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Be a Leader: The 3 Skills (and a Principle to Live by) That You’ll Need to Rise to the Top in the Nursing World.

by David Nesmith
November 20, 2018
A photo of South University nursing students practicing patient care.

According to the BLS, the demand for all types of nurses continues to grow. As it does, the demand for nursing department and team leaders. Exponentially.

It's never too early to be thinking about your nursing career trajectory. To help you do that, here are three skills that will help you reach the heights of the industry. We've also thrown in an essential principle to practice for good measure.

  1. Decision making

    Decision making is a key leadership skill in any work environment. Whether it’s who to hire, how to schedule staff, or which treatment approach to pursue, the ability to make a good decision with available information is vital.

    Nurses' decisions have always had important implications for patient outcomes. Nurses are often cast into the role of active decision makers in healthcare by policy makers and other members of the healthcare team.

    No single decision-making formula can be used in all situations.

    In order to be a good decision maker, you need a systematic approach so that, no matter what type of decision you have to make, you can make it with confidence. You can’t just rely on your gut. You need to be able to analyze data and project the future of every decision to increase your success.

    In the nursing field, clinical decision making is vital. It’s something that you develop over time, so the sooner you begin honing your decision-making skills, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

  2. Conflict resolution

    Let's face it, even the most well-oiled machines can skip a gear every now and then. So too can a great, cohesive team have an occasional hiccup with one member on the "hic" side and the other pulling for "cup" team.

    Guess who settles these conflicts? That’s right, the leader. And, if you want to be an effective leader, you better learn how to resolve some issues.

    Handling conflicts in an efficient and effective manner improves quality, patient safety, and staff morale. Also important – it lessens the stress on the team.

    Effective resolution and management of a conflict requires clear communication and an understanding of the perceived areas of disagreement. Miscommunication is responsible for too many unnecessary conflicts. Good conflict management means knowing and understanding the mutual and individual goals of those affected. It then becomes a job of understanding each perspective and working toward a solution that meets their mutual goals.

    Here are five styles of handling conflict:

    • Dominating
    • Obliging
    • Avoiding
    • Compromising
    • Integrating

    It has been commonly believed that each of these styles depend on the disposition of the leader. Recently, however, these conflict management behaviors are believed to be partially situational. Effective conflict management means choosing the style that matches the situation at hand.

  3. Delegating

    For a leader, delegating means assigning tasks and activities to team members below you.

    There are many benefits to delegating, some of which are:

    • Training. You can teach someone how to do something, but most people can only master a task by doing it themselves. Delegating tasks, with close oversight for the true novice, will help you develop others and instill even more confidence.
    • Trust. When you delegate something that is meaningful, you’re saying, “I trust you to do this.” Your delegate will not only feel better by having your trust, but they are also motivated to own the task and move heaven and earth to get it done right.
    • Time. Even super-you can’t do everything. If you try, you’ll burn out and you won’t be effective overall. Think of it this way – as a leader you should have your eye on the bigger picture. You can’t afford to get lost in the minutiae.

  4. Integrity

    Integrity is less a skill than a way of life. It means following moral or ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances, despite what's most profitable for you. Even if no one is watching. Especially if no one is watching. Having integrity means being true to yourself and doing nothing that would demean or dishonor yourself or anyone else.

    There's an old saying that goes, "The only way to build self-esteem is through esteem-able acts." The same goes for integrity. To be a person with integrity requires practice. Here are ways you can practice integrity in the workplace:

    • Always keep your promises and commitments, even if it takes extra effort.
    • Do not gossip.
    • Do not let someone else take the blame for something you did.
    • Never reveal confidential information that someone has trusted you with.
    • Just do the right thing without expectations of advancement or reward.

Being a nurse leader isn't easy. If it was, everyone would do it. If you practice the above skills and life principle, you’ll have a strong start for reaching your career goals and rising to the top of the nursing profession.

You can further strengthen your nursing leadership abilities by advancing your nursing education. While all of South University's nursing degree programs teach some leadership skills, if you’re truly passionate about becoming a nursing leader, our Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program with a Specialization in Nurse Administrator, our RN to MSN with a Specialization in Nurse Administrator, or our Doctor of Nurse Practice degree program may be right for you.

by David Nesmith
November 20, 2018
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4 Life Hacks You’ll Get Along With Your BBA Degree

by David Nesmith
October 2, 2018
A photo of South University students at their commencement ceremony.

