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Leading Care: Jennifer Graebe and the American Nurses Credentialing Center

In this interview, Jennifer Graebe ’97 BSN, MSN, RN, NEA-BC reflects on her leadership in advancing nursing through service in a professional organization.

She is Director, Accreditation in Nursing Professional Development and Joint Accreditation for the American Nurses Credentialing Center in Washington, D.C.

Jennifer Graebe

How did you rise to this leadership position?  Stepping into leadership was an organic experience for me. As I became more 'competent to expert' in my clinical experience; my role as an informal leader in the emergency trauma department began to evolve. Much of that growth is attributed to the becoming more self-aware about the human experience of our patients and how we contribute to their experience.

Who influenced you?   Interestingly enough, the patients I served influenced me to become a better nurse and leader. I was responsible for the facilitation of learning, onboarding and competency assessment of the ED nurses. Secondly, I would say that Florence Nightingale has been my biggest influencer. I continually reflect back on her work and theory of practice to guide me. She was a pioneer in modern day nursing and many of her mission driven statements are resonant in today’s dynamic healthcare environment. Personally, I feel we need more of her to influence our roles than ever before. Lastly, the culture of the Villanova College of Nursing has been the strong foundation to my growth and development as a nurse and person. Villanova didn’t just teach me how to be a good nurse; Villanova taught me how to be a good person.

Why is it important to you? Why are you enthusiastic about your work in this role?    At the end of the day, I always have to be ready and prepared to go back to where I started. The bedside, taking care of patients. I believe that every nurse, at their core, should feel this way. Nursing can open many doors and opportunities for growth and advancement. From advanced practice, to industry, to academia or administration.

What are the issues you deal with and what’s the biggest challenge in your area?   The biggest challenge is the unfortunate patriarchal culture in healthcare organizations. Nurses are still vying for a seat at the table and especially mid-level managers. The role of a mid-level manger/leader is highly underrated and both theoretically and financially is under rated and not routinely supported liken to physician colleagues in similar roles.

How does innovation fit into your role as leader?    Many times, the focus on innovation is related to technology. Being innovative to me means challenging the status quo, taking risk, being humble and looking for opportunities to enhance and improve processes. Being innovation means embracing change and that trying something that was already “tried” is not a bad thing. Being innovative as a leader means being open to other individual(s) thoughts, ideas and reactions.

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently on your rise to this position or while in it?   I would have learned to negotiate my “worth” a little better. This is still something I am working on developing.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to be a leader in their area of interest?     Leadership is not an entitlement but a reward and honor to serve others at a higher level.

What is your leadership philosophy?  My leadership philosophy is rooted in Servant Leadership.

What’s your hope for our profession?  My hope for the profession is that the role of mid-level leaders/managers is elevated. That impact on the workforce is highlighted and that organizations put processes in place to reduce their burnout; support their worth financially and there are professional development opportunities that promote their talents.

I also hope that healthcare organizations develop strategic relationships with their academic partners both nationally and regionally to address the healthcare workforce shortage, particularly nursing, to identify opportunities for growth of employees and those responsible for their growth.