Importance of Leadership in Nursing

Many nurses are leaders in their families, communities and on the job. It takes a strong person to care for others day in and day out. However, there is another level of leadership in nursing that requires diligent observation, management and dedication to excellence. If you find yourself gravitating toward positions of leadership in other aspects of your life, you may be the perfect person to serve as a nurse leader.

What Is Involved in Nursing Leadership?

Over the past several decades, nurses have gradually adopted greater responsibilities. As the role of the nurse transformed from a doctor's assistant to an integral member of the life-saving team, the nurse leader role emerged. It is the job of the nurse leader to guide nurses and ensure that they are adhering to high standards of quality and safety.

Nurse leaders have three primary responsibilities. First, nurse leaders are responsible for ensuring safe deliver of care, so they must be intimately familiar with the safety standards and protocols of the medical profession and their healthcare facility. They are expected to supervise members of the nursing team to guarantee that all patients receive safe care.

Second, successful nurse leaders maintain evidence-based practices within their nursing teams. This requires that nurse leaders be up to date and well informed about various medical practices. Nurse leaders should subscribe to and regularly read professional publications and health notices. Evidence-based research studies and public health concerns should inform the choices made in patient care.

Third, nurse leaders are responsible for monitoring the care that patients receive to assure that members of the nursing team are working toward optimum quality standards at all times. Nurse leaders should take patient complaints seriously and address them appropriately. Part of the responsibility of nurses is to promote a high quality of life each patient and their families. Successful nurse leaders achieve high quality experiences for both patients and nurses.

Why Does Nursing Leadership Matter?

One of the primary functions of the nurse leader is to bring individual nurses together as a team. Without nurse leaders, individual nurses would carry on with their jobs independently and would likely miss key opportunities for communication, growth and education. By bringing the treatment team together, nurse leaders verify that each nurse is obeying the same high standards of quality and safety.

Additionally, if the nursing team is not following certain protocols, the nurse leader takes this opportunity to educate the entire team about the proper methods. It is normal for employees to become complacent and cut corners as they become more comfortable in their roles. However, it is the nurse leader's job to ensure that this complacency and comfort does not morph into dangerous habits or poor quality of care.

Nurse leaders maintain the rigorous standards of care that patients and their families come to expect from exemplary healthcare facilities. Nurse leaders bridge the gap between policy and practice by ensuring that all members of a team are obeying safety protocols. Not only do nurse leaders protect patients in this way, but also they improve the reputation their nursing team and the nursing profession as a whole.

How Can I Become a Nurse Leader?

The path to becoming a nurse leader is challenging but rewarding. To begin, aspiring nurse leaders should have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. In the online RN to BSN program at The University of New Mexico, students complete NURS 408 Leadership and Management. This course trains students for the world of nursing leadership by focusing on quality improvement and patient safety.

Upon completing an RN to BSN program, you can begin to apply for jobs such as Nurse Manager, Nurse Administrator and Nursing Supervisor. These roles require a person who is able to multi-task while focusing on the elements of quality improvement and safety for patients and nurses. If you decide to continue on this path of nursing leadership, you may find yourself applying for jobs such as Director of Nursing, Vice President of Nursing or Chief Nursing Officer at any number of medical and healthcare facilities.

Throughout your career, you will have opportunities to demonstrate your leadership abilities and your aptitude for absorbing new information. Continuing education is a key component of nursing leadership and will help you stand out as a leader.

Learn more about The University of New Mexico's online RN to BSN program.

Sources: Nurse Administrator (Leader)

The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing: The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL): Point-of-Care Safety Clinician

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