What skills do you need to be a leader in nursing?

Nov 28, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Community, Education

by staff

Nursing is a rewarding and challenging career that is critical to the healthcare industry. When you are looking to move up in your chosen career, becoming a nursing leader is the next logical step for a talented nurse who displays leadership qualities. After all, the next generation of nurses needs someone to mentor and guide them on their journey.

Nurse leaders provide the best and most relevant practices of how to become the best healthcare provider possible. If you are thinking of taking that leap into the next phase of your career, look at some necessary skills a nurse leader should have and see where you measure up.

A nurse leader that acts with integrity makes honest and forthright decisions in all cases and acts as a role model for junior nurses in their charge. When you are a leader with integrity, you are responsible for teaching future leaders to make ethically viable choices. This includes treatment plans and making any changes carefully and safely. As a leader, you should always be beyond reproach because you are dealing with sensitive information and materials that could easily be mistreated.

Critical Thinking
With nurse leaders practicing more autonomy in the healthcare industry, the ability to think critically in instances where a vast array of factors need to be taken into consideration is invaluable. With a highly collaborative environment spanning across multiple disciplines, a nurse leader who can make informed decisions about patient care is a valued member of any healthcare organization.

The 4 steps of critical thinking include:

• Ask the question – narrow down what the critical problem is and isolate it so you can focus on the right factors.
• Analyzing the situation – figuring out what needs to be done and creating a plan of action that is reasonable and achievable.
• Act on the information – put the plan into action and follow it to the letter.
• Assess the outcome – take a step back to assess whether the plan of action is working and if there are any changes that need to happen to make it more effective. This is a good time to evaluate the effectiveness of the action taken.

Organization Skills
The one constant in patient care is that things can change in an instant. Staying on top of everyday tasks such as medication schedules and checking vitals are important in making sure any changes in condition are caught quickly and can be dealt with before they become critical. A nurse leader needs to organize everybody’s time and make sure that all members of the team are managing their team for optimal patient care. These leaders are also responsible for employee scheduling, medication orders, running reports and keeping the medical teams updated. Exceptional organizational skills are a must in keeping everything running smoothly.

Communication Skills
A leader in any industry should have superior communication skills so they can get their ideas across effectively and task their staff accordingly. It is especially important when it comes to patient care where the slightest miscommunication can cause catastrophic consequences. A nurse leader communicates by listening as well as conveying their message so they can make sure their message is being received. Giving precise instructions and asking for confirmation, processing feedback, and listening to the patient’s concerns are all examples of how communication skills help in providing excellent care.

The environment of healthcare right now is multidisciplinary where individuals who have expertise in different types of medicines form teams to care for a patient’s health. It is important for a nurse leader to have skills in collaborating with other people of different characters and personalities. They need to deal effectively with employees who report to them as well as senior executives and doctors. The leadership skills necessary to build an efficient and productive team in nursing are those that can be applied to any organization as the principles are the same. The values of leadership such as respect, mentorship, collaboration, and conflict resolution are universal wherever individuals work together towards a common cause.

It is important that nurse leaders mentor the junior employees that are in their charge so they can train the next generation of healthcare providers properly. Acting as a mentor can also help you move up in your career as you will be training your replacement for when you get promoted. A good leader knows the importance of guiding junior employees in their careers. The year 2022 will see a critical shortage of nurses, so it is imperative that leaders in this service focus on mentoring the new generation in the right way.

Promoting an atmosphere of mutual respect with patients, colleagues and employees is a great way to encourage communication and teamwork in a department. Nurse leaders lead by example by showing respect to everyone involved in healthcare, from the families of the patients to the senior executives. When employees feel respected, they are more apt to go the extra distance in their jobs, treat others with respect, and look to their leaders for guidance and mentorship.

Conflict resolution is a critical skill for nurse leaders to maintain a team environment in their departments. When a conflict arises, it is crucial that the parties involved look to their nurse leader to help solve the issue swiftly and with respect and compassion. These could be a conflict that a patient has with a member of the staff, or two juniors have with each other. When a leader can move in to resolve the conflict amicably and with respect, this encourages others to do the same when faced with similar situations.

Emotional Intelligence
Nursing is a challenging occupation and teaching emotional intelligence can help someone who is starting out develop ways to cope with the everyday stressors that come with the job. This takes some practice and with the right leader, nurses can make critical decisions and maintain compassion and respect even during difficult situations.

Change is the only constant when it comes to healthcare and there are technological innovations being introduced into the industry all the time. A nurse leader who can adapt to these changes quickly and efficiently and can train others to do the same is a valued member of any team.

Lifelong learners
A good leader knows that once you get promoted, your job of learning and teaching doesn’t just stop. Nursing is a constantly changing landscape of new medications, technologies, and changes in the health conditions of patients. The leader that can adapt can also show their staff how to do the same and encourage them to improve their existing skills. Getting degrees such as a DNP-FNP from online schools like Walsh University can help any nurse move forward in their careers while still having the ability to keep working. These online courses are designed for those individuals who are looking to move up and become leaders in their industries.

Working knowledge of technology
It is impossible to be a leader in today’s healthcare environment without having some degree of technical knowledge. Technological advancements are happening all the time and the nurse leader who can embrace, implement, and teach these innovations to other staff is an invaluable asset to any organization.

Putting your best foot forward and representing your organization with dedication and professionalism will put you at the top of the list when it comes to moving up. Professional nurses are becoming more autonomous and holding higher positions that take them into the boardroom in positions of great responsibility. A professional demeanor goes a long way in dealing with stakeholders at all levels and providing valuable input at the highest levels. Some positions that are available for nursing professionals as they move up include:

• Nurse Leaders — Nurses who move their way up into nurse leaders are still in the field teaching juniors the necessary skills to provide excellent patient care.
• Nurse Manager — A nurse manager is involved in more of the administrative duties such as scheduling, coordinating training sessions, hiring, and collaborating with the health teams on patient care.
• Nurse Administrator — A nurse administrator runs nursing departments on a greater scale than a manager. You can think of this as a store manager who manages the staff of one store versus a regional manager who manages multiple stores in a region.
• Executive — A nursing executive is the most senior position available to nurses and includes titles such as Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Nursing Executive. They work in the C-suite of the healthcare organization’s hierarchy and oversee all nursing operations.

Whether you are looking to move up in your career as a nurse and train others in your profession, or take an executive role and join the C-suite of your organization, there are certain leadership qualities you need to possess. Becoming a nurse leader or higher means that you are leading the way for the next generation of nurses who are dedicating their lives to the best in patient care.

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