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Leading Care: Mark Crider and the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association

In this interview, Mark C. Crider ’93 MSN, PhD, RN reflects on his leadership in advancing nursing through service in a professional organization.

He is Executive Director and Professor of Nursing at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology; and President, Board of Directors, Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (2017-present).

Mark Crider

How did you rise to this leadership position?  My experience with nursing’s professional society began when I was an undergraduate nursing student  and I served as President of the Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP).   I was a delegate to the American Nurses Association from both Pennsylvania and California, and served on the Board of Directors of the California state chapters of ANA, American Psychiatric Nurses Association, and the NLN. My nursing health policy dissertation examined the American Nurses Association (ANA) in serving as both a professional society and a labor organization.

Who influenced you? So many great nursing leaders over the years, too many to list! Personally my grandmother influenced me most with her unconditional love and support.  

My educational experience at Villanova greatly influenced my career! Specifically Dr. Carol Weingarten. We met through SNAP. When choosing a graduate nursing program I considered both Penn and Villanova. My decision was made in recognition that the faculty of both programs were equally doctoral graduates of NYU and Columbia, and Villanova was half the cost, so I chose Villanova.

My acceptance to Villanova's graduate nursing program was not immediate. My undergraduate QPA was 3.05, and my nursing GPA was below 3.0. In addition, the admission requirement at the time included achievement on the Miller Analogy Test (MAT). I barely met that achievement on my second attempt.

The College provided me a 'conditional' admission; I needed to demonstrate academic ability in my first graduate courses before I could matriculate as a graduate student. Understand during this time I needed to work full time as I was paying off my undergraduate student loans used in paying for my time at Penn State...I remember, 10 years of monthly payments of just over $139.00. My Villanova application was just one year into this 10 year requirement.

With this understanding I contacted Dr. Weingarten requesting her service as my graduate academic advisor. Know that the year is 1989. Dr. Weingarten informed me she does not advise graduate students. My response to her was, "You do now!"

With her advisement/guidance I was able to work full time, commute to class from Harriburg, PA, and achieve my M.S. in nursing education from the College in four years, graduating in 1993 with a 3.65 GPA.

Twenty three years later, after earning my PhD in nursing with a health policy focus from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), the nationally topped ranked nursing school at that time (2008), I returned to PA and was elected PSNA president in 2016. This appointment again reconnected me with Dr. Weingarten as she serves as the Chief Editor of The Pennsylvania Nurse, PSNA's peer reviewed journal.

Carol and I are now collaborating colleagues...from graduate academic advisor to our current collaboration. This is my true professional development as a result of Dr. Carol Weingarten and Villanova University College of Nursing!

Why is it important to you? Why are you enthusiastic about your work in this role? In my early career I recognized we do not live in a micro community.  Our local thoughts, ideas, and decisions influence a broader community. With the introduction of social media this understanding is compounded and needs to be understood.  Leaders now have opportunities to influence through a variety of avenues.  I wanted to do my part in providing leadership in providing opportunities in moving PSNA forward, understanding that the full spectrum of nursing professionals includes nurses of five social generations.

What are the issues you deal with and what’s the biggest challenge in your area? The issues we deal with are not new and include education of and advocacy for the contribution of professional nursing to the health and wellness of our society.  Much of society continues to be informed of our healthcare system, and contributors, through our popular television and media representation, including popular television series centered in a hospital environment.  Professional nursing characters in these programs are missing, when the reality is that hospital systems provide the only opportunity for 24 hour nursing care. As such the environment swarms with nurses at all perspectives of patient care, from the bedside to the corporate board. And in communities, understanding the contribution of professional nursing through primary care, home care, community education, public health, advocacy, and political leadership.

How are you effective in your role? What’s critical to your success in the role?  I am fortunate that I am a resident of Harrisburg, PA, the location of the PSNA office.  As such I can expedite access to political leaders in moving PA’s nursing agenda forward.  With current technology this geographic proximity is not necessary, and I enjoy being physically engaged in our advocacy efforts.  Critical in my role is communication.  Leadership of the association is lead by the board of directors.  As board president I need to assure the work of the association is lead by the Board.  I provide insight to the Board in making decisions providing leadership to the association in meeting our mission.

How does innovation fit into your role as leader? PSNA understands the differences among nurses of different generations.  Optimizing our resources in addressing the unique diversity among our membership requires innovation and use of current technologies.

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently on your rise to this position or while in it? Actually no.  In retrospect had I done anything differently I would not be in this position.  My past prepared me to take on the challenges of my role and provide the necessary leadership to PA nurses.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to be a leader in their area of interest? Take risks, challenge yourself, and learn from those experiences.  Stay open to the feedback from others no matter who they are, and take time to get clarity when faced with challenges.

What is your leadership philosophy? My philosophy aligns with the situational leadership style.  Good leaders assess the situation, stakeholders, and desired outcomes, and provides the appropriate and necessary leadership to support those involved in achieving their shared goals in a given, specified situation.  So, adaptability is critical in providing leadership.

What’s your hope for our profession?  My hope is that we continue to find opportunities for the members of the profession to speak in a collective voice.  In doing so we would be able to assure consumers of health care are equally engaged as stakeholders in optimizing the health of our communities.