So, you’re thinking about pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree. You probably already know this can be a firm foundation for a career in the Marketing, Finance, Manufacturing, Advertising, IT, and Banking industries. When you think about it, a BBA degree can help to set you up for success in pretty much any industry.

But did you know that the skills you’ll learn will also help to set you up for success in all aspects of your life? Even navigating disputes with your neighbors? Among all the other helpful things you’ll have the opportunity to learn when studying for a BBA, you'll pick up these skills you’ll rely on for the rest of your life:

Active listening

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation, nodding and saying "uh-huh" while the other person is talking, and all along you're focused on what you’re going to say next? Or watching a lecture but mentally picking out the flyest outfit possible for tonight's date? You might think you are "multi-tasking," but what you're really doing is depriving yourself of important knowledge and perspectives, while depriving people around you of the gift of actively listening to them.

The experiences you get from BBA coursework can turn active listening from a chore to something you don’t even notice you're doing. In addition to the introductory coursework in communications that most BBA candidates get, some coursework at South University depends on active listening and understanding of directions in order to pass.

"Think of it like making a cake or putting together a bookcase," Laura Baker, DBA, South University’s department chair for the College of Business Online Programs. "If you don't follow an individual instruction correctly, you'll end up with a flat cake or lopsided bookcase. It's the same with some of our coursework, which relies heavily on steps that build upon each other over time. If you don't actively listen enough to understand the instruction, and execute it as directed, you’re in danger of going down a wrong and lonely path."

For two days, try forcing yourself to be present and actively listen to everyone you engage with. You’ll definitely see a difference. People will respond to you more positively and they will even listen to you more intently.

Don't you want to make that second nature?

Critical thinking and decision-making

We all have friends who seem to make the wrong choice as often as they make the right, right? They always pick the wrong love interest, or car, or job even. These people may have a firm grasp on their emotions, but they lack or aren't using their critical thinking skills. They aren't "playing the tape through," predicting what their decision is probably going to turn out like in a few weeks or months.

That ability is also important on the job. If your job is procurement, there are a lot of factors, beyond the cost, to consider when picking a supplier.

  • Are they dependable?
  • Can they fill an order on short notice?
  • Do they always have inventory?
  • Where are they located?

Your job is to find the supplier that fits your company's purchasing style. Trust us, fewer headaches are often worth the extra fees.

"Those same courses at South that require a number of steps also force a student to think critically," adds Baker. "You can’t take your eye off the bigger picture. You have to ask yourself if this action will advance me to my goal. And you have to anticipate the land mines and roadblocks each decision might present. The act of examining all possibilities, weeding out the ones with the obviously wrong outcomes, making compromises when needed, and weighing each choice against the others will help you make decisions with confidence and authority."

Confidence and authority? That sounds like a recipe for success!

Conflict resolution

Pretend you and your neighbor are in a feud over your adorable puppy, Petals. Petals is so sweet and cute there's no way anyone could not love her. But when there’s a full moon, Petals likes to howl. Maybe your neighbor cares more about a good night of sleep than a dog’s instincts. People are weird, you know?

How would you solve this situation without bad feelings and resentments?

To people without conflict resolution skills, burning his house down or moving to a new neighborhood seem like the only options. But a person who looks at the situation from BOTH perspectives can often come up with a mutually beneficial solution. Your path to a BBA can teach you how to do just that.

"It's all about empathy," said Baker. "You can't resolve conflicts without understanding all of the parties involved. But empathy means more than that. It means being able to put yourself in their shoes. Many of our courses teach that."

"Take our Global Business Management class, for example. That course teaches students about other cultures and the importance of respecting their ways of doing things. If your goal is to seal a deal, you better know if, in your counterpart’s culture, shaking hands is like a slap in the face."

So, what's the solution to the Petal problem? What if you took the time to understand that your neighbor suffers from insomnia and can’t get back to sleep once awake? And because of that, he's too tired to do his job well or take his kid to soccer practice? What if you offered to keep outrageously gorgeous Petals indoors when there is a full moon? Seems like that is a worthy compromise to keep the peace. Who knows? Maybe he'll offer to watch Petals when you travel? Stranger things have happened.

Either way, you won’t have to find out if your neighbor’s bark is worse than his bite.

Bonus life hack: Leadership

Guess what? All of the above skills are essential traits in a good leader.

