Aspire to Excellence To celebrate the nephrology nursing specialty and honor the nurses who care for patients with kidney disease, ANNA designates the second full week in September each year as Nephrology Nurses Week. In 2018, Nephrology Nurses Week will be celebrated September 9-15. The theme for this year is Aspire to Excellence. In keeping with this theme, I encourage you to take some time to think about what you want to achieve in your nursing career. While there are a multitude of ways to aspire to excellence, I would like to share just six ideas for how you can continue on your path to excellence in professional practice. Achieve new heights Sometimes, you develop a passion for some aspect of nephrology nursing. Your thirst for knowledge can make you an expert in that particular area. Other times, you may feel intimidated by a new task or opportunity, like public speaking or publishing in a professional journal. Anxiety can keep us from advancing in our career, but often all it takes to overcome a fear and undertake a new challenge is a little encouragement from a friend or colleague. Seek mentors One starting place on the path to professional growth is to seek out mentors. Can you achieve excellence alone? Of course, you can, but it may take many years to achieve expert knowledge on your own. Seek out mentors who have the “been there, done that” experience. They can guide you in the right direction and point out pitfalls they may have encountered, so that you can avoid them. You will find that you will have the opportunity to connect with many mentors throughout your nursing career: workmates, teachers, and ANNA colleagues. So, be a sponge and soak up the knowledge mentors have to share. Provide expertise Expertise comes in all different shapes and sizes. You may gain expertise from your schooling, on-the-job learning, or from life experiences. Benner (1984) describes five levels of expertise: Novice Advanced beginner Competent Proficient Expert Just as you sought mentorship from more experienced colleagues to move along this continuum of expertise, you also can share the knowledge you have gained throughout the process. Inspire colleagues You never know whose life you may have the opportunity to impact. It could be words of encouragement, praise for a job well done, or suggesting to a friend that they go back to school to earn an advanced degree. By planting a seed, you are helping a colleague to become the nurse they always wanted to be. Reach your potential Are you an ANNA chapter officer? If so, have you considered volunteering for a national committee? Some members rotate through chapter roles year after year, and we value and appreciate the commitment you make to ensure the success of your local chapter. Are you ready to take the next step? Consider branching out beyond your local chapter and serving at the national level. You will learn new things and gain the opportunity to network with nephrology nurses from across the country. ANNA committee members, have you considered running for a position on the Board of Directors? In this role, you will have the ability to impact nephrology nursing and interact on a broader scope with other members from the renal community. Whatever your current role is, prepare to take the next step on the journey to fully reaching your potential! Engage and educate At some level, each nurse is engaging and educating in their daily practice. You are building collaborative relationships with patients and other members of the interdisciplinary team. You are developing an effective communication style. You are being passionate about your profession and demonstrating compassion to your patients and their families. As we look ahead to Nephrology Nurses Week 2018 and prepare to celebrate our nursing specialty, I hope you will take some time to reflect on your own career as a nephrology nurse. Think about ways you can aspire to excellence. Remember, that it takes courage to step outside of your comfort zone, but it is well worth it! Sometimes it’s baby steps, and other times it a big leap of faith. What will your legacy be? I look forward to an exciting year ahead for ANNA and for each of our members as we aspire to excellence together! Lynda K. Ball, MSN, RN, CNN ANNA President Greater Puget Sound #503 Reference Benner, P. (1984). From novice to expert, excellence and power in clinical nursing practice. Menlo Park, CA: Addison‐Wesley Publishing Company.