Nurse leaders are vital to effective healthcare delivery, especially in today’s complex healthcare system. They are often tasked with juggling competing goals, such as prioritizing patient care, keeping an eye on the bottom line, and maintaining good staff morale. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, the nurse leader’s role will become increasingly important, so it’s vital to understand the nurse leader’s role. Here are some strategies you can use to become an effective nurse leader.
The Degree You Need To Become A Nurse Leader
Most of us spend many years in school as students, but learning isn’t just for students. Nurses working at every level should seek out opportunities and resources to advance their education throughout their careers. Being a nurse leader requires you to stay on top of changes in your practice area and have expertise in new care models and technologies. Keeping up with these changes is only possible through continuing education. If you’re serious about becoming a nurse leader, consider getting a master’s degree or even enrolling in an online post-master’s degree program like DNP. The post-DNP master’s program is open to nurses who currently hold a master’s degree from an institution fully accredited in one of the following APRN specialties: clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or nurse practitioner. Nurses who want to pursue master’s degrees in nursing leadership, informatics, or public health nursing can also apply.
Earning a post masters DNP online can open more opportunities for advancement and leadership roles in hospital settings. The online system can help nurses to balance work and family responsibilities while advancing their careers. Post-master’s programs allow you to earn an advanced nursing degree after earning a bachelor’s degree. You’ll gain not only valuable knowledge and skills but also become part of a community of nurses who are focused on helping one another succeed.
Strategies You Can Use To Become A Nurse Leader
1- Work with the nurses on your team
As a new nurse leader, one of your top priorities is developing relationships with subordinates. To start building these relationships, make real small talk. When things slow down, sit with individual team members and have a casual conversation about their lives outside of work. In addition to making it easier for nurses to open up about problems or concerns at work, getting people out of their professional shells will help them feel more comfortable in front of superiors who are busy giving orders from above. It means there’s a greater chance they’ll take the initiative when needed.
2- Learn from what you read
A great way to improve your communication skills is by reading up on how other people communicate. That means reading more than just articles and books that pertain directly to nursing. The most effective way to develop your leadership skills is by reading about great leaders and learning from what they did right. The Harvard Business Review, FastCompany, Forbes, and many other publications have written extensively on management-related topics that you can incorporate into your professional career.
Pay attention when watching TV or a movie and ask yourself why something works or doesn’t work in terms of what you are trying to accomplish with your communication style. Also, consider taking a class on business writing for nurses or writing for business courses if it will help you better understand how to communicate with others outside of healthcare. Always think about ways to improve your communication skills in every situation. You never know where inspiration might come from next!
3- Establish clear goals
Good leaders must establish a vision for where their team will go and how they plan to get there. This vision needs to be clear enough to communicate easily with clarity and simplicity, not just in leadership meetings but also when talking with employees one-on-one. There’s no point in having a good vision if you can’t get people excited about working toward it. Set goals that are realistic and have measurable results; share your goals with your staff so they understand them clearly. Then encourage them to take ownership of those goals to feel included.
4- Know when to delegate
One of your core duties as a nurse leader is managing people; part is knowing when and how to delegate. If you’re overwhelmed by assignments or tasks, delegating might seem like a good way out—but it could create more problems. Assigning work to someone who lacks the necessary training or experience could jeopardize quality and safety. So be honest about what can be delegated and to whom, or you could create more work for yourself in ways you hadn’t intended.
5- Show respect for your colleagues
If you want people on your team to respect you and support your decision-making, you must show them respect. Nursing is challenging, and working in a hospital or clinic can be stressful; nurse leaders must give their employees time to vent and provide support during challenging times. People will be more willing to take risks if they feel comfortable coming up with suggestions. If people don’t feel comfortable bringing issues up because they worry about how you might react, problems may not get resolved as quickly or efficiently as possible. Showing respect for nurses also means being open-minded about new ideas, no matter where they come from.
6- Take on a mentoring role
Nurses are in a great position to be leaders. Research shows that mentorship improves the quality of care, employee engagement, and retention, among other positive outcomes. But nurses often don’t consider themselves leaders because they haven’t been formally trained in leadership skills or held positions at higher organizational levels. To become an effective nurse leader, seek mentorship opportunities—even if it means taking on a mentoring role—and constantly learn new ways to lead. Become familiar with Leadership books that can help you make informed decisions when dealing with situations at work.
7- Lead by example
Being a leader isn’t just about shouting orders and giving people tasks. That can often be counterproductive—no one likes being yelled at by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Instead, take your cues from great leaders, who always seem to have their employees’ best interests at heart. Listening is key. When someone comes up with a new idea or suggestion, listen closely before reacting; after all, that person was smart enough to come up with it in the first place!
8- Set aside time to reflect
One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is that being a leader means you must be 100% at all times. If you want to be a successful nurse leader, it’s important that you set aside time in your day for reflection. Spend 15 minutes daily observing and listening rather than talking or doing. You can take advantage of quiet moments between patients before and after meetings with your team members. When you come away from these reflective periods, write down what made you pause—don’t worry about writing anything profound just yet! The purpose of reflecting is so that when more urgent issues arise during your busy day, you can quickly review what was distracting from your leadership goals.
When you start working as a registered nurse, you quickly learn that there are many ways to contribute to the health and well-being of your patients. As you advance your career, it’s important to determine what skills you need to develop to best serve your patients, colleagues, and facility. To become an effective nurse leader, consider developing the strategies mentioned above into strengths.