Exeleon Magazine

Kylie Ward: Leading Healthcare with Compassion, Courage and Understanding

Kylie Ward_Exeleon Magazine

Whether in daily routine or emergencies, nurses are always on the frontline and are responsible for providing care for all patients. As nurses constitute the majority of healthcare providers, they have a crucial role in the overall healthcare system.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the life and health of many people across the world. It has had a devastating effect on many countries’ healthcare systems, and, of course, healthcare providers such as nurses and doctors. Nurses care for people across the lifespan and much of what they do and know has not been shared or sought out. This is now changing and going forward their contribution towards building stronger economies, gender equality, and healthier communities will be paramount.

A leading organization representing the nursing profession, the Australian College of Nursing (ACN), under the expert guidance of Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, and CEO of ACN, is building a strong collective voice for nursing and commanding the respect and recognition the profession deserves.

At ACN, they are committed to advancing nurse leadership to improve the overall healthcare system. They believe that all nurses, regardless of their job title or level of seniority, can be leaders. ACN demonstrates, through advocacy and representation, the leadership that nurses can bring to Australian healthcare.

A Leader Par Excellence

At her core Kylie Ward is a humanitarian and has always been passionate about human rights, equality, diversity and a sustainable, inclusive world. She has invested decades in developing and empowering women because she believes when women are invested in, they can flourish. She will continue to champion these causes that are close to her heart and hopes that her platform will only increase as there is much to do globally, as well as locally.

As the CEO of Australian College of Nursing (ACN) she takes on the responsibility to lead a program of transformation, turning around membership numbers to increase revenue and tripling student numbers – all within five years. “I’ve done this by leading the ACN community to find their relevance through policy leadership, political and industry influence,” adds Kylie. Due to Kylie’s unrelenting efforts, ACN is now Australia’s beacon for Nurse Leadership.

Kylie’s personal motto is “Dare to be Different.” She believes that when one does this, they can think uniquely, challenge themselves and those around us, and therefore become true to one’s greater purpose.

She has learnt from being a nurse and a transformational culture specialist, that a leader should work to understand and uncover the relationships the organization has to itself, its members, students, community, and stakeholders.

Climbing a Steep Hill

The journey for Kylie has not been easy as she has dared to challenge what is, what was, and what could be. “It is hard to say what I would have done differently because it means I may not be where I am today, as upon reflection I may have pulled back to not be in the firing line of people resisting change,” shared Kylie.

She wishes to have found her voice earlier but fathoms that it comes with age and experience along with overcoming self-doubt and criticism from others. She believes that either of two things could have happened, she would have crumbled under pressure or found her inner strength.

Kylie has always been driven by the people she knew, and the many she didn’t know but who contacted her, thanked her for speaking out and telling their truth. It was for these people she kept her courage and conviction.

She has always felt that she has a smart brain, a strong voice and a kind heart and she should use that to make a difference for humanity, and for those who will never get the opportunity to feel heard by decision makers, powerbrokers, and politicians.

Battling COVID-19 in a Humanitarian Way

The ACN had its most successful financial year of its 73-year history; Kylie worked hard to steer the organization through its response to COVID-19, with generosity and inclusive principles. The most important decision she made was to invest in the emotional wellbeing of the nursing community instead of banking surplus income – to benefit all Australians.

ACN seized opportunities and secured new projects. This resulted in securing government funding to deliver 3,000 refresher courses to non-clinical Registered Nurses and COVID Vaccine training to 100,000+ clinicians. ACN invested $500k to extend the refresher courses to Enrolled Nurses. The organization also gave $1million in scholarships to members and sent out over 800 care packages sourced from areas affected by bushfires and floods in rural regions (valued at $200 each) to nurses and front-line workers.

Leading Australia to a Better Healthcare

The last five years for Kylie at ACN has been accentuated by major accomplishments. These are many and varied and include achieving financial success, and the implementation of numerous programs such as:

Men in Nursing

There are hundreds of men who are nurses. Kylie Ward, a steadfast soldier in the fight for gender equality, facilitated a successful campaign to assist with dismantling the stigma around men in nursing. Men from different positions shared their experiences in a series of 30 videos and an eBook. Each of these stories is a unique and raw description of being a man in nursing and highlights the value of nursing as a career path for men.

Institute of Leadership

Kylie led the development and launch of the Australian College of Nursing’s ‘Institute of Leadership’ in August 2019 with the intention to initiate the advocacy of nurses as leaders and to work towards changing the profile of nurses and nursing.

Nurses Support Strategy

Kylie led the development of a critical strategy, ‘the COVID-19 Nurses Support Strategy’ which provided practical help through a six-pronged approach: Information, Upskilling, Advocacy, Support, Changes to the Health Care System and Community Awareness.

This strategy proved to immediately address the need for accurate research and clinical procedures in the fast-changing landscape. The strategy resulted in the design, development and launch of various portals for registering complaints, gathering information, live Q&A, political advocacy, information on promoted materials to use with patients and an ongoing discussion about the virus.

The Australian College of Nursing Foundation

Kylie Ward is a foundational supporter of the ACNF which supports nurses through scholarships, grants, awards, Fellow programs, and study tours to provide high-end leadership training to keep nurses at the cutting-edge of healthcare.

She also led a media blitz to raise awareness of Australia’s most revered army nurse Lieutenant Colonel Vivian Bullwinkel AO, MBE by telling her story to the press on ANZAC Day in 2020. It is Kylie’s ambition to have a statue and memorial erected at the Australian War Memorial to recognize her story, and all the work and sacrifices of the nurses and women who fought for Australia. This will be the first memorial statue of a woman and nurse on the grounds of the Australian War Memorial once commissioning is final.

Into the Future

As an early career nurse Kylie has always had a dream of what the professional peak body could and would be and everything, she has introduced has been based upon that. The future of the Australian College of Nursing is strong knowing they have paved the way for nurses to have a professional voice of influence and impact. Whether that be in education, policy, advocacy, leadership, community or social impact nurses have so many avenues to be involved, network, learn and contribute to our greater body of knowledge. “This is a very exciting time where we are commanding a new history with respect, regard and influence,” concluded Kylie.

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