The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) has a set of core competencies that all nurse executives should develop: communication, knowledge, leadership, professionalism and business skills.
These competencies are essential because nurse executives “design and manage healthcare delivery systems, promote effective nursing practices and ethics, and ensure all departments run smoothly,” according to Career Profiles. As leaders, nurse executives rely on their administrative leadership education and skills to fulfill the many roles and responsibilities within the healthcare management specialty.
Importance of Nurse Leadership
As leaders in the healthcare field, nurse executives are responsible for ensuring nurses follow procedures and patients receive safe and effective care.
Career Profiles states that nurse executives “serve as leaders by promoting diversity, fostering community between staff members, being accountable for their own actions and decisions and educating and teaching staff members.” From a high-level perspective, nurse executives must provide a comfortable environment so employees and patients can thrive in every aspect.
According to Nurse Leader, “nursing leadership/management is as much a specialty as any other clinical nursing specialty. As such, it requires proficiency and competent practice specific to the executive role.”
Leadership has evolved into an essential and complex role within the healthcare field, making it the top priority of all institutions nationwide. Without effective leadership, organization and structure would be lacking — and many patients would suffer the consequences.
Expanding Upon the 5 Nurse Executive Core Competencies
The best nurse executives possess all five components put forth by AONE:
Communication and Relationship-Building. A good understanding of communication allows nurse executives to create relationships with others within the organization and influence employee behavior. These characteristics can also be seen on a patient level because nurse executives are still required to be involved in provider-patient relationships.
Knowledge of the Healthcare Environment. Nurse executives must be knowledgeable about healthcare to effectively deliver clinical practice information to employees. This responsibility ensures all patients receive proper care and that employees follow precautions.
Leadership. Nurse executives need to be able to lead large groups of individuals. Essentially, they oversee the entire healthcare facility. If nurse executives do not know how to take charge of a situation or delegate specific tasks to employees, operations will be disorganized.
Professionalism. Along with leadership, nurse executives must have a good handle on professionalism. Nurse executives should take accountability for mistakes but not overreact in ways unbecoming of a leader. In addition, being professional allows leaders to advocate for the community they serve, helping to implement diversity and inclusivity.
Business Skills. Finally, nurse executives should understand the business aspects of healthcare. Most executives are intimately involved in the financial and administrative aspects of the facility. If they lack the skills to develop a financial and strategic work environment, they will lead the organization in the wrong direction.
Cultivate Core Competencies With a Master’s Degree
One way to cultivate core competencies as a nurse executive is to further your career by earning your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Those who enroll in the MSN in Administrative Leadership in Nursing online program at Northeastern State University will develop leadership skills and prepare for high-level roles in healthcare settings.
Students will expand their knowledge base in cultural perspectives, advanced research, evidence-based practice and current issues and trends facing professional nursing practice. This intensive program, completed in as few as 12 months, allows all students to demonstrate leadership in nursing practice to initiate change and improve the quality, safety and outcomes for individuals, populations and systems.
For example, the Advanced Leadership Development course covers advanced knowledge to manage change and new processes effectively. In the Organizational and Systems Management in Nursing course, students explore the various systems of administration and management within the healthcare field. The Healthcare Finance and Economics course covers financial and resource management basics. The Human Resource Management course allows students to learn about human resources issues in healthcare.
Each future nurse leader will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter influential roles in healthcare, such as director of nursing, chief nursing officer, nursing supervisor or department manager.