Nurse Leadership: What is it & Why is it Important?

Are you a registered nurse who would like to take on a leadership role?

Perhaps you would like to know more about leadership opportunities within the nursing sector?

Either way, there has never been a better time to pursue a career as a nursing leader as the healthcare industry is crying out for individuals with drive and direction.

Within the below blog, you will discover:

  • What is nurse leadership?
  • Why leadership roles in nursing are important?
  • What skills are needed to be a nurse leader?
  • How to pursue a leadership role in nursing

Ready to take the first step in your journey to becoming a nursing leader?

Let’s get started!

What is nurse leadership?

A nurse leader is someone who has the drive and passion for succeeding in the healthcare sector through the application of leadership skills and principles.

As well as remaining focused on patient care, those in nursing leadership roles also need to be able to look at the bigger picture and determine what is best for the facility in which they work.

Nurse leaders are advocates for the nursing sector, the patients, and other nurses and are responsible for ensuring a professional and productive working environment.

If you are wanting to affect real change within the nursing sector, pursuing a leadership role in nursing can help you to achieve this. Other responsibilities of nurse leaders include:

  • Mentor other nurses
  • Lead patient care initiatives
  • Stay informed of the latest industry news and trends
  • Make hiring and firing decisions
  • Organize staff training
  • Prepare budgets

If you consider online DNP programs, which will equip you with advanced nursing and leadership skills, you can also pursue roles such as nurse practitioners, nurse educators, and nurse-midwives.

Why are leadership roles in nursing important?

In its simplest form, nurse leaders are there to help bridge the gap between practice and policy. They are there on the front line with registered nurses, ensuring that safety protocols are met and that their team are able to communicate and work together as effectively as possible.

Nurse leaders are needed to ensure that the standards set by the healthcare facility are being met so that patients and their families can receive the best possible care.

Furthermore, as well as protecting the patients under their care, nurse leaders are also crucial for upholding the reputation of their team and the profession as a whole.

Nurses make up the largest percentage of the healthcare workforce, so the way in which they work and the care that they deliver is of the utmost importance. As a nurse leader, you are responsible for helping to grow and shape the next generation of nurses.

What could be more important than that?

What skills are needed to be a nursing leader?

As a registered nurse, you probably already have many of the skills needed to be an effective nursing leader without even realizing it. That being said, you will need to develop your current skill set and be willing to learn new practices if you want to be a successful nursing leader.

Some of the most crucial skills needed for a role in nursing leadership include:

  • Effective communication

As a nursing leader, you will have to liaise with people from many different departments to maximize collaboration across the board. This means that your communication skills need to be second to none.

  • Decision making

You need to be able to think on your feet and make challenging decisions that will affect both the patients and the staff at your facility. Resident nurses and other junior members of staff will look to you for guidance, so you need to be confident in your decision-making.

  • Conflict resolution

Working in a healthcare setting is never easy, but as a nursing leader, it will be you that needs to resolve conflict and ensure that your team can work productively and effectively.

  • Adaptability

The healthcare industry is constantly changing, with new policies and technologies being introduced frequently, so you need to be able to adapt and evolve your skills accordingly.

  • Critical thinking

Critical thinking is a soft skill that is highly sought after in the field of nurse leadership as it allows you to make decisions based on an array of different factors. As autonomy in nursing continues to grow, the ability to think critically has become even more important.

  • Professionalism

As a nurse leader who is responsible for patient care, liaising between nurses, and even representing their team in the boardroom, professionalism is key. You need to be able to maintain a competent and confident persona at all times.

How to pursue a leadership role in nursing

If you are ready to take on a nursing leadership role, then you need to be willing to pursue further education. Depending on your current level of education, there are several degree programs that you can choose from, including:

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

A master’s in nursing is a good choice for registered nurses who want to take the next step to becoming a nurse leaders. There are several different programs to choose from, including health administration, healthcare management, and nurse executive programs.

Once graduated, you can expect to seek positions such as nurse manager, nurse administrator, and director of nursing.

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

A DNP degree program is designed for nurses who want to achieve clinical practical roles in nursing, as well as leadership roles within healthcare organizations. This type of nursing degree is on a par with a Doctorate or Ph.D. but with a focus on practice rather than research.

It can also be a good idea to join nursing organizations, if you haven’t already, such as the American Nurses Association. These offer free educational classes, career advice, and support for nurses in the U.S.

If you are dedicated to your patients but also ready to take the next step in your nursing career and help to shape the future of nursing, then a position within nursing leadership is a great choice for you.

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