My practicum has yielded extensive experience in the areas of management, budgeting, the delivery of social services, and the operations and use of databases for admissions. These are important areas of experience in nursing leadership and in efforts to promote the quality of care at the community and population levels. This is because of the role of a nurse leader in management and leadership in care settings to ensure the quality and effectiveness of accessed and experienced care services in addressing individual patients’ needs. From the practicum, I have learnt that nurse leaders have important roles in contributing to decision-making, management, and policymaking to promote the quality and effectiveness of care in meeting the needs of individual patients. They perform this role through collaborations with diverse stakeholders in the healthcare environment and the broader society.
One situation that presented a significant learning experience in my practicum was my involvement in care for patients with chronic diseases. This experience demonstrated the enormous and critical responsibility of nurses and nurse leaders not only in caring for patients but also in patient education, staff education, leadership in the healthcare environment, patient advocacy, management of care, and contribution to policymaking. In particular, I witnessed the critical role of nursing professionals as change agents to promote the transformation of healthcare delivery models to fit emerging needs. This role concerns nurses’ service in the frontline of care, which enables them to experience and evaluate the effectiveness of models of care directly. Based on this experience and knowledge, nurses serve as invaluable contributors to effective policymaking and as agents of change to transform care towards a model that meets emerging needs most effectively. The aspect that stood out the most in this experience concerns the responsibility of nurses as advocates for patients and healthcare. The experience has promoted my appreciation of the responsibility of nurses as advocates for patients and their interests, especially in terms of the improvement of care and allocation of resources to fulfill emerging needs.
Another important learning experience from the practicum concerned the value of cultural competence in effective care. In one instance, I encountered a highly challenging scenario in which my interactions and communications with a patient were ineffective because of differences in our cultural backgrounds. The cultural difference influenced a breakdown in communications between the patient and myself, thereby undermining my professional nursing role. I dealt with the situation by seeking the help of a senior colleague to take my place and serve the patient. The experience taught me the value of cultural competence in effective delivery of care to patients. I realized that I needed to recognize my own prejudices and biases against other cultures and their members and develop skills to resist the influence of these perceptions on my communications and interactions with others. I would have approached the situation differently by preparing effectively for the meeting with the patient from another cultural background through studying and recognizing the differences in values, language, norms, and beliefs between our cultures.
The situation changed my assumptions and beliefs about care. Previously, I considered nursing skills and training as the only necessary qualifications for success in the profession. Nonetheless, the experience taught me that more knowledge, skills, and experience, such as cultural competence and interpersonal skills, were necessary for quality and effective performance and success in nursing. This experience has prepared me for a future role as a BSN-prepared nurse through influencing my recognition that cultural competence is an important area of skill for efficient performance and success in nursing. I shall focus on this area to ensure my capacity to understand and interact and communicate effectively with patients from diverse language and cultural backgrounds as a BSN-prepared nurse.