse leaders”. Throughout the ABSN program, we students have heard many times about the importance for nurses to take on a leadership role. Through the years, nurses have gained more and more independence within the practice of nursing, while developing a great amount of respect for the nursing profession. Nurses need to be appreciated as professional, competent leaders within the healthcare setting. I believe it is important for nurses to receive recognition as leaders in every setting and in the many different roles that they play. One of the pillar goals stated in this post is to “increase membership of nurses in the NJAC leadership pillar”. It is the responsibility of the nurses’ to become involved on a larger scale leadership role. It goes into the hands of the nurses on an individual level to advocate for the nursing profession and increase recognition of the leadership roles they play. As we advocate for our patients on a daily basis, it is time to increase advocacy on a political level within the hospital, state and local organizations. According to the Institute of Medicine (2010), nurses working together with the government, businesses, health care organizations, professional associations and the insurance industry have the power to improve current regulatory, business, and organization conditions to help ensure that the health care system provides seamless, affordable, quality care that is accessible to all and leads to improved health outcomes. But nurses need to realize the importance of their involvement. Nurses see the first hand experiences of their patients and in that way experience the healthcare system first hand, making their input extremely valuable. Nurses are able to see where the healthcare system needs improvement and what changes need to be implemented. To implement change and improve overall care, the voices of the nurses’ need to be heard. Which brings us to the pillar goal of “increasing awareness of the need for nurses on boards”, which includes hospital, state, and local boards. With increased involvement, nurses can change the future of healthcare and advocate for their patients and fellow nurses on a more political level. Nurses have the ability to speak for their patients and improve the overall distribution of care. As Pillar 3 sends the message for increasing nurse involvement, nurses on the individual level need to listen. And not just listen, but to act. Act to increase the representation of nursing, to demonstration the development of the nursing leadership role, to improve the quality of care delivered to our patients. Establishing a nurse leader mentorship program is an important pillar goal as well. This program is beginning with nurse leaders in long-term care but can hopefully one day include a variety of health care settings, allowing nurse leaders to emerge from all healthcare settings. The American Nurses Association looks to increase leadership impact and enhance nurses’ careers (American Nurses Association, 2014). There are a variety of programs and offerings for nurses at all career levels. Nurses can learn more about these programs by visiting the ANA Leadership Institute website at With such programs, nurse leaders can emerge with the knowledge and ability to excel in their career while representing the interests of nurses. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) calls on nurses to take a greater role in America’s increasingly complex healthcare system. The IOM has recognized the importance of the nursing profession and acknowledges the need for nurses to take a leadership role in all settings (American Nurses Association, 2014). Nurses need to make use of the resources available to them and commit to making a difference. As more nurse leaders emerge, we can change the future of healthcare. Ashley Binkevitz - Rutgers University ABSN Student American Nursing Association (2014) Leadership retrieved from American Nursing Association (2014) IOM Future of Nursing Report Retrieved from Institute of Medicine (2010) The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health Retrieved from
Posted on: July 8, 2014, 8:21 pm


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