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Pathways to leadership

Ongoing partnership with the Dorothy Wylie Health Leaders Index (DWHLI)

In 2017, WeRPN toured Ontario to hear from RPNs about the kind of supports we should offer as a professional association. We heard that RPNs wanted more opportunities for leadership development and over the past two years we’ve been working hard to expand our focus on leadership. One way we’ve done this is by offering RPNs bursaries to participate in a very unique learning opportunity with the Dorothy Wylie Health Leaders Institute.

Founded in 2001, the Institute brings healthcare leaders from many differ-ent professions together for four days of intensive learning, followed by a year of coaching support. Participants register in pairs, generally an emer-ging leader alongside a more experi-enced leader. As part of this leadership development experience, participants, together with an executive sponsor from their organization, complete a “capstone” project that is meaningful for the organization. Projects ranged from the development of an electronic tool to easily refer home care patients to community services to support their healthcare goals, to the creation of an Elder Care Team to support alternate level of care patients in acute care environments. Leading the project allows the participants to bring their new leadership learning to life.

Over the past few years, RPNs who’ve attended the Institute have told us the experience has been truly transformative. We wanted more RPNs to have access to this unique experience, so we’ve increased the number of bursaries we offer. In 2018, WeRPN provided 15 RPNs with bursaries to attend the Institute.

In their reports to WeRPN, bursary recipients consistently noted the opportunity to network with a diversity of accomplished healthcare leaders, hear from amazing speakers, and feel included as highlights of the experience. Christine Rivard, from Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win, remarked, “There were many highlights for me throughout the week at DWHLI, however the most memorable was the feeling of inclusion. I have attended many inter-professional workshops, but have never experienced such an overwhelming feeling of inclusivity by all the participants.”

In a week packed with content, one of the major “ah-ha” moments for many of the 2018 RPN participants was learning about the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership.

Emotional Intelligence: The ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they’re feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people (

Heather MacArthur said, “Learning more about how crucial emotional intelligence is in leadership, it has given me additional confidence in my abilities. Emotional intelligence is a key leadership skill that I am confident that I possess and I will continue to strive to fine tune it to be successful.”

Kylie Melo and Carol Anne Quart agree. “The most successful leader is not always the one with the most education, but one who is more in touch with their emotional intelli-gence and ability to inspire and motivate their team members.”

During the four-day intensive, participants work with their coaches to develop their project plans. Several months after the Institute, participants reconvened on a webinar to share an update on how their project implemen-tation was going. Julia Scott, Institute co-founder and facilitator, commented on how impressed she was with the quality of those presentations: “The RPN teams’ work was sophisticated, they were passionate about it and they are obviously very enthusiastic to grow and develop as leaders.”

This is certainly reflected in Melo and Quart’s project report to WeRPN: “This experience allowed us to be able to focus on what we felt needed a change… We are from two different offices and yet both felt the same inconsistencies and gaps in education and training. Our project will reduce risk for staff and patients as well as increase satisfaction. This has given us an opportunity with work with others in our organization to implement a positive change. It has given us as RPNs a voice with our stakeholders that otherwise we may not have had.”

WeRPN is proud to support amazing RPN leaders. We are inspired by you every day. Institute bursary recipient Yang Li sums this up perfectly with this advice to other RPNs: “We are an awesome bunch! As knowledgeable and competent as we are, every RPN should be proud of what we bring to healthcare in this province. Keep up your great work and lead on!”

2018 WeRPN Dorothy Wylie Health Leaders Institute Bursary Recipients:

Natasha Holmes & Carole Labreche, Algonquin Nursing Home

Anna Palaganas, Veronica Dockery & Andrea Smith, Centre for Addiction & Mental Health

Carrie Pitts & Carey Gurnie,

Collingwood General & Marine Hospital

Darlene Norton & Yang Li,

Lakeridge Health, Ajax Pickering

Christine Rivard & Alex Faryon,

Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win

Kylie Melo & Carol Anne Quart,

Saint Elizabeth Healthcare

Erin Arsenault, Stevenson Memorial Hospital

Heather MacArthur, Victorian Order of Nurses