interdisciplinary collaborations, take on roles with increased responsibilities, and demonstrate a commitment to patient safety and quality care. Attending leadership development programs, mentorship from experienced nurse leaders, and staying updated on best practices in healthcare administration can also further enhance your leadership capabilities.
Communication Skills: Effective communication with patients, families, colleagues, and others, is paramount as nurses need to understand their patients’ needs, connect the dots with other care providers, and be skilled in providing patient education support.
Innovative Mindset: Figuring out how to best meet the needs of your patients requires being innovative. For example, Okoli’s research into mental and behavioral health care has involved finding different, more relevant ways to connect with patients including using comic books to enhance mental health literacy. Every patient is different, and nurses need to think outside the box to find what works best in each situation.
Confidence and Competence: Nursing demands confidence and competence, especially in advanced practice roles where nurses have more responsibility. But confidence builds with time and experience and it’s important to give yourself grace and patience in getting there. To help build confidence, Okoli suggests seeking opportunities to learn and apply new clinical skills, engage with diverse patient populations, and confront challenges head-on. In addition, embracing your role as an advocate for patients and taking the initiative to communicate effectively with the healthcare team can boost your self-assurance.
Being Ethical: Okoli believes that nursing, as a profession, requires a strong ethical foundation due to the profound impact it has on the lives of patients.
“To be a nurse, you need strong core values. You have to be highly ethical [and] have a good sense that what you do impacts life and death in many instances,” the associate professor shares.
The Role of Mentorship
While self-doubt can be a natural part of any career journey, Okoli extols the virtues of mentorship and the guidance it can provide especially for nursing:
“Mentors are indispensable. I’ve had several mentors throughout my nursing career. They can help you identify your best qualities and talk to you about some of the things that you might want to work on and improve. Mentors often have also walked the journey so they can anticipate some of the challenges you might face as you are walking your journey.” Okoli emphasizes that good mentors are always eager to guide the next generation, but they need to be sought out. He shares his own experience of not initially having role models who looked like him in the nursing profession, being both African American and male.
“If you’re not currently seeing many individuals who look like you in the profession, don’t be too worried. Look for those individuals who you want to be like and are where you want to go; those could become your mentors, even though they may not look like you,” Okoli advises.
Okoli also highlights the reciprocal learning that can take place between mentors and mentees. He notes that the newer generations often possess a natural adeptness in certain areas and that experienced individuals can learn from their insights.
Okoli’s Advice to Aspiring Nursing Students
As a mentor, Okoli offers valuable advice to nursing students:
Journal: He suggests keeping a journal to write down concerns and self-doubts. Journaling allows you to externalize your thoughts and gain perspective on whether the concerns are real or perceived.
Talk to Somebody You Trust: Seeking guidance from someone you trust, be it peers or instructors, can help dispel self-doubt and provide alternative perspectives and solutions to challenges.
Get Involved in a Professional Nursing Organization: These organizations offer great opportunities for networking, professional development, mentorship, and learning.
While the path to success may not always be clear, having the right values, seeking out mentors, and being open to learning from those around you can help you overcome self-doubt and achieve your goals in nursing.
To learn more about a career in nursing, go to nursing.jnj.com.
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