With more than 3 million nurses in the United States today, nursing leadership at every level of the field is more important than ever. A nurse’s everyday work helps them become effective leaders and problem-solvers as they advocate for quality care to ensure that patient and family needs are met.
Why Nursing Leadership Is Important
As they work toward a common goal of providing excellent patient care, nurse leaders deal with the academic, economic, and technological issues encountered in the field’s modern climate. In order to reach that goal, those in nursing leadership need to have a strong understanding of both modern nursing issues and what may help promote or inhibit the future of nursing.
Since nurses typically see issues from holistic or ecological perspectives, they are able to view the challenge as a whole and collaborate with other groups to resolve it. Through their knowledge of the environment and systems, nurses are able to effectively coordinate resolutions. According to The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, nurse leaders should be competent in “the care delivery system, how to work in teams, how to collaborate effectively within and across disciplines, the basic tenets of ethical care, how to be an effective patient advocate, theories of innovation, and the foundations for quality and safety improvement.”
While nurse leaders aren’t born, they have the personality that typically suits leadership roles well. They’re caring, nurturing, and have empathy. Instead, nurses evolve into the role through their experiences and interactions with different people. Not all nurses begin their careers with the intentions of becoming a leader, but if they have the will and drive to try to improve the healthcare system, they need to develop into a leader. Nurses have to be able to work with physicians and other healthcare professionals in order to redesign and improve the system, whether it’s through health policy decision-making or educating students on the latest research findings.
How Registered Nurses Can Practice Leadership
As a registered nurse, you might not have the credentials to actively pursue a nursing leadership role yet. But there are a few ways in which you can practice leadership in your career.
One thing that can help you excel in nursing leadership is to study and understand the regulatory, professional, and ethical issues within your organization, along with how the entire organization operates.
Additionally, you can actively participate in nursing leadership programs, mentorships, policy- making, and political engagement. While many leadership positions require an area of expertise, leadership programs with various organizations can provide you with a formal education or training.
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Through mentorship with nurse leaders or those in other health-related professions, you can gain insight on policy-making and the business side of healthcare. As nurses have a responsibility to educate future nurses, it’s also important to serve as a mentor to others and to build a relationship with a mentor for your personal growth. Mentorship helps build “supportive relationships to enhance professional growth and maximize individual potential,” and is an effective method of sharing knowledge, skills, perspectives, and behaviors.
Finally, as a registered nurse you can become involved in the policy making and political aspects of nursing and healthcare and help improve the quality of care by demonstrating evidence to help support your ideas. To broaden your knowledge on how policies are made, implemented, and their organizational impact, become an active volunteer to serve on committees and boards for professional organizations, or work with local or national service organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.
With Shawnee State University Online Campus’s affordable online RN to BSN program, you can earn the credentials to advance your nursing career and move into a leadership role. As you gain real-world experience, the program equips you with immediately applicable skills. With small class sizes, you’ll learn from faculty who are experienced in the field and are dedicated to your success.