A successful nursing career requires resiliency in the face of uncertainty, Susan Orsega, MSN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, director of the Commissioned Corps Headquarters, said during a career forum hosted by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s (NINDS’s) Building Engagement and Community for Nurses (BEACON) program in February 2022. She joined a plethora of nurse pioneers at the forum to share ways that nurses can collaborate and make significant contributions to and grow professionally in the nursing field.

The career forum featured Orsega, Antoinette Jones, MSOD, RN, Maureen Gormley, MPH, PhD, RN, Avindra Nath, MD, Walter Koroshetz, MD, and Shannon Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the team “provided strategies to improve support and enhance inclusion for NINDS nurses in professional development, communication, collaboration, and mentorship.”

Orsega, a distinguished nurse with contributions to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Ebola, COVID-19, and emerging infectious disease outbreaks, shared her own career highlights during the event and offered the principles that helped guide her career: resilience, and the concept of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA), which was first used by the U.S. Army War College to describe conditions resulting from the Cold War to guide leadership and exemplify the ability to shift and respond to challenges.

“Resilience requires a leader to be disciplined,” Orsega said. “The Hardiness Resilience Gauge is comprised of three qualities—challenge, control, and commitment. It allows me to frame my thinking to be more purposeful. Challenge is about taking that risk and putting yourself out there. Control is your belief and your ability to influence outcomes and commitment is about the purpose—believing that you are spending time on what matters most.”

Orsega also spoke about how nurses can collaborate and contribute at decision-making tables to expand their careers and pursue new and innovative opportunities. Following Orsega’s remarks and a question-and-answer session, Koroshetz offered input on the experiences that await an eager nurse.

“What we’ve learned is that each of us has opportunities to contribute to the greater good, but these opportunities change, and they change unpredictably,” Koroshetz said. “I think it’s important that trying new things is always on your plate. Opportunities will arise. You don’t know where you will end up.”

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