  • Active listening? Check
  • Critical thinking? Check
  • Decision making? Check
  • Conflict resolution? Check

Throughout the entire BBA process, you will have the opportunity to learn how to effectively communicate, negotiate and all the other qualities that make a good leader," Baker added. "You learn how to speak, understand and be empathetic towards others, and these are all of the key components to motivating and managing people. Leadership skills are involved in pretty much everything you learn in a BBA program."

So yes, a BBA can be the foundation for a good career. But better yet, it can be a strong foundation for a great life.

Want to know more? Talk to our admissions team about the BBA degree program at South University. Call us at 1.888.444.3404 or request information today.

by David Nesmith
October 2, 2018
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South University, Tampa Recognized for Work with Local High Schools

by South University
May 22, 2018
An image of Dr. Nicole Cross.

On May 3, 2018, South University, Tampa and faculty member Dr. Joseph Heinzman, Jr. were honored with a Certificate of Recognition from Hillsborough County Public Schools for their work with the Hillsborough County Public Schools Hospitality and Tourism Advisory Committee.

"I want to thank South University, Tampa President James McCoy for his support of this activity that has benefitted high school students seeking a career in hospitality and tourism management or in general business management," said Dr. Heinzman, the Business and Healthcare Management Program Director at our Tampa campus, who has been serving as the Hillsborough County Public Schools Hospitality and Tourism Advisory Committee secretary.

Chef Clyde Tanner of The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design; Santiago Corrada, CEO of Visit Tampa Bay; and South University’s own Dr. Heinzman were the only business partners in Florida to complete an extensive survey of the State of Florida High School Hospitality and Tourism Curriculum for the Florida Hospitality and Tourism Annual Conference in Miami. Their input was reviewed broadly and changes made to the Florida State curriculum based on their recommendations.

Today, the Hillsborough County Public Schools students have a broad curriculum covering many aspects of business with a focus on hotel management, hospitality management, and tourism management.

In 2018, South University’s support also included judging the annual DECA competition in January. DECA is a not-for-profit organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. For their help with the competition, the university was recognized at the awards banquet in front of 575 students, administrators, and teachers representing 15 high schools in Hillsborough County at the TPepin Conference Center.

Learn more about South University, Tampa and our College of Business today.

by South University
May 22, 2018
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Meet Nicole Cross: Austin Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Director

by South University
May 14, 2018
An image of several South University nursing students.  The image has the National Nurses Week 2018 logo in the right corner.  It reads nurses inspire, innovate, influence.

Dr. Nicole Cross is the type of person whose positivity, excitement, and passion for her work is immediately apparent and contagious from the minute you meet her.

"I love any opportunity that allows me to communicate with and educate others, whether it is public or motivational speaking, counseling, consulting, coaching, teaching, or journalism," she says. "When I can talk with other people, when I can help someone and support them in making important life decisions, that is when I'm the happiest."

Establishing a Successful Career & Expertise in Counseling

Today an accomplished journalist, educator, and mental health professional, Dr. Cross initially began her career focused on counseling. After earning a bachelor's in psychology and speech communications, a master’s in behavioral sciences, and a PhD in counselor education, Dr. Cross practiced in both private clinics and various public health agencies. Her career highlights include serving as the Texas Southern University Director of the Office of University Counseling, Career, and Disability Services and later as the Director of Counseling and Behavioral Health for The Potter's House of Dallas (a 30,000 member megachurch led by Pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes).

On the side, Dr. Cross served as a relationship expert for a Houston radio show and, in time, became an in-demand speaker at conferences, seminars, and events on effective communication practices, self-improvement, and relationships. She even found time to teach college courses online and in person.

Bridging Psychology, Health, & Journalism

By 30, Dr. Cross was happy with her success, yet was unsure of her next move up in counseling. Instead, she decided to recommit to her interest in journalism—something she first remembers exploring as part of her middle school newspaper. "You've got Dr. Oz and you've got Dr. Phil," she says. "Why not Dr. Cross?"

After studying broadcast journalism at the New York Film Academy, which later named her a distinguished alumni, Dr. Cross began working as a news anchor and health reporter. She started a “Healthy Living with Dr. Nicole” show and later hosted a personal health program featuring local health professionals. Most recently, in Austin, she led the popular Wellness Wednesday segment, educating viewers on how to talk to children about topics like friendships, relationships, and cyberbullying.

Since becoming a journalist in 2013, Dr. Cross has earned awards that include four Associated Press awards and an Emmy nomination for Breaking News Coverage. “I took a major risk trying something new, not knowing if I would sink or swim,” she says. “Those awards bring to life my philosophy that all things are possible. I use it as a testimonial to anyone willing to risk trying something new. The same rules apply: if you work hard, it will pay off.”

