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What does it take for a nurse to be a leader in a team of healthcare providers? Is it knowledge, experience, temperament or power given by a job title?

In the realms of business, sports and public service, the qualities of leadership have been measured, dissected, discussed and experimented upon for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Still, “leadership” is difficult to define, quantify and impart to others — largely because it is subjective, often short-term (during natural disasters such as hurricanes, for instance), and carries a power of persuasion over others that some resist.

But in every human endeavor that involves groups of people, leaders emerge. Leaders are, in fact, essential to planning and inspiring collective behavior in all settings. Healthcare, in particular, because it involves life and death and illness, requires solid leaders to ensure continual improvement of outcomes, incremental adoption of best practices, and the mental health and happiness of the healthcare delivery team.

As a nurse with a BSN, you will be well-prepared to take on leadership roles and to take your career to its highest level.

Leader vs. Manager

A manager is a formal title; a leader is a role.

“At its core,” writes Eileen Williamson, MSN, RN, on, “the nurse manager role is to ensure everything functions like a well-oiled machine.”

Critical to the nurse manager role are planning patient care, setting team goals, ensuring quality improvement, budgeting, and the “soft” people skills used to keep one’s team happy and professionally cared for.

Leaders, on the other hand, writes Williamson, “are less hands-on and more focused on setting standards, spearheading transformation, and inspiring and influencing their teams.”

Crucial skills for leaders include fulfilling the healthcare organization’s mission, vision and long-range plans. They often advise and shape policy, oversee quality measures, ensure regulatory compliance, and oversee both quality and staff satisfaction and organizational outcomes.

The two roles complement each other and often reside in the same person. The best managers are leaders. Both must be skilled at motivating staff, setting a positive example, exhibiting solid decision-making skills, coordinating teams and delegating duties.

BSN Leadership Curricula

Mississippi College offers a program of RN to BSN courses that give you the best possible training to become high-level managers and leaders. Courses include Transcultural Patterns of Health Care, Policy and Finance, Nursing Leadership/Management, and Christian Perspectives in Ethics.

Graduates of this program will achieve these learning outcomes:

  • Incorporate clinical reasoning and Christian caring in the delivery of safe, holistic, patient-centered care to diverse populations.
  • Integrate knowledge and accountability, with relevant evidence-based practice as the critical thinking premise for all healthcare
  • Understand how the effective use of technology and informatics can improve healthcare.
  • Apply management and leadership concepts in the delivery of quality care services.
  • Utilize communication techniques and collaborative skills to facilitate safe, quality outcomes for patients, families and populations.

The program is specifically designed for the working RN, and you can take as few as one and as many as three courses at once. Each course is seven weeks, and you can complete the entire program in one year.

If you want to become a nursing leader and/or manager, this RN to BSN program will provide you with the skills and training you require for success.

Learn more about the Mississippi College online RN to BSN program.

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