During the week of October 18th to 22nd, 2021, Nurse Rebecca Johnson, president of the Nurses Association of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas (NACB) and Senior Nursing Officer for Pediatrics at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) led a team of facilitators to Eleuthera to host the first intensive one-week session of an international nurses leadership program.
In an interview at the Worker’s House complex, where the program was being hosted, Nurse Johnson explained what the program was all about and why it had been brought to the island at this time, saying, “We really wanted to do something special for the nurses in Eleuthera, because it is hard for them to come into Nassau to do a program. So, the Nurses Association decided to bring a leadership program here for them. We have six nurses participating in the program this week.”
The program, she said, was called ‘Leadership for Change’. “One of the things that we are excited about is a component of the program where the nurses will have to do a special project, which either improves their work environment or improves the community in which they serve. We are hoping that all the nurses taking part here in Eleuthera will be able to effect a project that will benefit the island and improve healthcare in Eleuthera. So, we are very excited about that.”
“This is a program from the International Council of Nurses, and we got special permission to do the program. Four of the participating nurses are from Eleuthera, and two of the nurses are from New Providence. The nurses from Eleuthera include Bianca Edwards, Cornell Johnson, Deshan Mortimer, and Behanker Rolle, joined by Sindy Bullard, and Charmaine Gibson from New Providence. They are dynamic young leaders,” said Nurse Johnson. “Once you create a leader, you can leave that community, because they are going to take the initiative. You give them the tools and they will go.”
Describing the ‘Leadership for Change’ agenda, she explained, “The program is set to take place during the course of one year, with three intensive one-week workshops, and this is workshop one, where the nurses are introduced to all the leadership and management principles, leading change principles – like quality improvement and mentoring. We will set the ground rules for the project, then they will choose what they will focus on and actively work on the initiative, until we return early next year for the second workshop. By that time they should have their projects well in focus and underway, and will be presenting and fine-tuning. At the final workshop later in 2022, they will make final presentations about their initiatives. Another unique component of this program, is that we are also training a trainer. So, after this program is completed next year, I should have four trainers here in Eleuthera, who can take up the mantle – so it’s a sustainable program.”
Facilitating the week-long workshop along with Nurse Rebecca Johnson were Mrs. Prescola Rolle ‘Leader for Change’ (LFC) Country Coordinator, and Mrs. Maggie Turner LFC Lead Trainer. The sessions were also supported virtually by facilitators who contributed via ZOOM platform. “We will soon be going on into retirement,” said Nurse Johnson, “so we need to pass it on to the younger generation. When I retire and have to go to the clinic or to hospital, I will be comfortable knowing we have left it in good hands. That is very important.”
Nurse Cornell Johnson, a participant in the leadership program, and also Chairperson of the NACB Eleuthera Branch, commenting on her experience, shared, “The LFC program workshop 1 was a life changing experience and brought new insight into Nursing Leadership roles and management. The facilitators were very knowledgeable, and passionate about the program and the potential each participant displayed in becoming great Nurse leaders for change.”
Charmaine Gibson, MScN, RN in NICU in PMH stressed that the program definitely meets the needs and strengthens the nursing profession in leadership, saying it built on her knowledge base and connected the theory and nursing practice.
Deshan Mortimer, Assistant Secretary with the NACB Eleuthera Branch, BScN, RN expressed the need for the course to be taught to all nurses in the Bahamas because she thought the content taught and prepared a person to become a very effective leader in every aspect of their life.
The Eleuthera nurses taking part all expressed that they were excited and looking forward to becoming facilitators of ‘LFC’ ensuring the future sustainability of the program. The second ‘LFC’ workshop is scheduled for the week of February 14th, 2022.