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Leading Care: Jennifer Gil and the American Nurses Association

In this interview, Jennifer Gil ’13 BSN, RN reflects on her leadership in advancing nursing through service in a professional organization.

She is Staff nurse, Neuro ICU, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Director-at-Large (Staff Nurse), American Nurses Association (ANA), 2019-2021.

Jennifer Gil

How did you rise to this leadership position?   I first got introduced to nursing leadership through SNAP-Villanova. I, then, served on the State SNAP Board of Directors from 2011-2013. After graduation, I began my career at MGH and became involved with ANA-Massachusetts, where I served on the board for two terms. Through these experiences, I was inspired to pursue a national position on the ANA Board of Directors where I was elected to represent staff nurses.

Who influenced you?  My two biggest influencers were Drs. M. Louise Fitzpatrick (the College's late Dean) and Carol Weingarten. While at Villanova, they both saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. They encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, explore new opportunities, and take advantage of all the nursing profession has to offer.

Why is it important to you? Why are you enthusiastic about your work in this role?   It is important to me because I want young nurses to realize their true potential in influencing the profession and health care.  I hope to inspire young nurses to take on leadership roles and have a voice at the table.

What are the issues you deal with and what’s the biggest challenge in your area?    One of the issues I deal with and perhaps is also the biggest challenge in my work is the engagement of nurses, specifically new-to-practice nurses. In order to advance the profession, we need to establish a culture that is more receptive to the ideas and perspectives that new-to practice nurses bring to the table.

How are you effective in your role? What’s critical to your success in the role?    My prior experience with SNAP and ANA-Massachusetts provided me with the foundation and skills necessary to effectively function in my role on a national level. My previous success has been credited to my ability to be open-minded and challenge the status quo. These attributes are critical to my success and ability to represent staff nurses and advocate for effective policy change.

How does innovation fit into your role as leader?   Innovation is integral to my role because it guides the way I function as a leader. Innovation serves as the platform for which I transform new ideas into action.

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently on your rise to this position or while in it?    I wish that I was kinder to myself and appreciate my creative thinking. I know that have the ability to make a difference. I just need to believe in myself and further define my voice.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to be a leader in their area of interest?  My advice would be to find your passion, define your goals, be strategic in creating your path to achieving your goals, and never lose sight of your dreams. There will be obstacles along the way but let them be the motivating force that keeps pushing your toward achieving your goals. It is important to be kind to yourself, find your voice, and believe in your true potential.

What is your leadership philosophy?  My philosophy is to inspire, transcend, and transform.

What’s your hope for our profession?  My hope is that all nurses find their voice, recognize their potential, and lead change to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities throughout the world.