A profession of leaders

May 2013   Comments

As CNA staff planned this year’s National Nursing Week, they suggested I devote this column to my own leadership journey.

Barb Mildon

The route that led me to the presidency of CNA wasn’t planned. Like many of you, in the days before the baccalaureate became the standard, I completed a two-year diploma in nursing. I returned to school 10 years later to obtain my degree. It was only during this second round of schooling that I learned about our provincial, national and international nursing associations. I was so inspired by their history and their achievements. And I was introduced to leadership gurus, such as Senge, Drucker, and Kouzes and Posner, who profoundly influenced me — I became determined to walk their talk!

My chance to contribute to nursing associations came unexpectedly, when I was asked to serve as newsletter editor for RNAO’s Community Health Nurses Initiatives’ Group (CHNIG). That led to amazing opportunities to chair CHNIG, lead the Community Health Nurses of Canada and serve as a board member for RNAO. These experiences were meaningful and fulfilling and deepened my commitment to my profession.

Sometimes I am asked for advice about leadership. I explain that it is not necessary to have a designated title to be a leader. Leadership is in every nurse — after all, you lead your practice! I add that leaders are willing to work outside their comfort zone and that they stay engaged, work hard, cultivate resilience, keep commitments and see mentorship as a privilege. Nursing is a profession of leaders. That’s why we make a difference, for those we care for and at the health system and policy levels. And it’s why we are a mighty force for change.

I wish you all a meaningful and happy National Nursing Week!


Barb Mildon, RN, PhD, CHE, CCHN(C)

PS: New legislation for not-for-profit organizations means CNA has to make changes to its governance model. We want to keep you informed about that work. Please read the information feature.

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