Elsevier and Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy — developing nurse leaders

Partnership provides mentoring for nurse educators to become leaders in the profession

Developing leaders is a difficult enterprise, at best. It takes people who have experienced and practiced leadership, who have honed their own skills enough to recognize leaders and then teach what leadership is all about. And, of course, it takes willing individuals focused on becoming leaders in their profession.

I was in Indianapolis last month, coincidentally during the National Football League’s 2013 Scouting Combine (more on this later), with a set of the nation’s brightest nurse educators, who were celebrating the halfway point in their journey to become better nurse faculty leaders. These Scholars, who hail from around the country and around the world, gathered for the second of two workshops designed to help them develop into nurse leaders.

The program is funded by the Elsevier Foundation as an ongoing partnership. This 2012-13 cohort is the second for which Elsevier has provided a $300,000 grant to fund the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy (NFLA) of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), the international honor society for nursing. STTI and Elsevier designed the academy to address a consequence of the international crisis in nursing – that the global need for more nurses has created a dire need for more and better nurse faculty.

How NFLA works

The NFLA is a 20-month mentored leadership “experience.” Each Scholar (a junior nurse faculty member at a nationally recognized nursing program) selects an expert Leadership Mentor who participates in the Academy workshops and guides the Scholar through the NFLA’s leadership development journey. The Scholars began the academy in Feb. 2012.

Barbara Friesth, PhD, RN, explains the simulation lab to the NFLA Scholars (Photos by Christopher Capot)

The Scholar and Mentor are paired with an expert faculty member, who provides consultation and guidance. This triad — Scholar, Leadership Mentor and Expert Faculty Member — forms the basic functional unit of the Academy that works collaboratively to achieve the Scholar’s leadership development goals. The Academy curriculum includes a variety of educational strategies for developing leadership knowledge, competence and outcomes.

Tony Forrester, PhD, RN, ANEF

“We need to groom more nurse educators into nurse leaders in order to educate the flood of nurses wanting to join the profession,” said Tony Forrester, PhD, RN, ANEF, Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Administration at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s School of Nursing, and the leader of the expert faculty in the Academy. “These nurse faculty scholars are some of the most motivated we’ve seen, and we are proud to be able to help them on their journey to become nurse faculty leaders.”

In addition to the workshop sessions on personal branding and identity development, relationship building, project leadership and the positive use of power, the group in Indianapolis also took a field trip, and I joined them. After bundling up for a sloppy wintry mix of snow and sleet, we boarded two small buses for a cross-town visit to the Indiana University School of Nursing.

Barbara Friesth, PhD, NR

Barbara Friesth, PhD, RN, a professor and one of the NFLA’s expert faculty advisors and also the Assistant Dean of Learning Resources at Indiana University, had arranged for tours of the nursing school’s Resource Center for Innovation in Clinical Nursing Education.

“Lab and simulation space is at a real premium for every nursing school around the country,” Dr. Friesth said. “With some very generous donations and the support of the leadership at the School of Nursing, we’ve been able to develop a top notch facility for nursing students and faculty.”

Ainslie Nibert, PhD, RN, FAAN

Elsevier’s own Ainslie Nibert, PhD, RN, FAAN, and VP for Review and Testing/HESI, is also an NFLA faculty advisor to the academy.

A Working Partnership

For the Elsevier Foundation, the NFLA is a most gratifying partnership. Elsevier has made a successful business from developing products that educate tomorrow’s health-care professionals and help them do their jobs better. Through the foundation's partnership with STTI and the NFLA, we also help health-care professionals become better leaders.

And, unlike some typical corporate partnerships, the Elsevier Foundation isn’t merely providing a big check. Elsevier considers this an investment in providing an opportunity for nurses to grow into leaders and then pay it forward to other nurses in the future.

That the NFLA mid-academy workshop took place during the NFL Combine provided a unique and contrasting backdrop to the NFLA.

The Combine, which takes place annually in Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, is professional football’s annual performance test, the “Path to Primetime,” where college football players are put through their paces mentally and physically so that NFL coaches can earmark the best upcoming talent to recruit for their rosters. It’s a well-oiled machine – and over the several years, a real media spectacle.

