Interview with a Nurse Leader who works in the Intensive Care Unit in DePaul Medical Center

Nurse Leader Interview: Learning from One Another

Nurse leaders do not need to be in senior managerial positions nor are they required to possess “best vision of practice”, but must translate explicitly their knowledge and values into behaviors that are observable and motivate others to follow their lead. In order to be an effective leader, it is imperative that one possess the qualities of self-awareness, confidence, effective team working skills competence and the necessary political awareness. Tee, Brown & Carpenter (2012), points that leadership is possible anywhere from self-leadership to leading a clinical area and individualized care units. The paper presents an interview with a nurse leader who works in the intensive care unit in DePaul Medical Center.

The Nurse Leader Functions and Roles

            Located in Norfolk, Virginia, DePaul Medical Center is a surgical and general medical hospital. The center has diverse workforce and various care units, with Sarah Watkins (real name withheld for purpose of confidentiality) the lead nurse in hospital’s intensive care unit. The hospital serves diverse patients from the local area and those who visit for specialized treatment from other areas outside Virginia. The interview was carried with Sarah having been impressed with her dedication to her nursing role, her immense experience and knowledge in nursing care.

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Educational Background

            The nurse leader interview with Sarah began with a discussion about her educational background, which revealed a professional with in-depth knowledge in nursing care and a dedicated individual with amazing leadership skills. Sarah Watkins revealed to me that her desire to become a nurse begun during her early years as a high school teenager (Sarah, 2017). Having encountered numerous challenges in her early days, she worked hard to ensure that one day she would help the society solve some of those challenges.

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Watkins revealed that she began her education in nursing after finishing her high school, where she enrolled Associate’s Degree in Nursing for licensing Norfolk State University in order to attain license as a Registered Nurse (RN) (Sarah, 2017). Upon completion of her associate degree and internship, Watkins enrolled for a bachelor’s degree while working part time as a general care nurse in DePaul Medical Center for certification as a Medical/Surgical RN. In her studies, she asserts that she accumulated extensive knowledge in infection control practices and ASPAN standards, nursing regulations and standards and equipment used in post-anesthesia care unit (PACU).

 Her involvement with patients in the hospital provided her with the necessary experience, while the new knowledge learned in her bachelor’s degree improved her leadership skills. Watkins has worked with various teams under different care units. She points further than the opportunity for continued education provided at her current hospital has allowed her to enroll for her nursing graduate studies as a part-time student, which she expects to complete by 2019 (Sarah, 2017).

Professional Experience

            Talking about her professional experience that led Sarah to her current position, she reveals a dedicated RN with ambition to improve the levels of nursing outcomes in her hospital. Having grown in experience and knowledge, Watkins has climbed the professional ladder and is now the head of the intensive care unit in DePaul Medical Center (Sarah, 2017). Starting from a general nurse working in various specialty units, she rose to become a preoperative nurse. In her capacity as a preoperative nurse, Watkins revealed that her roles included assessment, planning, implementation and coordination of patient care during preoperative and postoperative phases of care.

            Sarah Watkins revealed that her hard work, dedication and great functional supervision and human relations allowed her to ascend further to work in the pre-anesthesia department. In her new role, she worked with a large pre-anesthesia team, where they provided optimum patient safety, pre-anesthetic evaluation of patients and provision of post-anesthesia care. Her excellent teamwork and interpersonal communication allowed her to become the department RN team leader. Watkins points that her relentless efforts for increased patient safety reduced patient readmissions in the unit (Sarah, 2017). This corroborates well with the assertions by (Finkelman, 2017) that effective leadership leads to positive outcomes for a healthcare organization. Watkins growing skills, knowledge and experience eventually led to her elevation to become head of the ambulatory surgery center.

Preparation for Current Position

            When Watkins was questioned on how she has prepared for her current position, she asserted that her promotion to her position as head of the ambulatory surgery center owed much to her experience working as a RN under different specialties in the hospital and mentorship from her previous seniors.

He authoritatively points “working in ambulatory surgery center is not only dependent on knowledge and skills, but owes much to individual dedication, excellent mentorship and commitment to one’s values. I believe every patient deserves the best care, with utmost safety. In order to enhance levels of outcomes, the nurse leader must show huge hunger for commitment. I owe much respect and thanks to my mentors and the entire DePaul Medical Center administration for according me with the necessary assistance into becoming who I am and to lead one of their most critical units of this hospital (Sarah, 2017).”

