NursingWhy Strong Leadership is Vital in the Nursing Sector

As we look back on our careers, most of us can identify the best managers that we have had, and also those that have been lacking in their leadership skills.

There’s plenty of attributes that the most powerful leaders share, but also an indefinable quality that inspires us and makes us want to work harder for a certain individual… the worst managers are those that are unable to motivate their team to go the ‘extra mile’ in their roles.

The nursing sector is one where strong leadership is absolutely vital to ensuring that healthcare facilities are run as the well-oiled machines they need to be. But it goes beyond that, as the ability of senior practitioners to effectively manage their staff will have a direct correlation to the quality of care provided, patient satisfaction and even mortality rates within the setting.

Achieving the optimal outcome for every single patient is the basic goal of any healthcare facility. However, there are many moving parts that feed into that, and most of those will be directly correlated to the quality – or otherwise – of the leaders tasked with delivering the best level of service and care possible.

Now, more than ever before, there is an urgent need for effective leaders in the nursing sector.

Seizing the moment

The past few years have presented the healthcare sector with some of its most difficult challenges in modern memory.

The COVID-19 pandemic, it goes without saying, was a time of major upheaval for the industry, and it took strong leadership from the ground up to keep healthcare settings running as well as they possibly could in the extraordinary circumstances.

Patients, their families and even staff were fearful of the day-to-day realities of the pandemic, while resources were stretched to a breaking point. Unexpected events such as the pandemic reveal just how innovative, emotionally resilient and quick-thinking nursing leaders need to be.

Leadership figures in the sector have had to adapt to change… and quickly. The introduction of video communication tech to treat non-emergency patients has changed nursing overnight, while the implementation of new safety and cleaning measures to combat the virus are likely to be in place for years to come.

Even though, fingers crossed, the situation with COVID-19 appears to be positively progressing, that’s not the end of the potential issues for nursing. The cost-of-living crisis in the United States and beyond could lead to a wide range of health problems, and once more, strong leadership will be required to ensure the best levels of patient care are maintained.

There’s also the staffing shortage that looks set to engulf the healthcare sector. According to research, there could be a shortfall of more than 250,000 nurses in the US over the next decade, and leadership figures will play a vital role not only in recruiting new nurses, but also in ensuring they are given strong and compassionate management to ensure they remain in the sector and feel enthused and empowered at what is a critical time for healthcare provision.

The skills of the best leaders in nursing are being put to the test amid a myriad of difficulties, but the key attributes of these individuals – determination, resilience and empathy – will ensure they continue to give their all to the cause.

Are leaders born or made?

One of the things that can deter individuals from putting themselves forward as leaders is a lack of self-confidence when it comes to speaking publicly.

However, while communication is a useful skill for managers to have, there are those who lead through their actions and not just their words.

You don’t have to be a manager in order to be a leader, because in the nursing profession there are ample opportunities for nurses and other healthcare staff to lead from the front every single day of their working lives.

There is no one, single leadership style, so people from all backgrounds and walks of life can become inspiring leaders. Training courses, such as Doctor of Nursing practice programs, enable nurses with a high level of clinical practice and experience to develop the skills and competencies they will need to take on leadership roles in healthcare.

At the end of your training, not only will you be able to maximize the quality of your own work in improving patient outcomes and the efficiency of your healthcare setting, but you will also feel comfortable in leading others too.

It’s often said that great leaders are born; they have a natural aptitude for inspiring others to deliver high performance levels. However, great leaders can be made too, and there’s no doubt that you can use your clinical experience to motivate and empower others, to ensure your setting is managed effectively and to enhance patient satisfaction.

The truth is that you have been on the frontline, you have served as a nursing professional in the hardest of times, perhaps working 12-hour shifts in under-staffed units or with minimal resources. Great leaders are often born, yes, but there’s absolutely no substitute for experience in the nursing sector.

Hard and soft skills

So, what are the attributes of a strong leader in the healthcare sector?

They combine so-called ‘hard skills’, which are effectively professional competencies, with ‘soft skills’, such as communication and interpersonal skills.

You will, of course, need practical skills in order to motivate your staff, because it can become very difficult to stand as a leader without having the necessary clinical experience and medical knowhow. The truth is that a team in any sector may not respect their manager if they don’t have years of hands-on experience under their belt.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are those attributes that you may already have without even knowing it. Do you communicate well with patients, your fellow nurses and other members of your team? Are you a good listener? Do you take pride in a job well done, and feel compelled to share those feelings with others?

If so, you may already have the soft skills to become a great leader. You will need to be able to inspire others and motivate them, even when things are tough in your healthcare setting, and you will need to be able to recognize when your team members are doing a great job, or when they might need an opportunity to air their grievances in a safe space.

Being a leader isn’t always easy, but it can be thoroughly rewarding when you see your hard work and efforts pay off. Who knows… taking on a leadership role may be the kind of boost your nursing career needs right now.

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Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz! aims to be the destination of choice when it comes to what’s happening in the digital health world. We are not about news and views, but informative articles and thoughts to apply in your business.

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