Nurse manager accepted into leadership fellowship program

Nurse Manager Natalie Fortson, RN

UAB Medicine Nurse Manager Natalie Fortson, RN, has been accepted into a prestigious leadership fellowship, the NurseTRUST Emerging Leaders Program, which is designed for nurses who are new to leadership roles.

NurseTRUST is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage nurses in life-changing leadership through trusted and collaborative relationships and inspire and equip nurses to advance health care at the local, regional, and national levels. The organization’s Emerging Leaders Program, which focuses on multiple leadership competencies, is conducted through virtual and in-person sessions. The program includes structured educational webinars, mentorship activities, an individualized learning project, team-building efforts, and an in-person session at the annual NurseTRUST Summit.

Perfect timing 

Fortson, currently with UAB Nursing Resource Management Systems, has several years of nursing experience, but she says her new role as a nurse manager places her in a unique position to facilitate a project for the NurseTRUST leadership program.

“Some of the groups I manage are student nurses, the student nurse apprentices, and the nursing student graduate aides,” Fortson said. “I also work with RN interns, who are new graduate nurses. I will conduct a project to be presented in San Antonio at the annual NurseTRUST summit, and my project is related to recruitment and retention of student nurses. The idea is to ensure that nursing students love the experience so much that they will choose to stay here once they enter their professional role. I have been a nurse manager for a year, so the timing makes this a perfect opportunity.”

The nomination for the fellowship came as a surprise to Fortson when she received a call from UAB Medicine Chief Nursing Officer Terri Poe. “Terri explained the opportunity and told me I had been nominated,” Fortson said. “I submitted my application and had two interviews. Thankfully, I was accepted into the program. It’s a wonderful opportunity, but it’s also an honor and a surprise.”

An ideal candidate

Fortson’s previous supervisor, Director of Professional Nursing Education Gwen Pernell, says she isn’t surprised to see Fortson nominated.

“Natalie is perfectly suited for her current role as nurse manager,” Pernell said. “She mentors and mothers all of these students and new nurses who we want to hire in the future. She’s a kind, thoughtful bubble of joy. I know that’s not clinical language I’m using to describe her, but it fits, because no matter what we throw at her, she responds with a happy attitude. She’s exactly what our new nurses and students need. Natalie has demonstrated a valuable style of leadership with them. She always knows names. She knows details about them, and she treats everyone as an important individual.”

Fortson is looking forward to a professional growth experience and also hopes to design a project that will have lasting impact.

“This is a chance to take advantage of the resources from NurseTRUST,” Fortson said. “I will have personalized mentoring, virtual mentoring, and in-person programming in a cohort of some of the other fellows. That lets us see what the others are doing in real time. There’s an individualized leadership program plan, so I can’t wait to see what that looks like. I’m also hoping that my nurse recruitment and retention project will provide something that others after me can implement here, to get that pipeline going between the nursing schools and the hospital. I believe that excellent recruitment practices and resources are a key part of resolving our staffing challenges.”

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