Leadership in Nursing with Dawn C. Joy, Accredited Practitioner and Nursing Instructor at Gannon University

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Dawn C. Joy, Accredited Practitioner and Nursing Instructor at Gannon University

Dawn C. Joy has a unique perspective on nursing in the healthcare industry. She instructs nurses as part of the faculty at Gannon University’s Villa Maria School of Nursing, while simultaneously working to complete her dissertation as a PhD candidate in Organizational Learning and Leadership. Joy has the ability to view the needs of nursing students from a professorial perspective, while remaining committed to her lifelong quest to further her own education.

Dawn C. Joy, Leadership in NursingIn addition to her roles as student and National League for Nursing (NLN) Certified Nurse Instructor, Dawn C. Joy is also the President of Coburn Consulting and Resources, an organizational consulting company that develops team facilitation strategies for businesses in all types of industries. Her work in the nursing community has resulted in unique opportunities, such as recently being asked to lead a course at Sacred Heart Nursing College in India and co-authoring an article about nursing home environments in AIA Journal.

Read our full interview to find out how Dawn C. Joy sees the nursing community and healthcare industry developing through the eyes of a teacher, a student, and an organizational healthcare leader.

eLearners: Tell us more about your background and education.

I had always had the calling to be a nurse from early childhood on. I had wanted to obtain a terminal degree [the highest academic degree in a field] that combined my interest in education and leadership and the PhD in Organizational Learning and Leadership program was very attractive because of proximity and subject matter.

eLearners: In your own words, can you explain an RN to BSN degree for someone who may not be familiar with that course of study?

The RN to BSN degree is designed for the professional nurse to combine technical knowledge acquired in their RN program of study with subjects that provide more of a worldview, which ultimately enhances the care they provide. In addition, the RN to BSN degree supports the concept of lifelong learning.

Obtaining a BS degree may open the doors for so many more opportunities and fields in nursing and healthcare, many of which have greatly autonomous roles. Some examples would be leadership positions, community health, and of course nursing education. Studies for the BS degree include more of an emphasis on research and evidenced-based practice as well, allowing the learner to clearly see what a difference they can make.

eLearners: Tell us more about your responsibilities in the professional positions you’ve held. How has earning your degrees prepared you for leadership in nursing?

Most of my responsibilities have been in the areas of administration and academia. My administrative roles spanned from strategic planning to direct administration of clinical areas. I feel my education, particularly how it relates to leadership in nursing, as well as communication and professional development, enhanced my capabilities to manage and succeed in these roles.

eLearners: What experience do you gain in the your different roles as an educator and an organizational strategy consultant?

This one is easy! The skills I use in consulting are mostly facilitation which really adds great value to my educator role. I am always learning with the students! Also, these two contribute greatly to enhancing my “listening” skills.

eLearners: What is the most exciting or rewarding thing about the work you do?

Watching someone achieve success in what they are pursuing –whether this be in helping a student learn a nursing skill or with leadership development—and seeing how coaching can create positive results.

eLearners: What challenges do you see each side facing in the healthcare community?

dawn c joy, leadership in nursingI feel that the healthcare system is an upside down pyramid: we have the personnel with the most education and knowledge farthest away from the patient – because of administrative and regulatory requirements at times.

There are many challenges and probably the most pressing are the financial pressures facing healthcare today. This is where the nurse with the advanced degree can really make a difference—by studying and learning about reimbursement systems and the effects of such overarching issues as the Affordable Care Act. Challenges that face students are related to the pace of change in healthcare, as well as all the technology related to electronic records and actual patient care and how to keep the patients’ needs first and foremost in this environment. Again communication is the key and obtaining the RN to BSN degree will provide the tools necessary to practice effective and efficient communication practices that complement the RN’s existing clinical expertise.

eLearners: Do you think that it is an ideal time to pursue a nursing degree?

I think that experts in the field of nursing are finally on the verge of agreeing that entry into nursing practice should be through a BSN program, and because of this, nursing will be further developed as a profession and be viewed equally with collaborative team members such as physicians, therapists, pharmacists etc.

In addition, the demographic and technologic changes, as well as the outcomes of the Affordable Care Act, are creating more demand for services. The result is that more people than in previous times will be accessing healthcare, which will also create greater need for caregivers.

eLearners: How does an RN to BSN degree program differ from a traditional RN education? 

My understanding and experience is that RN to BSN programs include some of the liberal arts and leadership/human development courses that traditional RN programs do not usually include, although some may vary. Also I believe that traditional RN programs do not include a community health course, which is so important as the provision of our healthcare services moves away from traditional acute care.

eLearners: How does taking the online program for RN to BSN differ from a campus-based program? 

Online programs require a level of discipline to attend to coursework, but in exchange, offer the flexibility to achieve this. In addition, the course management technology that is employed lends itself to the exchange of ideas and professional discussion that is usually more readily available in a face-to-face environment. Both types of programs will yield whatever efforts the student puts into them.

eLearners: Which skills do you think are necessary for pursuing a degree in nursing?

Time management, critical thinking, communication skills and a real enthusiasm for learning! Being self-driven and intellectually curious are great assets as well. There are many skills that the RN already has, being in clinical practice, that transfer well to the learning environment such as teamwork and “listening.”

eLearners: What advice do you have for students who are considering pursuing an RN to BSN degree?

Connecting with their passion for lifelong learning is what will fuel their success! This may sound a bit like “Pollyanna” or rather unrealistic, but the truth is what we really want in our hearts and souls is what we will succeed in despite any challenges.

Also developing a mentor relationship either with faculty or someone else that has successfully achieved similar academic success can be very helpful, and most programs would have this available.


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