Coaches use many standardized measurements (running speed, jumping height and other physical tests) to compare players’ performance. This statistics-driven sports showcase is how NFL coaches select the leading players in the league, if not actually many of football’s future leadership. It precedes the NFL Draft, where players are actually selected by teams. With all that effort, few college players actually become NFL players, and even fewer become head coaches (with only 34 teams, opportunities are limited).

In the nursing profession, as in many other health-care professions, it’s a very different process. Nursing students are educated in nursing programs and go into practice. Some pursue advanced degrees, like PhDs, and some specialize. However, there are very few educational programs that help nurses advance to leadership positions as faculty in nursing education programs.

Unlike the NFL, nursing programs abound across the country, and there is a wealth of opportunity out there for nurses who want to take leadership positions in this industry — if only they had the appropriate leadership development opportunities.

Deborah Cleeter, MSN, EdD

“We have a great need for nurse leaders in this country, and the NFLA is one of the few shining examples of how leadership can be developed in a very intentional way,” said Deborah Cleeter, MSN, EdD, who serves as the international leadership consultant for the NFLA and helps direct the Academy. “We are continuously fine-tuning methods for these outstanding faculty advisors to impart what they have come to know about leadership throughout their own careers, and we’re passing that along to the Academy Scholars.”

The NFLA’s robust leadership development program provides thatexperiential mentored leadership development opportunity for nurses committed to a career in nursing education. By enhancing the personal leadership development of the next generation of nursing faculty, the NFLA promotes faculty retention and cultivates high performing, supportive work environments in academe.

At Elsevier, we’re proud to support the NFLA. I was especially impressed by the dedication of the nurse Faculty, Mentors and Scholars in the Academy. Developing nurse faculty leaders will help create more high-quality nurses and improve the nursing profession, one that will be increasingly relied upon as the health-care industry around the world continues to evolve.

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About the Academy

The Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy (NFLA) is a 20-month mentored leadership “experience.” Each Scholar (a junior nurse faculty member at a nationally recognized nursing program) selects an expert Leadership Mentor, who participates in the Academy workshops and guides the Scholar through the NFLA’s leadership development journey. For more information on the academy, or to apply for the program, visit the NFLA website. [/note]

Christopher Capot

The Author ...

As Director of Corporate Relations, Christopher Capot (@Chris_Capot) heads up public relations for Elsevier’s Health Sciences division. He has been a public relations and media relations professional at agencies and corporations for more than 10 years. Prior to that, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist, last working as a business reporter at the New Haven Register in Connecticut. He works in Elsevier’s New York office.

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3 Archived Comments

Carol Winters April 6, 2013 at 5:40 pm

What an excellent description of the NFLA. Chris added a sparkle to our February Faculty Advisor meetings and NFLA Workshop with his thoughtful queries, photo snapping and unflagging wit! Thanks to Elsevier for partnering with Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing to make this academy to develop nurse faculty leaders a reality!

Chris Capot March 29, 2013 at 7:11 pm


Thank you so much for those comments, and thank you for your contributions as a faculty mentor, an essential part of that triad. We at Elsevier and at the Elsevier Foundation are enormously proud of the work this program does, and it's our honor to be partnered with you and the rest of the NFLA team.

Gwen Sherwood March 29, 2013 at 11:33 am

The NFLA is truly a premier experience for expanding leadership capacity for each participant as they design and implement a project in their home setting. And, at the same time, we as faculty mentors also feel we too have development opportunities by working alongside the mentee and the expert faculty. The triad effect is dynamic, synergistic, and rewarding; the project is important and has the potential to change business practices, but it is the leadership journey in implementing the project where the leadership transformation takes place, in the reflective space between the work of the project and examining what happened, in the conversations with the faculty mentor and expert faculty. What a privilege for the Honor Society to partner with a forward thinking organization like Elsevier! Thank you to Deb and Chris, and the entire NFLA team!