ACNL Involvement Supports Leadership and Career Development



By Beth Eichenberger, MPA/HSA, RN
Leadership Development Task Force

There is no question in my mind that ACNL provides its members with numerous opportunities for leadership development through the local chapters, regional forums, annual conference, educational programs and myriad opportunities to network with present and future California nurse leaders. I know this first hand. My journey with ACNL began ten years ago. As I look back upon my experiences, I realize how instrumental this organization has been in preparing and supporting me in my leadership role as director in a northern California hospital. So, if I were asked: how has ACNL helped me? I would respond, “Let me count the ways!”

To begin, let me describe my first decade of involvement with ACNL:

I joined the East Bay Chapter of ACNL (EBACNL) in 2000 while I was managing a maternal child health department in a local hospital. EBACNL provided me the opportunity to interact regularly with other very talented nurse leaders in my area. The world of ACNL further expanded for me in 2002 when my CNO had the foresight to send me to ACNL’s Annual Conference.

Given my tenure at EBACNL, I thought I was prepared for what I was about to experience. The conference was, in fact, transformational! I spent those four days immersed with a phenomenal group of nurse leaders - listening, observing, conversing and mostly just soaking up their wisdom. I came away from the experience knowing that I not only wanted to be a part of this organization, but I wanted to offer my knowledge and expertise to emerging nurse leaders. Between 2003 and 2006, I served as treasurer, vice president and president of the East Bay Chapter.

While serving my local chapter, I also became active in ACNL on the statewide level. I participated on the Membership Committee, as a member, co-chair and as the chair for two years. Next, I joined the Annual Program Committee, an experience like none other. Being a part of the committee that created the program for the Annual Conference, engaged nationally recognized speakers and ultimately attracted new members was a thrilling challenge. Over the past five years, I have also been active on the Strategic Planning Committee. In 2008, I was elected to the Board of Directors for a two-year term, and served as Board Liaison for the Education Committee. Currently, I am a member of the newly formed Leadership Development Task Force.

The many ways ACNL has benefited me in my career include:

Through ACNL I have the opportunity to work with “the best and the brightest” in our field.
Not only have I gained from the insights of these leaders, but members old and new have been actively interested in my perspective. Their encouragement to develop my leadership skills has been a confidence builder that translates positively to my interactions with the executive management team in my organization.

Through ACNL I have become more aware of how global issues in healthcare impact day-to-day operations in a hospital setting.
My involvement in ACNL has not only been rewarding, it has also been enlightening as decisions are made that reflect the role ACNL plays in the global healthcare environment. Through my tenure on the Strategic Planning Committee, I was involved with the development of the Vision statement, as well as the Mission and Values statements that guide the organization into the future. In defining the strategic initiatives that ACNL is committed to pursue, it was essential to examine our core competencies in detail and assess the issues facing the healthcare industry - now and in the future.

Through ACNL I have honed leadership and management skills that I use daily.
The skills and competencies required in my career are not unlike those that are needed to lead in an organization such as ACNL. I have had the opportunity to actualize these skills, such as motivating teams, driving performance, goal setting, financial planning, personal and professional accountability and strategic management in both settings. Applying this skill set in these environments has, in my opinion, created a synergy that has benefited both ACNL and my employers.

Through ACNL I have become more cognizant of the tremendous impact that each of us can have on individuals as they develop into future leaders in our healthcare systems.
Through a variety of ACNL activities, I have been empowered to guide others through their journey to become great leaders. There is nothing more satisfying than participating in the development of emerging leaders - helping them to achieve their goals in order to advance their careers and become active participants in ACNL. This holds true in the hospital setting, as well.

My role as director is to lead my managers and staff to achieve their optimal performance and to provide the highest quality patient care in a safe and caring environment. I do this by modeling the behaviors and teaching the skills of leadership. Training, mentoring, providing growth opportunities and instilling the motivation to pursue these possibilities has proven to be a successful formula for guiding my staff to become leaders.

Through ACNL I have resources available to draw upon.
My goal is to provide opportunities for my staff, through didactic learning and real time experiences to help them develop the skills and confidence to become leaders in their own departments and participate in creating and implementing the vision for transformative change. The resources available through ACNL in the form of: regional meetings, webinars, continuing educational classes, conferences and professional contacts are valuable assets that enhance the training tools available within my hospital organization.

Participation in ACNL has not only provided me the opportunity to fulfill my desire to develop nurse leaders but it has also helped me in my role as a nurse leader. As I begin my second decade as a member of ACNL, my enthusiasm for this organization has not waned and my intent is to continue be an active participant for years to come.