BSN students hone leadership skills in new course

BSN curriculum includes personal leadership course to help students learn how to effectively work together, features service-learning project
IMG 4613 webHealth care professionals must work together to improve patient care and outcomes. To ensure bachelors of science in nursing students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) learn effective teamwork and leadership skills throughout their course of study a new leadership course is now included in the students’ second semester.

“From the beginning of nursing school, students are expected to use teamwork, delegation and many other basic leadership skills to succeed in their courses,” said Sharon Hamilton, MSN, RN, instructor for the course. “To ensure they master these skills, the BSN faculty felt that stressing teamwork and leadership earlier in the curriculum would not only aid in a successful transition into the health care workforce, but prove to be useful in many facets of their lives.”

Hamilton said for a number of years students have been required to take a leadership and management course during their last semester. This new course, “NUR 336: Leadership,” was first taught in spring 2014.

Unlike the management course, Leadership focuses on supplying students with a personal leadership toolkit. A non-nursing textbook was selected with the belief that leadership skills are universal and will assist students in all facets of their life, not just their nursing career.

The Leadership course focuses on three major concepts: understanding self, understanding others and learning how to work effectively together. During the semester, the students participate in a number of self-assessments and team-building activities. In sprinalabama wildlifeg 2015 the faculty added a service-learning project allowing the students to experience the teamwork and leadership concepts they learned throughout the semester.

Groups selected a community partner and planned a project to serve the needs of that organization. Projects varied, but all sought to provide organizations with valuable resources and donations. Some projects include: selling awareness buttons for Alabama Wildlife, collecting personal care items for First Light Women’s Shelter, selling t-shirts for Project Hearts, gathering books for Better Basics, and donating canned food to the Food Bank of Central America.

At the end of the semester students presented their outcomes and leadership processes to faculty and staff. A formal poster presentation allowed students to share the substantial accomplishments they achieved for their partners as well as provide them with valuable professional presentation experience, a skill that students will use throughout their careers.

Students raved about the useful skills they took away from this course. "It takes a whole team to ensure positive outcomes for our patients," said second-semester BSN student Amanda Scott, a member of the group that worked with Alabama Wildlife. "This project made me realize the fundamental importance of communication and team work in any workplace."
Last modified on October 20, 2015

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