Current Issues in Nursing

Nursing Shortage

            The other aspect of interview with Sarah Watkins involved the discussion about the current issues affecting the United States healthcare system. Although Watkins was positive on the current developments in the United States healthcare system, particularly the adoption of information communication technology in healthcare and increased healthcare insurance coverage, she pointed that there are some issues.

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She pointed “the United States healthcare system is one of the developed in the world. We have the best equipment, nurse training and advanced medical research. However, we have one problem that needs to be addressed. The current healthcare demand for nurses is high and the number of nurses who qualify as registered nurses cannot meet the needs of all the Americans. Though the problem of nurse shortage is a global issue, there is need for strategies to overcome this challenge (Sarah, 2017).”

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            She was quick to add that though the challenge of nurse shortage must be addressed, she pointed that the best solution could be achieved by addressing the cause. She asserted that the major causes of nurse shortage include a lot of workload, low pay and aging workforce. In her response on how she mitigates the challenge, Watkins pointed that the important strategy was improving working conditions, by providing nurse practitioners with better remuneration and days off (Sarah, 2017). She also pointed that enhancing communication and motivating employees by helping them and providing guidance in the course of execution of their duties, was critical to increasing nurse retention rates.


            The interview with Watkins regarding networking revealed its importance for any student nurse. Watkins pointed that networking was crucial for a student nurse in advancing their careers and boosting their curriculum vitae.

 She pointed “the importance of networking in the nursing profession cannot be over emphasized. During my university education in Norfolk State University, we were encouraged to join student nurse associations. Having realized its benefits, when I came to DePaul Medical Center, I did not hesitate to join the DePaul student nurse association. It has really helped me as we discuss contemporary issues facing healthcare. We also get to meet renowned and career nurses and we learn through them on current nursing practices (Sarah, 2017).”

 She further encouraged anyone who is pursuing nursing that they join nursing associations within the institutions and localities.

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Changes in Healthcare

            The current healthcare system in the United States is facing many challenges. However, the healthcare organizations are adopting various strategies, policies and models to improve patient outcomes. Watkins asserted that she always learns about new developments and changes in healthcare delivery. This, according to her, is helpful in keeping her informed and allows her to be a supportive and strong leader. She pointed that she integrates any changes in her leadership roles, helping her employees to grow and stay ahead new nursing models. She also asserted that any changes can only achieve the indented goals if all employees are brought on board (Sarah, 2017). In her capacity as a nurse leader, Watkins reiterated her growing desire and struggle to ensure she involves all her team in implementation of any new interventions and changes in healthcare delivery.

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Political Aspects of Nurse Leader’s Role

            Nursing leaders have always pointed the need for nurses to take political action on behalf of their clients. According to (Shelp, Campbell & Lustig, 2012) nurses have often been the advocates for the patient and quality of care. In this regard, Watkins held that the roles of nurse leader and other nurses as patient advocate were critical components of healthcare provision. She pointed that political actions by the nurse leader and other nurses, who have vision for change and know the issues was both a professional and personal responsibility for the nurse to exercise for themselves and for their clients (Sarah, 2017). She finally encouraged all nurses to participate in strategies that are geared towards their wellbeing and those of their patients. She pointed this amid her frustration towards flinching in the championing of patient and nurse issues.

Advice for New and Aspiring Nurse Leaders

            An interview with Sarah Watkins was interesting and inspiring. Learning from such a dedicated nurse leader could be so invaluable. I asked her on what she had to say to new and aspiring nurse leaders and had very encouraging remarks. She started by pointing that nursing is a profession that can be enjoyable and yet complex (Sarah, 2017). Her advice to new and aspiring nurse leaders was that they should work hard for nurse leadership demands total focus, determination, networking and getting up to date with current issue in nursing. She further pointed that nurses and aspiring nurse leaders must always invest in continuous learning to improve their competence and better the healthcare outcomes in the country. The aspiring nurse leaders must also seek to learn from their teams and various specialty areas to determine their areas of interest where they can serve with ease and with their hearts.

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Nurse leader plays a critical role in improvement of patient safety and increasing of quality of patient outcomes. The interview with Sarah Watkins revealed that though being a nurse leader may be a dream of many, it comes with hard work, dedication for one’s responsibilities and education. Nurses must work towards increasing their levels of education in order to place them in better position for nurse leadership.

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