Virginia Avenel Henderson, is a legendary nurse who rose to popularity after receiving the award title “the best nurse of the 20th century”. The contributions she made to the industry had a positive impact at a national and international level. She became a great inspiration to nurses throughout the globe upon receiving the prestigious Christianne Reimann prize from the nursing council. She held 12 doctoral degrees and applied her nursing knowledge by influencing practice and research across the globe.
Analyzing Henderson’s leadership characteristics, it is clear she was a gracious individual with great wisdom and a full sense of humor. As a leader, she strongly advocated for teamwork by teaching health professionals how they can work on a peaceful manner in order to attain a common goal. She believed working in a team that was harmonious could benefit not only the patients but families the nurses assisted. As a nurse leader, she was effective as she encouraged her colleagues to function and unite in an effective manner for purposes of pursuing shared objectives. Henderson also exhibited a democratic style of leadership and often guided rather than controls individuals she worked with. The other trait of leadership possessed by Henderson is that she was a manager who gave directions that attracted followers. Additionally, she was a great nurse who accepted others opinion and identified with personal life of others as well as making contributions to society (Henderson, 2012).
A leader with the capability of portraying excellence, according to Henderson is a complete individual with the ability of completing the task assigned to him/her. She views nurses as individuals with the responsibility of helping patients who are not capable physically or without knowledge of taking care of their own needs. She is the type of leader who expects members of her team to avoid demands that can keep them from carrying out their duties appropriately. Based on her style of leadership, good nurses should not divert from their line of work to focus on activities like cleaning, clerking and filing which are non-medical.
I believe her traits of leadership are important characteristics of directing others. First, for any leader to interact effectively with her staff, she must be gracious and have a sense of humor as was the case with Henderson. This creates a positive impact by creating mutual relationship that leads to proper functioning at work and better understanding. It is also important for a leader to be in support of teamwork since it helps unite employees and urges them to work hard in order to achieve goals. By leading in a manner that is diplomatic, a working spirit is promoted and this makes employees feel at ease in their line of duty. What is more, it also stimulates sharing ideas among parties involved without running the risk of discrimination against the inferiors and superiors. It is crucial for a leader to serve as a role model to others since this attracts many followers who imitate their behavior leading to the organization’s success.
Some of the specific contributions Henderson made in the nursing profession include the following. As a nurse theorist, Henderson majorly took part in nursing practices that earned her titled like “First Lady of Nursing”. She took part in conducted research, writing and worked with different kinds of nurses which gave her the impression of the best nurse across the globe. She mobilized other nurses so they could help individuals in society whether sick, or in recovery or in maintaining good health especially those who lacked knowledge and strength in the area (Smith, 2009). Henderson, in her nursing career was an educator in institutions like Columbia University Teacher’s College and Yale School of Nursing where she was able to impart knowledge to a large number of students who were pursuing a career in nursing. Additionally, she contributed to nursing when she wrote the 3 editions of “Principles and Practices of Nursing” that became used widely for purposes of spreading nursing knowledge. Henderson also contributed to creation of the first nursing library in Indianapolis benefiting professional since they could access it through electronic means.
The traits of advocacy employed by Henderson to meet the needs of individuals within society are evidenced when she initiates basic curriculum in order to solve the issues of nurses. Additionally, she paid frequent visit to nursing schools by influencing and encouraging individual in the profession of nursing. Additionally, Henderson was a passionate advocate who spread health resources and details in society. Her focus was directed towards taking care of individuals which was evidence in the manner she motivated other nurses to help patients recover, maintain health status of those who were well and taking care of the sick unable to survive peaceful death. She also articulated the significance of promoting self-reliance among patients in order to enhance their process of healing after staying at the hospital. This is achieved by allowing individuals to take part in activities that contribute to their recovery and grant them good health. Further, she also advocated for nurses to devote their time to patients during the night and day and the importance of getting university level education. As such, this met the family’s healthcare needs and those of individuals in society when they receive services from nurses who are educated and in a manner that is satisfactory.
In the course of her nursing profession, Henderson came across obstacles that influenced her decisions to handle situations that led to change. The first barrier hindering change is when members of her team failed to take part in teamwork. This affected their situation as it distracted unity of other workers in nursing organizations (Henderson, 2011). In another instance, a section of nurses failed to give their work first priority as a result of personal demands. This caused a negative impact to decision making and addressing a state where nurses adopted the habit of arriving to work late and not paying much attention to patients. In such a state, the patients suffer since they do not receive assistance due to absence of nurses who show up late.
At a certain point, her hearing and memory ability changed leading to a negative effects since it lowered her concentration ability. However, Henderson worked extra hard to overcome these obstacles and ensured she brought change into the nursing profession.
Virginia Henderson, as a legend nurse contributed immensely to nursing and this caused a great impact to future generations in several ways. First, upcoming nurses will get motivation to pursue high education in nursing as a manner of emulating her footsteps. Her contributions create a positive impact for the future as well since nurses will feel encouraged to carry out research and write books that explore the profession. Additionally, the nursing generation will also make some advancements in providing services that are efficient to patients. This will emulate some of her teachings which include concentration in the line of duty (Henderson, 2010). For example, nurses are going to learn the significance of spending their time and helping students instead of engaging them in activities that are irrelevant like filing. They also fulfill this through attending to their day and night duties in an appropriate manner to ensure patients recover to the point they can take care of their needs.
Henderson created an impact that was positive to all future age group of nurses. Because of this, they can apply her great skills of leadership into teamwork in order to attain their goals. In future, professionals engaging in nursing practices will be able to imitate democratic form of leadership from Henderson. This will help nurses in positions of leadership to guide their colleagues rather than control them in the course of work. What is more, health professionals will be able to work in harmony by appreciating differing opinions from each other for purposes of fostering unity and understanding. Learning from Henderson’s contribution, future group of nurses are going to embrace education to deliver quality services that benefit individuals, aggregates in societies and families.
Analyzing the contributions of Henderson and the manner in which she enhanced change in the nursing sector impacts me on a personal and professional perspective I relation to values, knowledge and beliefs. Personally, values I have acquired from her include being gracious and building good relationship with individuals I associate with. Additionally, I am going to stick to the value of offering help to others in a manner that is peaceful in order to attain my goals (Davies, 2009). Her contributions in the field also made me value opinions from colleagues and increased my appreciation of teamwork. Also, she encouraged me to pursue higher level education so I can gain useful knowledge in the profession. From her, I also learn the role of democracy in nursing and other organizations in creating excellent relationship between leaders and their staff.
Davies, P. (2009). Nursing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Henderson, V. (2012). The nature of nursing; a definition and its implications for practice, research, and education. New York: Macmillan.
Henderson, V. (2010). Principles and practice of nursing (6th ed.). New York: Macmillan.
Henderson, V. (2011). A Virginia Henderson reader: excellence in nursing. New York: Springer Pub. Co.
Henderson, V. (2012). Basic principles of nursing care (Rev. 2012. ed.). Geneva, Switzerland: International Council of Nurses.
Smith, M. (2009). Best practices in nursing education stories of exemplary teachers. New York: Springer Pub.