Don’t think that once you get your nursing degree, you’ll get to spend all your time taking care of sick people – the thing you trained for and do best. No matter what kind of profession you choose, in health care as in business, you’d be best to bone up on your meeting skills too, because you’re going to find yourself in many of them.
You learned effective organizational skills during your nursing training; for instance, you neededto organize your equipment before beginning a medical procedure. Take those same kinds of skills into the meeting room to either run or participate in a meeting so that you and the other meeting attendees get the most out of the time together. A prepared agenda can help you stick to the key issues you’re meeting about and can help you to stay on topic. Know who is going to present what material, what time the meeting starts and ends, and in what order the information is going to be presented.
Meetings run smoother when someone takes the lead to keep everyone on track and make sure no one person dominates the meeting. Keeping attendees focused and limiting the amount of time they speak is the job of the meeting chair or leader. Nurses often meet with others on the health-care team to discuss patients. At other times, you may meet with other nurses to discuss company policy or new training issues. If you’re hoping to earn a promotion or take over the lead in your office or hospital floor, meetings can be the arena for you to show your superiors and other nurses that you have what it takes as a leader.
Nursing can be a stressful profession, especially when you work in a facility that’s short-staffed or going through management changes. Use the meeting times to take care of your business with your peers and associates. But take a little of the time to laugh and have some fun. Meetings provide the perfect climate for easy exchanges, giving you and your fellow nurses a chance to socialize and get to know one another better. Arrange for snacks, and give attendees a chance to break for treats. Ask one nurse to share a story at each meeting. Give awards and recognize extraordinary efforts at meetings to make them more fun and engaging.
You’ve got to be careful that nursing staff meetings don’t turn into gripe sessions. Sure, everyone has something she can complain about, but your meetings are neither the time nor the place. Negativity is contagious, but positive thoughts and messages can be just as catching. Gently turn the topic of conversation around if you hear nurses start down the negative road. Call on a nurse who you know can add a positive note to any discussion to quickly change the tone of the meeting. Talk privately to the nurses who tend to focus on the negatives during your meetings to find out about the issues that could be settled outside of the meetings.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."