From the Bedside to the Boardroom

My journey from floor nurse to the founder & CEO of the International Network of Nurse Leaders

I wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember. My 4-year-old birthday cake was a “nurse” cake and my sister and I spent countless hours playing labour and delivery nurse I left my small town at 18 years old to pursue my Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Calgary and have now spent almost 13 years in the most fulfilling, crazy, and diverse career I could have imagined for myself.

One of the great things about the nursing profession are the unlimited career paths you can take and still be a nurse. I started out, as most do, as a general medical-surgical nurse, working in small town hospitals; which really meant I was a med-surg, geriatrics, L&D and emergency nurse … all with less than 2 years experience under my belt.

About 2 years into my career I found my nirvana—a small town hospital where I could specialize as a Labour & Delivery nurse. From there, my skills grew leaps and bounds and I decided to take on the next challenge of being an L&D travel nurse. I packed my bags and headed for my first assignment in Sitka, Alaska! Following a few short assignments in Alberta and BC, I headed for Exeter, New Hampshire.

It was in Exeter, NH where I was introduced to the concept of nurse-midwives.  I was immediately enticed as I had always thought it was kind of sad that, after all the work and time you spent with the labouring mom, you either were off shift when the baby was finally born OR the doctor showed up for the “glory catch” and you were left with the clean-up. (I am being facetious here; I know physicians do more than just show up to catch the babies so don’t get too riled up). It seemed like, after all my childhood years, playing delivery nurse (and actually delivery the baby), that this was the next logical step in my nursing career. And so I headed down the path of nurse-midwifery and began my Masters of Science in Nursing as the next step in my career.

As it turns out, while I am grateful for the time I spent as a nurse-midwife, it wasn’t the path I was destined to take for very long. Following a short stint as a midwife in Alberta, I dove back into my nursing and rural roots and began work with rural Primary Care Networks focusing on prenatal and women’s health.

Working within Primary Care Networks allowed me to expand my nursing scope once again, as I moved from managing a prenatal clinic and team to another PCN where I am now managing a team of 15 healthcare professionals, focusing on chronic disease.

It was here that I realized my 2 passions. Leadership and Nursing. Throughout my life I have been involved in leadership opportunities through 4-H and various committees and associations but it had never crossed my mind that I could do “leadership” as a job.

I am proud to be a nurse. It is a part of who I am, and my fellow nurses are family. Nurses are bonded together in a way that most professions will never understand; we truly are a family.

As I took on a leadership role and dove into my own learning and growth, I realized how little support nurses in general are given in regards to leadership development. We, as nurses, make up the largest percentage of healthcare workers, yet our voices are not equally represented or heard at the proverbial table. Front-line nurses are rarely involved or asked for their opinion in regards to policy, budget or mandates that will directly affect their work and patient care.

Nurses have the potential to be incredible powerful leaders. Every nurse has the opportunity to be a leader, every day. And I believe that nurses, when working together for a greater purpose, have the power to change the world. From the bedside to the boardroom, we need nurses to find their voices and speak up for the changes that we know are so desperately needed in healthcare today.

I believe that is how we solve our healthcare crisis. Involve the nurses … at every level. I started the International Network of Nurse Leaders in an effort to help nurses increase their confidence, develop their leadership skills and come together in a united purpose to fight for our profession, our patients, and ourselves.

And so begins my next path in my nursing journey, nurse leadership. I look forward to connecting with nurses on a global scale and championing them as they find the courage to make changes in their own practice, their units, their organizations, and eventually, the world.

~ Amy Deagle

Founder & CEO International Network of Nurse Leaders

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