This week, we sat down with award-winning nurse Audrey Pyle to talk about the importance of public speaking in healthcare.
Audrey is an American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Board-Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse. She serves as the Interim Quality Resources Coordinator at The Menninger Clinic, a specialty hospital that is ranked as one of the top five psychiatric hospitals in the United States. For the past year, she has been the Chair for the nursing shared governance structure at the hospital. She received the 2016 Texas Nurses Association District 9 Outstanding Nurse Award in November 2016.
Tell us a little about your education, career path, and where you are now professionally:
I am extremely grateful for my educational background and career path. It has been an incredible journey. I studied Human and Organizational Development (HOD) and Nursing at Vanderbilt University, where I graduated Summa Cum Laude.
After earning my nursing license, I started my nursing career as a School Nurse Intern. Through this experience, I published a peer-reviewed journal article!
Six months later, I began my journey as a psychiatric-mental health nurse. I was first a novice Nurse Resident in a highly competitive and rigorous nurse residency program at my hospital. Then I transitioned into a Staff Nurse role and one year later became the Charge Nurse for my unit.
More recently, I received a promotion to be the Interim Quality Resources Coordinator at the same hospital. This role is a higher leadership position in nursing administration, and, while it is different from direct patient care, it is still quite impactful and fulfilling.
How did you become such a confident public speaker?
The HOD program really molded me into a better public speaker. I was terrified of public speaking in high school and the early days of college!
However, it was a tacit expectation that all HOD students deliver many kinds of presentations to varying audience sizes during the program. This expectation is unique in preparing students for public speaking, and it is especially unusual for educational programs in healthcare.
Many students preparing for careers in healthcare lack the confidence and competence for public speaking.
Over time, with ample exposure, I surprisingly grew to enjoy public speaking! One critical element found in effective public speakers is that they are PREPARED, which leads to confidence!
As a certified psychiatric mental health nurse, how often did you find yourself speaking in front of groups?
All the time! As a Staff Nurse and Charge Nurse, I led a psycho-educational wellness group for the patients every week for years. I also frequently speak to other groups such as different hospital leaders and staff members. I have delivered a myriad of presentations to various groups, including newly hired employees and large audiences of healthcare professionals.
Public speaking in healthcare is much more common than most people assume.
How important is public speaking your current role as the Interim Quality Resources Coordinator at the Menninger Clinic?
Public speaking is integral to my new role, but it was also essential for my previous jobs as Nurse Resident, Staff Nurse, and Charge Nurse.
Possessing effective public speaking skills—coupled with adequate confidence—can truly accelerate one’s career in healthcare, as well as in many other fields.
My advice is to not be terrified of public speaking; I read in a public speaking book once that many people fear public speaking more than death! Instead of having a fear-based attitude towards public speaking, I recommend actively seeking out public speaking training.
If this kind of training is not readily available, then it is important to suggest the idea to your supervisor and hospital administration. Advocate for public speaking in healthcare to get access to the resources needed to boost your career.
What advice would you give to hospitals looking to invest in professional development training for their administrators?
I highly recommend including public speaking instruction within their professional development training for their administrators, as well as those desiring to move into administrative positions in the future. Confident and capable public speaking in healthcare is rare when it doesn’t have to be.