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Men in Nursing

Navigating the Road to Nursing Leadership

Blake K. Smith MSN, RN

President, American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN)

The difference in one dreaming and one living out that dream is the ability to notice the door of opportunity and making the decision to step through it. I have found out that it is not always what you say to someone but how you say it. How do you make someone feel leaving a conversation, and then do you deliver on what you say or promise?

I have learned not to get caught up in the specific words of the conversation, but mean what you say based on your unwavering values and principles.

Demonstrating nursing leadership

That is who we are as nurses. It is the reason why we have been voted No. 1 in Forbes for being the most trusted profession. We are trusted to lead because of what we believe in and our genuineness towards others. John McCain once said, “There is nothing more liberating in life than fighting for a cause that is bigger than yourself.”

Advice to aspiring nurses

  1. Someone else’s struggles are our struggles. Everything can be linked back to one’s well-being through the impact of our social determinants of health in our environment. Always think big picture and how you can impact someone’s life. Do not limit your impact to a patient’s acute stay or office visit. Be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.
  2. Show me, do not tell me. We do not get tenure outside of academia. We only have the leverage of our value. Bring your A-game every day to demonstrate your value to patients and colleagues.
  3. There is no greatness without adversity. Nursing is a very difficult profession, but one of such great reward.
  4. Complacency is the greatest threat to excellence. It is OK to reflect and be proud of what you have achieved or helped others achieve, but do not ever become satisfied.
  5. I live by the notion that I am the reflection of the top five people I interact with in my life. When you change the people you surround yourself with, it leads you to change the environment to allow you to grow. The environment will then change your perspective on life, ultimately providing the experience and wisdom to change others’ lives.

Take the lead

Do not wait for others to prepare and set the path for you. You prepare yourself for the path. Life is not going to be fair, and sometimes the chips will be against you. If you prepare yourself to the best of your ability and surround yourself with great individuals, you will succeed with whatever you put your mind to.

The most important part is to make sure you share your journey to inspire others to pay it forward as those before you provided the opportunity for your growth. Without paying it forward, all of your accomplishments gather dust and are meaningless.  In the words of Chadwick Boseman from the movie “Black Panther,” “Let those who have been watered, be water.”

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