President's Message: A journey well traveled

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Over the summer, I had a chance to take a personal journey and reflect on the many journeys I have taken in my career. Recalling my graduate school journey, I realized that while it was undeniably difficult, it was a comforting one and I enjoyed every minute of it. Along with others in my cohort, I traveled each week for 6 years from the University of Arkansas‐Fayetteville to the University of Kansas. I loved the exposure to new people and new ideas. The graduate school journey had many signposts along the way to guide me, including admission criteria, the curriculum plan, mentorship under Dr. Janet Pierce, comprehensive exams, and of course dissertation writing and defense. My last signpost on that journey was graduation.
My next journey would be to pursue promotion and tenure in the academic realm. The path was well laid out, as a single track with little room for deviation or variation. It brought a sense of comfort as the signposts were once again clear and marked for the journey. Within the prescribed time period, I moved along the traditional path to academic tenure and promotion, with my research agenda strong and well‐funded. I celebrated the curious spirit of my well‐trained academic mind by looking for new ways of understanding and solving my research problems. I was comfortable knowing exactly where my career trajectory was headed.
But as with most things in life, there are times when you are asked to veer off your planned pathway and take an unanticipated side journey. This was my experience when I was asked to serve as the interim head of our school of nursing. It was scary to step off the comfortable track I was on and venture into a region in which I was not comfortable. That journey lasted 4 years and had many bumps and curves, but I was able to tap into new talents and skills, including fiscal and personnel management, building programs of study, and overseeing the design and completion of a new building for the school. Each bump in the road or curve in the path helped me develop flexibility and gain the ability to work with and through others to achieve a goal.
After 4 years, I was able to step back into a faculty position. This new journey didn't seem to have clear signposts or a defined route to follow. For a time, I floundered in my new role and could not see the end before I began, but I entered that traffic circle once again and realized that my research interests had evolved, and I had the opportunity to head off in a new direction. On this pathway I found new roles, mentoring other researchers and promoting the excitement of nursing science to students.
I now realize that in each path taken, I have developed transferable skills, including communication, leadership, professional ethics, multicultural competence, budgeting and resource management, goal setting, time management, research and technical skills, and mentoring. I also realized that I wanted to focus on professional service to SNRS. That path has been tremendously rewarding for me personally. As president, I have been able to associate with talented and successful individuals who are on many different career paths and in various stages of their professional careers. We come together with a single mission, however, in wanting to promote and disseminate nursing science and to help prepare the next generation of nurse scientists.
As I step down as president of SNRS in February 2018, I will enter that traffic circle again to choose a new path to pursue.
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