Returning to the Classroom

While anchoring in Austin, Dr. Cross began teaching at South University and soon found herself wanting to get more involved in the program; education is something Dr. Cross has always felt strongly about.

"The moments in my life that helped me and motivated me, as much as it was my family, it was also those educators who went the extra mile to keep me on the right path," she says. "I want to be that for someone. I want to be the reason someone works that much harder. Gets that extra degree or challenges themselves to go further than they expected or further than they've been exposed to in their personal lives."

In 2018, Dr. Cross became the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Director at South University, Austin and is enjoying educating a new generation of counselors. "I'm at this stage in life when it's about significance and meaningfulness and purpose," she says. "It's about me being a change agent for others, and as Program Director I can do that."

Discover Our Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MA) Program

Interested in a career in Clinical Mental Health Counseling? This Master of Arts degree program can help you prepare, allowing you to explore the theories, principles, and dynamic applications in the field, get training in effective assessment and treatment practices, study the significance of research in the field, and gain competence in ethical, legal, and professional standards. Request information or learn more today.

by South University
May 14, 2018
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Meet April Stidham: MSN Program Director at South University, Tampa

by South University
January 9, 2018
An image of a healthcare professional assisting a woman.

All of her life, April Stidham, DNP, ARNP, FNP-C, has been drawn to the career of nursing. Even as child, she watched hospital shows like Emergency!, admiring the nurse featured on the show, Nurse Dixie. "She possessed self-confidence, self-assuredness, professionalism, and intelligence. I admired her leadership and interaction with patients, emergency responders, and doctors," she recalls.

Today, Stidham is the Program Director for the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner programs at South University, Tampa, and has 35 years of experience practicing in Virginia, Washington, Tennessee, and Florida.

She got started in the field right out of high school with an associate’s degree program in nursing, earning her degree at 19 and her RN license by age 20. As her responsibilities grew and she took on more administrative roles, Stidham continued her education, earning a BSN in 1995 and completing an MSN-FNP program in 1997.

Over the course of her career, Stidham has worked in several internal medical practices as well as a variety of hospital departments, long-term care settings, and family health clinics. She has had numerous peer-publications and professional presentations, helped to secure a handful of research grants, and been involved in almost a dozen clinical studies.

"I love being a nurse practitioner," she says. "I try to empower my patients through education and letting them take charge and responsibility of managing their health, with me being there to offer support as their primary care provider."

Over time, her interest in educating patients evolved into a desire to educate students as well. She first dabbled in teaching after earning her MSN and taking on adjunct faculty roles from 1998 to 2000 and then 2003 to 2006 at the University of Virginia. These experiences inspired her to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2011 and to pursue additional teaching opportunities.

"I wanted to be able to teach students and give back what I had learned over the years from my nursing career as an RN and as an advanced practice nurse," she explains.

Equipped with her DNP, Stidham accepted a position at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), where she served as an Assistant Professor and later DNP Coordinator over a 5-year period, teaching and developing courses from the bachelor’s to doctoral level.

While there, she was also a family nurse practitioner in the ETSU Nurse Managed Clinics, including the University Student Health Center and Johnson City Community Health Center—providing primary care to uninsured or underinsured adults with multiple chronic conditions and acute and chronic diseases in rural northeast Tennessee. Within these clinics, she ran an interprofessional, student-led clinic, with the university’s DNP, BSN, pharmacy, nutrition, social work, clinical psychology, and medical students. She earned the ETSU College of Nursing Nurse of the Year – Service Award in 2014 and the Nurse of the Year – Practice Award in 2015.

In 2017, Stidham joined South University as Program Director for Tampa's MSN programs. In her role as a mentor and instructor, Stidham enjoys getting to know and interact with each of her MSN students. "It is very rewarding to see my advanced practice nursing students grow, mature, transition to using their new knowledge, and eventually gain confidence in managing patient care," she says.

Being a good nurse, she believes, is in large part driven simply by having the compassion, caring, and desire to take care of others. Education and mentorship are also important keys to success, she advises.

"The best way for a nursing professional to grow their skills and their career is to establish a good relationship with an experienced nurse, to listen to and accept constructive feedback, and to allow yourself to gain experience and confidence as a nurse before moving to the next level of higher education."

Want to know more about the nursing programs and faculty at South University? Explore our College of Nursing and Public Health today!

by South University
January 9, 2018
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