When 1,000-plus nurses gathered at the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) conference recently in Atlanta, they awarded 10 members the opportunity of a lifetime: a yearlong mentorship to grow their leadership skills.
The NBNA and Johnson & Johnson Minority Nurse Leadership Program is a 12-month, in-person and virtual program that invests in future generations of nurse leaders, health care influencers, entrepreneurs and innovators.
For three of the recipients, it’s a journey they will experience together in Sacramento. They are all members of the Capitol City Black Nurses Association (CCBNA), the local chapter of the NBNA. They all work at UC Davis Health. And all three care for patients in the same UC Davis Medical Center unit.
Nurse manager Calene Roseman, assistant nurse manager Aron King and clinical nurse III DaJanae Gresham-Ryder are in the unit that provides care to stable adult patients who have admission orders from the Emergency Department and are awaiting an inpatient bed assignment.
“This says a lot about our chapter, the health system in which we work and our learning institutions. Either they know how to pick nurse leaders, or they know how to build nurse leaders,” King said.
“Through our rigorous standards of patient care and best practices, UC Davis Medical Center is committed to developing nurses who embody the highest standards of professionalism,” Gresham-Ryder added. “Being selected for this program illustrates the mission and values of UC Davis Health, which is to foster an environment of inclusivity in every situation.”
Improving equitable access to care
The NBNA and Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation partnered to identify, support and develop the future generation of Black nurse leaders in academia, practice, advocacy and research. With a grant from the center, NBNA supports 10 participants who are paired with national mentors for a year-long leadership project. The program includes self-assessments, wraparound activities, identification and elimination of career barriers, mentorship, sponsorship and exploring entrepreneurial opportunities.
The center’s focus on increasing the resilience and capabilities of health systems to improve equitable access to health care aligns with the missions of UC Davis Health and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. So, it’s no coincidence that Roseman and King are Doctor of Philosophy students at the school. (Gresham-Ryder is a first-year Doctor of Nursing Practice student at Samuel Merritt University.)
“The School of Nursing has set no limits on my potential with the resources and people available to me,” Roseman explained. “For example, working with my dissertation mentor, Dr. Mark Fedyk, has driven home the importance of community and health policy. This has changed the game for me. The School of Nursing support is evidence of my trajectory to now pursue health policy.”
King, who is also a graduate of the School of Nursing’s master’s-degree leadership program, uses his skills of inspiring and mobilizing others nationally and locally. As committee chair of NBNA’s Men’s Health Committee, he brings resources to the communities he serves in Sacramento and wants to develop a presence nationally for programs he has developed. His series of “Barbershop Health Talks,” which he presented at the conference, reaches Black men in community places they frequent.
“This year, I had the opportunity to host a Barbershop Health Talk focused on organ and tissue donation. I hope to connect chapters across the country with their local organ procurement organizations for events focused on improving disparities in Black communities,” King said.
Building confidence and skills
Christine Williams, interim chief nursing and patient care services officer, says Calene, Aron and DaJanae “illustrate the importance UC Davis Health places on encouraging nurses to be curious, explore professional growth opportunities and have the courage to be part of innovative change.”
She added that “this leadership development opportunity is so important for the nursing profession and practice, it will inevitably positively affect the care of so many patients and families.”
While mentors have not been selected yet, these nurse leaders are already focused on what they hope to gain from the program.
“I hope to develop better negotiation skills, learn about grant writing and how to drive change at the individual and organization levels,” Roseman said.
Gresham-Ryder, who currently serves as vice president of CCBNA, says the program allows her to network with like-minded professionals and significantly contribute to the nursing profession.
“I plan to develop more confidence in my communication style, enabling me to speak up and be heard meaningfully while inspiring others to do the same. This skill set will help me manage conflict and difficult conversations more effectively and establish a culture of cooperation and trust at work,” Gresham-Ryder added.
NBNA is comprised of nurses at all levels, from licensed vocational nurses to nurses prepared at the doctoral level, bedside clinicians, chief nursing officers, deans of schools of nursing, researchers, academicians, policy advocates and entrepreneurs.