Nursing is changing, not only in the United States, but also around the world. Nurses have been facing numerous challenges, including physician shortages, an aging population, and the retirement of experienced nurses, for a while now. The increasing demand for quality healthcare and a system that provides fast responses has put additional pressure on nursing. Nurse leadership encourages nurses to step up into roles that help them provide solutions to overcome the challenges facing nursing today. The type and level of leadership in nursing makes the difference between high- and low-quality healthcare, and here are some reasons why nurse leaders are so important in today’s healthcare systems.
Advocacy for Quality Care
The role of nurses has evolved to include advocacy for quality healthcare. Nurses are now more than actors carrying out the instructions of physicians or other healthcare practitioners but rather thoughtful strategists working to make informed decisions that help advocate for better care for their patients.
Due to the larger ratio of nurses to physicians, decisions that pertain to the quality of care or even the type of care patients receive are often left to nurses. This skewed ratio highlights the importance of nurse leadership, especially in cases where the physician is not available.
Healthcare practices and facilities that understand the role of nurses in the advocacy of quality care for their patients always make strategic suggestions for the improvement of care from their nurses seriously. They let nurse leaders spearhead initiatives to incorporate these strategies into the larger nursing bodies, and make sure nurse leaders implement these strategies in the teams they lead.
Inspiring Other Nurses Through Mentorship
Nurse leaders who use their positions and skills to encourage changes in healthcare inspire nurses who look up to them. When these inspiring nurses take part in mentorship programs for new and graduate nurses, transitions into nursing practice and retention rates for new nurses increase. A higher number of nurses has a major impact on healthcare as a whole, as it improves the provision of care while reducing loads on other healthcare practitioners.
Encouraging Evidence-based Practices
Nurse leaders should encourage evidence-based practices within the teams they lead. Evidence-based practices require nurse leaders to remain up to date on the latest nursing practices, since nursing practices are always changing. To stay informed, nurse leaders can subscribe to health notices and professional publications that outline these new practices. They can then pass on this knowledge to other nurses, which will help raise the overall quality of care nurses provide. These practices can also encourage better choices within patient care.
Helping Improve Patient Experiences
Nurse leaders are also responsible for monitoring nurses in their teams to ensure they are providing the highest level of care. If there are any issues in the type or quality of care provided, nurse leaders should listen to, record, and address patient concerns or complaints promptly and appropriately.
Great nurse leaders try to ensure high-quality experiences for their patients and nurses by encouraging high-quality care for their patients and their families.
Participation in Financial and Business Decisions
Healthcare management personnel are tasked with and responsible for making the best financial and business decisions for their healthcare organizations. Nurse leaders are increasingly being brought into the decision-making process as they should also have a voice in these matters. This is because nurses will be directly impacted by any financial and business decisions made, as they are a critical part of healthcare systems.
Changing economic and financial expectations call for nurse leaders who understand not only healthcare delivery, but also the economics involved in the delivery of care to be part of the decision-making process. Nurses can get the hands-on skills and experience required to effectively participate in these processes by completing advanced nurse leadership programs. The online DNP nurse executive programs at Baylor University, for example, arm students with the skills required to be active participants in making and influencing financial and business decisions through the combination of their intimate understanding of healthcare systems and informed recommendations of where financial resources would be best used to aid in the provision of high-quality patient care.
Help Prevent Burnout Among Staff and Other Healthcare Practitioners
Nurse leaders are also tasked with taking care of nurses and other healthcare practitioners working in the same environment. Burnout is a serious concern for nurses and other healthcare practitioners, especially in areas where the ratio of patients to nurses is too high. Some symptoms of burnout include physician and mental exhaustion, emotional distress, stress, job dissatisfaction, loss of morale or motivation, and cynicism. Burnout is so serious in healthcare because it directly affects patient safety and the quality of care provided.
Nurse leaders are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout. They are also trained to recognize it in each of their nurses because everyone is different and burnout can present differently in different people. By recognizing burnout early, nurse leaders can take appropriate measures to ensure it does not become a much bigger problem.
Educating Other Nurses
Besides their roles as mentors, nurse leaders can also act as learning and educational resources for other nurses and healthcare practitioners. This often happens through a process known as knowledge transference and collaboration between nurse leaders and other nurses. Nurse leaders can work alongside other nurses and their patients, patient families, communities and caregivers to pass on information that encourages and sometimes ensures better healthcare outcomes.
The dissemination of knowledge, information, experience, and unique challenges allows nurses to learn from other nurses, understand the importance of nurse leadership, and help them improve the level of care provided to patients.
Nursing leadership is such an important part of the nursing practice as it provides nurses with inspiration and motivation while allowing nurses to learn from nurses in leadership positions. Nurse leadership makes whole nursing teams successful, with successful nurse leaders encouraged to keep learning and evolving as nursing does. Great nurse leadership has been linked with better patient outcomes, higher quality of care, and higher levels of nurse retention and job satisfaction.