With a history nearly 100 years long, Mennonite College of Nursing is grounded deeply in tradition. We pride ourselves on developing competent nurses with a comprehensive understanding of their profession. The pillars of a good bedside nurse—compassion, care, and clinical excellence—are in our blood.

But, as we look to the future, it is clear that the role of the nurse must change. Advances in technology, an aging baby boomer population, and changes to the insurance system are just a few of the factors driving that change. Put simply, things as they exist today cannot persist.

At MCN, we see that as an opportunity.

“I believe that nurses, as the largest profession in healthcare, must have a strong voice as the industry begins to change. Our Leadership Academy was born out of that idea,” said Dean Judy Neubrander. “As healthcare shifts, more and more often nurses are going to need to step into leadership roles. That is already happening; many of our grads report being pegged for leadership roles as soon as two years post-graduation.”

Nurses are the largest profession in healthcare, with more than 3.1 million RNs in the United States. Mennonite College of Nursing’s Leadership Academy aims to help a generation of nurses find their voice while preparing them with personal, team, and business leadership skills.

Mennonite College of Nursing Leadership Academy

Open to all nursing students in their senior year, participation in the 2017 Leadership Academy was optional. Students were offered the opportunity, asked to apply, and told the experience would be for professional development, not for credit.

Tom Carroll, a former Fortune 500 executive and the academy’s facilitator, reflected, “The 2017 Leadership Academy was an amazing experience. We covered many topics, including strengths based leadership, team, and business leadership. Because this was our first year, I was unsure how many students would commit to 25 hours of development for no credit. Each student who participated took a risk in signing up for something that was unknown and unproven during a critical year in their education. We ended up with 18 students, which was a perfect pilot.”

Leadership, Innovation, Networking, and Knowledge

Facilitator Tom Carroll and panelists Ken Beutke, Elizabeth Myers, John Hesse, Judy Neubrander, and John Vozenilek.

The 2017 Leadership Academy culminated on Tuesday, November 7, when Mennonite College of Nursing brought together a panel of industry leaders from all walks of healthcare to discuss the future of the industry. Panelists included:

  • Ken Beutke, MHA, M.S. – president, OSF Heathcare Saint Elizabeth Medical Center
  • Elizabeth Myers, B.S.N. – founder and chief executive officer, 2X2 Health: Private Health Concierge
  • John Hesse, MHA – vice president business development, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, Advocate Eureka Hospital
  • Judy Neubrander, Ed.D., FNP-BC – dean, Mennonite College of Nursing
  • John Vozenilek, MD – vice president and chief medical officer, Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center

Throughout the course of the evening, topics including technology, nursing education, the role of the nurse leader, and mentoring were discussed.

“The Leadership, Innovation, Networking and Knowledge (LINK) gathering was a perfect culmination of all that our students learned during the leadership academy. The panel challenged them to think in new and innovative ways and the networking gave them an opportunity to test their new communication skills and market themselves and future nursing leaders,” said Dean Neubrander.

We all have strengths and areas for opportunity

Leadership Academy participants Mikayla Cooksey (left) and Alison Alcazar (right).

Leadership Academy participants Mikayla Cooksey (left) and Alison Alcazar (right).

54 people attended, including recruiters from four area hospitals, community members, faculty, area business leaders, and all 18 students. Students were provided with business cards, and were able to practice networking in a safe space.

Mikayla Cooksey, one of the seniors who opted to participate, appreciated that safe space. “Leadership Academy allowed me to learn in a space where I was not too intimidated to try something because I was afraid to mess up. I was able to begin learning how to be an effective leader that gains respect without asking for it. I feel like I can come off very brash and abrupt, like, ‘we’re going to get it done.’ I feel like this academy taught me to work with a lot of other personality types. I learned how to get others invested and not just drag people along with what I want to do.”

Alison Alcazar, another senior participant, agreed. “We all have strengths and areas of opportunity. Leadership Academy taught me that I need to embrace who I am. I can change, I can tweak things, but I am who I am. I need to learn to be OK with my strengths and aware of my weaknesses so that I can surround myself with people who complement me.”

Failure is just a lesson about to be learned

Throughout the course of the Academy, feedback—for both the participants and the organizers—was critical.

“Most students are used to feedback through grades, but getting feedback on strengths, style, personal brand, presentation skills, and how you show up is rare. We created safe space to try new skills and, while not always comfortable, you knew you were safe and people were there to make you stronger. And if you face planted into the ground, we were all there to laugh at you and then help you up. No one was spared an opportunity to learn that failure is just a lesson about to be learned,” Carroll explained.

He continued, “Going in, I could not have predicted the incredible quality of the students and their desire to learn and grow beyond the formal classroom. For me, this was one of the most affirming events I have ever experienced in my career. To see the impact on the lives of young future leaders was awe-inspiring.”

Mennonite College of Nursing Leadership Academy

2017 Mennonite College of Nursing Leadership Academy

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