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Emerald Health Services

Interim Nursing Leadership: Time for a new adventure

Taking the leap into the world of interim nurse leadership can be scary, but if others have done it before, why can’t you? Lilly Brown, one of our own interim leaders, shares her story:

Do you love nursing but feel burned out in your current position? Do you want to learn more about healthcare in the United States? Are you a change agent? Do you feel the urge to travel? Do you feel the need for adventure?

If you answered YES to these questions, then Interim Nursing Leadership might be the next chapter of your life!

Please allow me to share my personal adventure with you:

Opportunity knocks

In 2012, I was at a place in my life where my children were grown, I was divorced, I had been a nurse in the same hospital for 17 years and I was feeling stagnant. Friends told me about a position as an Interim house supervisor at their local hospital in Martha’s Vineyard. I was very nervous about stepping out of my comfort zone to to seek out a position in a new healthcare system and in a different state.It took a few weeks to work through my fears about this dramagic change. Finally, I took the plunge and applied for, interviewed and accepted the position.

It took me two weeksto get through all the nuances of this drastic change. I learned so much in this first assignment.

Learning on the go

For the next 6.5 years, I continued on this adventure of Interim Nurse Leadership. The roles I have filled vary from manager to director to consultant. These roles have allowed me the opportunity to learn so much about healthcare across the United States. It has also allowed me to share my increasing expertise regarding best practices, nursing development, project management and systems learning.

This new adventure as an interim leader was one of the best decisions in my life. I am a people person. This time in my life led me to meet many people. Many of these people, I am blessed to call friends still today. They have taught me as much as I have taught them. They have been engraved forever in my life.

Embracing the beauty of travel

The traveling has allowed the ability to see places I know would never have been on my vacation list. I have been exposed to a greater world of cultural diversity. As we all know life is also about the food; traveling has allowed exposure to all types of delectable, savory diverse foods. Life for me personally is as much about the wine as the food.  Until I went to California, I was unaware of the difference between a $5.00 bottle of wine and a $50.00 bottle. My time near Napa and Sonoma has enlightened…in a wonderful way. Spending time with newly made friends over a nice meal and a bottle of wine is more fulfilling than can ever be put into words.

Real talk

I don’t want to delude anyone into thinking it’s always fun or an easy job. The reality is that you are going into a healthcare facility or system you know nothing about. You also do not know any of the players. This in itself causes great stress initially. Some of your bosses are wonderful, some have a leadership style that is very different from yours and it may be difficult to adjust.

When you are interviewed for the job, you will be provided the deliverables. They usually provide 3-5 deliverables depending on the length of your contract. Arriving at a new facility, meeting a world of new people that are already ingrained in their ways, working to assess current practices and implementing new practices can be met with much resistance. The best way to succeed in an interim role is to decide to be an owner.

Owner vs Renter

In the world of interim leadership there are owners and renters. Owners take this short-term assignment and become engrained in the culture. They make it their home during this time. The institution, the people, the patients and the outcomes carry just as much weight to them as if this was a permanent position.

A renter takes the assignment with the thought that they are only here to meet the deliverables and make the changes. They consider it as a short-term job and then they are leaving. They do not become vested in the healthcare system or the community. Many interim leaders feel that being a renter allows them to make decisions and implement processes with the thought that this is just a job and they want to do this without emotional attachments. Every interim leader has to establish their own way to emotionally and mentally do this type of work.

Choosing a staffing company

The interim leadership role is also much affected by the staffing company used. There are many leadership companies across the United States. The benefits they offer are similar but the salary, housing, insurance and the personal support can vary greatly. I have worked with six different companies during my interim tenure. When your contract ends at one place there may not be a position offered by your current company, or if there is one available, it may not be in an area or a facility where you are seeking employment. This is also a pitfall of being an interim leader. You can go months without employment. One of the ways to minimize this is to be open to flex your desires with the needs posted for interim leadership positions.

Final thoughts

The ability to have a job where you get to travel, meet new people, increase your knowledge of healthcare and have paid housing, a rental car, free flights to visit family and insurance is a pretty sweet deal.

There are many nuances to interim leadership. While I consider it a great life adventure, the world of healthcare can be crazy!  The best way to enjoy this adventure is to glean as much knowledge and skill as possible, share these learnings with the places where I work, and to take the experience one day at time. I feel blessed to have choices in my nursing career.

If you are interested in becoming an interim nurse leader let us know! Our recruiters are here and ready to help you get started on your journey. Shoot us an email at travelers@emeraldhs.com.