Each nurse, regardless of education level or role, is a leader. Nurses rely on decision-making and critical-thinking skills to improve patient health, whether as a caregiver at a patient’s bedside or as a manager in the boardroom. The nation’s healthcare landscape is changing, and nurses are at the forefront of this change. They are being asked to strengthen their leadership skills so that they can deliver optimal patient-centered care and take on a growing number of roles — administrators, policy advisers, researchers and teachers.
Healthcare organizations are asking nurses to obtain as much education as possible. In addition, a growing number of healthcare facilities now prefer, and even require, newly hired nurses to have, at the minimum, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
The Importance of Nurse Leadership
There is a chasm between today’s healthcare environment and that of the previous decade, according to “The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education” report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), renamed National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in 2015. Twentieth-century healthcare was designed mostly for patients suffering from acute illnesses, but more patients now suffer from chronic illnesses.
There are more than 2.75 million working nurses in the United States, per a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 estimate, which places this group of healthcare professionals in a prime position to help restructure our nation’s system. In fact, one of the IOM’s key messages is that nurses take on leadership roles and work as full collaborators with other healthcare professionals.
Nurses are still in demand to work in traditional patient care roles, but they are also needed to work in newer roles, some of which rely heavily on solid leadership and management skills. Nurse Executives, for example, are administrators who shape healthcare policies, develop budgets and encourage others to think creatively. If you work as an Informatics Nurse, you use your technology skills to manage the flow of medical data within medical facilities. Whether nurses work as traditional caregivers or in formal management capacities, they need to be strong leaders.
Qualities Needed to Work in the Nursing Field
Strong nurse leaders possess a number of qualities, which include the following:
- Critical-thinking and decision-making skills
Whether developing technology, advocating for patients, or running hospitals, nurses need decision-making skills. For example, the IOM says nurse leaders must identify problems and areas of waste, devise and implement plans for improvement, and make necessary adjustments to achieve goals. These responsibilities require an ability to analyze problems, look at the bigger picture, and devise solutions.
- A commitment to lifelong learning
Being accepted into nursing school, studying hard, and getting good grades is just one component of being a learner. As the health system changes, nurses must keep pace and be willing to learn throughout their careers.
- Willingness to work as part of a team
Effective patient care relies on nurses who can collaborate with other healthcare professionals. Per NursingLink, nurses should also be willing to team up with other nurses, mentor them and develop friendships.
How Earning a BSN Can Benefit Nurses Who Want to Lead and Manage
A BSN is the new standard in nursing education. In “The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education” report, the IOM recommends that 80 percent of the nursing workforce have a BSN by 2020.
In addition, a 2014 online survey commissioned by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) indicated that a substantial number of healthcare employers either prefer or require newly hired nurses to have earned their BSNs.
An increasing number of healthcare facilities now require that their ADN- and ASN-prepared nurses agree to earning a BSN within a set window of time, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.
A big part of the reason why nurses with BSNs are in high demand is because of the skills they acquired in their nursing programs, including critical thinking, leadership, management and communication. Each course offered by the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) online program at Mississippi College (MC) is designed to help you strengthen these very skills.
If you want to pursue more complex nursing leadership and management roles, you will need a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or higher. A BSN provides a solid foundation for graduate nursing studies.
Nurses are being called upon to expand their leadership skills, whether they work as traditional caregivers or in formal management roles. Good leaders have certain attributes, including critical thinking and communication skills, a commitment to lifelong learning, and the ability to work as part of a team.
The online RN to BSN program at MC helps nurses strengthen these skills and prepares them to thrive in the challenging new healthcare landscape.
Learn more about the MC online RN to BSN program.