Northwest Organization of Nurse Leaders News

November 2021 Leader Highlight

For November, NWONL is highlighting our Member Leader Nancy Wiederhold, MN, RN, CSRN, Nursing Manager, Complex Care & Med-Surge Unit, University of Washington Medical Center. From Council Leadership of the premier Seattle Council, to attending virtually all events, being selected as the NWONL 2021 Scholarship award recipient for her DNP work at Boise State University, and contributing anytime she is asked. To state briefly, Nancy is a powerhouse Member Leader. We are fortunate to have Nancy both as a longtime Member but as a trusted advisor and partner on our shared Leadership journey.
Cindi: Nancy, tell us  about your career, how you started in nursing, leadership and where you are today?
Nancy: “I have had the immense fortune of starting and growing my nursing career at UWMC in Seattle. I started here during nursing school and had opportunities to work with incredible leaders throughout the years who have become my mentors. I had always wanted to be a nurse and care for others. It felt very natural to step into being a charge RN and then move up to assistant and now a nurse manager role. Taking care of the team and facilitating exceptional patient care is very rewarding. It’s crazy to say I’ve been a nurse for more than 20 years now as I still feel like there is always something to learn and be excited about, especially now in my DNP program at Boise State University.”
Cindi: Well you certainly are in a high performing organization. The expectations are very high at UWMC. You obviously see the value of lifelong learning as well. Given your tenure, what have been some of the salient challenges in your career to date? Personal, professional, other?
Nancy: “One of the important challenges in my career was when I applied for a new grad position, I decided to move to a newly opened unit and really stretch my learning. As it was a new unit, I quickly found myself able to step into a charge RN role by the end of my first year and participate in many committees. Another great challenge was taking on a leadership role in a practice committee. Both roles provided me with growth and skills that I continue to use today. I have learned that I enjoy the challenges and opportunities to grow and work with the entire health care team. It has made me aware of the impact you can have on a nurse by giving them a voice and valuing all staff no matter what level or role they have.”
Cindi: I take from that “try, learn, grow”. You definitely have embraced challenges for learning and growth. Given your breadth of experiences, what is your take on the current state of nursing and nursing leadership?
Nancy: “Nursing leadership is an incredibly challenging role. I feel the pull to serve the staff and patients while also being bound by the business side of healthcare. The current state of nursing is challenging, but also a bit exciting to be able to rise to the needs and help other navigate the way. As a nursing leader we must not only meet our staff where they are but also help show them where they can go. I think many nurses feel lost right now and with the world turned upside down leaders can help create an environment that is supportive, engaging, and allows them to do what they were called to do when they entered the profession. As nurses we make a difference by building relationships with our patients and as a Nurse Leader, I believe we make a difference by building relationships with our staff and colleagues.”
Cindi: You notes “show them where they can go”… That is truly a hallmark of Leadership, both showing and supporting your teams to reach their potential. You also are aware of the inherent challenges involved. Given that, in in the complex world of healthcare, from a nursing and nursing leadership perspective, what should we be discussing/acting on that (may) not be getting the attention/traction it warrants?
Nancy: “As an inpatient nurse manager for acute care, I see the changing needs of the workforce and how our historical staffing models are not keeping up with the challenge. I also see nurse managers that are exhausted trying to do 24/7 work and sacrificing their own well-being trying to meet the demands of the job.”
Cindi: Rethinking delivery of care via innovations in staffing. That is both a significant challenge but also one with a profound impact. What are the opportunities on the horizon that we should be positioning for now to advance in that direction?
Nancy: “Future opportunities include partnering with academia to strengthen our transition to practice and supporting staff as clinical educators. Another area to consider is scope of nurse manager role and how that impacts succession planning.”
Cindi: You have identified salient inputs. There is much opportunity in both. I’m anticipating your DNP work may have some influence in progressing in these areas. I find that very exciting! Before we are done, I’d like to close with two questions. First, if you could do it again, what might you do differently and/or what advice would you give to nurses or nursing leaders starting their journey?
Nancy: “My advice is the same advice I have been given – Never say no to an opportunity. I may not have always felt ready or prepared, but I never regretted getting involved and learning something new.”
Cindi: Strong advice. Hard to hear for some perhaps but sound. Second, question before we end. Is there a person/persons that were overtly influential in your career? Someone that was a cornerstone, mentor or guide that directly facilitated your advancement (positively) that you would like to recognize?
Nancy: “I am so fortunate to say there are several that fit this classification. Not only senior leaders that looked to support and encourage my professional development, but also peers throughout the organization. Most notably is Dr. Lorie Wilde. I had the great pleasure of experiencing her kind and caring leadership when she was the CNO at UWMC. She has a great calmness, that as a leader made it incredibly easy to trust her vision. She also has a way of encouraging you to think bigger and continues to help me see future steps in my career. Her commitment and passion to nursing and nursing leadership is contagious.”
Cindi: Well then, cheers to Dr. Wilde and to you as well. I personally appreciate your insight. On behalf of the NWONL Board and our Members, thank you for contributing (yet again)!