The Basics of Nursing Leadership

Today’s complex, multifaceted healthcare systems need great leadership. For nurses, the healthcare industry’s need for leaders represents both an opportunity and a challenge. Nurses interested in leadership roles are in demand and have opportunities to make significant contributions to their organizations. Nurses can learn many leadership practices and principles in the classroom and in clinical practice. Earning a BSN can help you lead your department, organization or group to new levels of quality patient care.

By learning how to lead, you can advance your own career and also contribute more to improving healthcare for your patients. You can have more opportunities to influence others and make a difference in your work.

The Value and Importance of Nurse Leadership

Nurse leaders help their organizations excel at helping patients. To this end, nurses in leadership roles provide support and direction to their team members. Within the field, there can be significant variation between one leadership position and another. Leaders must be flexible and ready to lead during challenging situations. If problems arise, leaders are prepared to act and help their teams rise to the challenge. While there are different leadership styles, strong leaders work to motivate and challenge their teams.

Successful nurse leaders rely on their teams for help and input. Being a responsive supervisor who genuinely cares about each team member can help you gain the trust and respect of the people who work with you. At the same time, effective leaders are decisive in times of crisis and know when to act with available inputs.

Nurse leaders need good judgment and the ability to think quickly. A high degree of professionalism is expected, since nurse leaders represent the organization’s management, and nurses on the team look to their leaders for direction. Leaders should remember that their coworkers, subordinates and patients can view nurse leaders as role models.

Qualities and Qualifications of Nurse Leaders

Since nurse managers are responsible for their units, they need specific preparation and training. Nurse managers can be directly involved in hiring, training and supervising other nurses. They can create and enforce policies and procedures for their department or unit. As leaders in their units, they can be responsible for verifying that other nurses have the necessary training, licenses and certifications. In addition to providing leadership, nurse leaders can also provide direct patient care.

To become a nurse manager or head nurse, you might need some work experience, additional education, training and specific qualities. Generally, head nurses have at least five years of experience in nursing. Many nurse leaders have a BSN degree. Nurse leaders need to be experienced and well-educated so they can provide good direction and leadership. With their extensive backgrounds in nursing, well-prepared nurse leaders can help nurses with less experience learn to become stronger nurses and provide better patient care.

A nurse leader typically directs and supervises staff in a unit or department. A combination of skills, education and clinical training is usually required of nurses aspiring to leadership roles. These nurses typically also have particular characteristics and traits that help them lead effectively.

Learn more about Northeastern State’s online RN to BSN program.

Sources: Head Nurse

American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination: Nursing Leadership

American Nurse Today: Nine Principles of Successful Nursing Leadership

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