Dorothy M. Smith Nursing Leadership Conference Inspires LEADERSHIP BY DESIGN

DMS_Dean McDaniel Introduction
“Leadership by Design is important because we have to know what we want. We have to begin with the end in mind and have a vision for where we are going.”
– Anna McDaniel, Dean and the Linda Harman Aiken Professor

During this spring’s Dorothy M. Smith Nursing Leadership Conference, more than 500 nurses, students, health care leaders and interdisciplinary professionals learned about “Leadership by Design,” which was the theme of this year’s one-day conference held at the J. Wayne Reitz Union. Leadership and design thinking were not the only topics of the day, however. The College of Nursing’s conference was an official celebration for the Year of the Nurse and the centennial of the women’s suffrage movement, which gave women the right to vote through passage of the 19th amendment in the United States. Faculty, staff and attendees wore white to pay respect to nursing’s roots and acknowledge the dedication predecessors had toward advancing women and the nursing profession.

Now in its 18th year, the biennial conference is named in honor of the college’s founding dean, Dorothy M. Smith. The purpose of the conference is to explore how leadership can be successfully applied to address practice problems that adversely affect individuals, as well as the cost, quality and efficiency of care.

Keynote Speakers Answer the Call to Lead DMS_Rear Admiral

The Feb. 5 conference featured three dynamic keynotes from nursing leaders across the country. Dan Weberg, PhD, RN, is the Head of Clinical Innovation at Trusted Health, a modern nurse staffing platform, and served as the opening keynote speaker. As an expert in nursing, health care innovation and human-centered patient design with extensive clinical experience, Weberg shared his thoughts on building cultures of innovation.

The lunch keynote was delivered by Maria Shirey, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, the Jane H. Brock – Florence Nightingale Endowed Professor of Nursing and associate dean for clinical and global partnerships at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing. Shirey gave an example of her own high-performing interdisciplinary team through the fully funded Heart Failure Transitional Care Service for Adults Clinic.

Using the popular children’s book “The Hungry Caterpillar,” Shirey compared the ups and downs of working in an interdisciplinary team to the rise and fall of the caterpillar’s body and final transformation.

“True to the story’s line, the caterpillar really transforms into a beautiful butterfly,” she said. “At the end, if you are willing to be patient, trust the design process and emphasize leadership and teamwork, you, too, can be one of those beautiful butterflies.”

The closing keynote message was also an emphasis on leadership in nursing and was delivered by Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, PhD, RN, FAAN, the principal deputy assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As the former acting surgeon general, deputy surgeon general and chief nurse officer of the U.S. Public Health Service, Trent-Adams’ keynote was considered the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Trent-Adams shared that on her first day of ROTC, she was told, “You are a leader. From this day on, your life will never be the same.” She said she believes all nursing students should be told that same thing on the first day of nursing school because nurses work to encourage patients to keep living and keep fighting every day, which she said solidified leadership in her mind.

Trent-Adams closed her presentation with the advice to never forget to be grateful for the opportunity to be a nurse because what nurses do is very special.

“Not many get invited into people’s homes and to hear their worst nightmares and to hear their secrets, to sit at the bedside of someone as they are dying, to look into the eyes of a parent when they are losing their child,” she said. “Nurses hold a very, very special place. I want you to always remember that you need to have a vision for where you want to be because where there is no vision, there is no hope. We need to envision the future for nursing. Your future as a leader is laid out for you to take advantage of. The choice is yours. It’s right in front of you.”

DMS_BreakoutsessionBreakout Sessions Inspire New Skills

Morning and afternoon breakout sessions allowed attendees to learn more about big picture leadership and hear specific case studies. Five sessions were offered in the morning, with four sessions repeating in the afternoon to allow attendees to maximize their time. Sessions were led by UF Health nurses, interior designers, an executive coach, a facilitator and a nurse academician.

One breakout session was facilitated by interior design colleagues from the UF College of Design, Construction and Planning. Participants were split into groups that included interior design students who led discussions and multi-sensory exercises on designing the optimal “Third Place in health care.”

Another popular breakout session was led by four UF Health nurse leaders, who each shared their experiences using design thinking to improve outcomes or programs in their respective areas within the hospital. Nicolle Davis, PhD, is the stroke program coordinator for UF Health Shands Hospital and a recent graduate of the College of Nursing’s PhD program. She explained how her team used design thinking and a five-step process to improve acute stroke outcomes.

“With design thinking, we sought to truly understand the core of the issue by talking to the people who deliver the care every day, with the goal of bringing a creative solution for more specialized care to stroke patients in the emergency department,” Davis said. “The role of the stroke nurse brings expertise directly to the patients in the emergency department and has demonstrated improvement in the overall delivery of stroke care and decreased acute stroke intervention times.”

Designing Leadership 


The purpose of the Dorothy Smith Conference is to provide opportunities for emerging and established nurse leaders to hear innovative ideas from exceptional speakers who represent a broad array of expertise, said the conference co-chair Jeanne-Marie Stacciarini, PhD, RN, FAAN.

“This year’s conference did not only deliver inspiring dialogue on important issues, it provided a valuable avenue for celebration, reflection, growth, collaboration and, of course, leadership,” Stacciarini said.

Did you miss this year’s conference? Visit to watch the recorded keynotes.