According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 275,000 additional nurses will be needed from 2020 to 2030. Employment opportunities for nurses are projected to grow at a rate of 9%. This is faster than all other occupations from 2016 to 2026.
Nursing shortage can have a significant impact on the quality of care delivered to the patient. For example, patient-to-nurse ratios can get distorted due to a lack of nurses; patients may not get the attention they deserve because of the lack of qualified nurses.
In addition, the healthcare industry has faced significant challenges in the last two years. Never before has there been a greater need for strong and dynamic leadership in healthcare, including nursing leaders. However, it is important to understand that nursing management and nursing leadership are not the same things.
While nurse leaders and managers aim to deliver quality care efficiently, the two roles have different responsibilities.
For example, a nurse leader oversees a team of nurses and is responsible for making decisions and directing patient care initiatives. They are expected to have advanced clinical knowledge and must be up to date on the latest healthcare research, promote patient health and safety, focus on shortening hospital stays and readmission rates, improve efficiency, and provide team members with the knowledge and tools to deliver high-quality care, understand diagnostic tests, be able to develop treatment plans, oversee patient care, patient advocacy and education initiatives, reduce nurse turnover rate and over community health nursing initiatives.
On the other hand, a nurse manager is more focused on day-to-day operations and is responsible for supervising and training team members. In addition, nurse managers work with various stakeholders to fulfill organizational commitments and meet budget requirements. They are also expected to handle escalating situations between patients and healthcare providers, oversee insurance, reimbursements and electronic health records, hire nursing staff and collaborate with other managers to achieve optimal patient outcomes.
The healthcare industry has changed drastically over the last few years. Particularly in nursing, there is now a much greater focus on giving leaders and team members greater autonomy and allowing nurses to give their input and contribute to improving patient care. That is why the nursing profession needs leaders who are more aligned with a hospital’s goals and who can derive the best output from their team by recognizing the potential and strength of each team member. Nursing leaders today also face the challenge of high turnover and need to implement strategies that promote loyalty, commitment, and a greater sense of belonging and affiliation towards their employer/hospital/healthcare facility. Healthcare has also seen significant advancements in the use of technology. Strong nursing leaders are needed to foster change and to manage and coach, ensuring staff keeps up with advancing technology.
Hence, nursing leadership is no longer limited to managing staff, assigning duties and ensuring patients are looked after. Nursing leaders must take initiatives in multiple areas, including administrative tasks, patient care initiatives, Human Resources, finance, technology, research, lobbying & advocacy and policy-making. The traditional leadership style can no longer work in this new healthcare environment. Leadership today has to be more collaborative and shared. The goal should be to transform organizations to be more efficient and productive and deliver high-quality patient care that results in improved health outcomes. Today, there are many opportunities for nursing leaders, whether as a Chief Nurse Practitioner, Chief Nursing Officer, Dean of Nursing, Patient Care Director, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer, or Clinical Nurse Leader.
However, candidates need in-depth knowledge of the nursing field to be considered for a nursing leadership position. They need to be proficient in communicating with staff, thinking critically and creatively, delegating tasks, making decisions, mentoring and teaching, saving problems and being innovative when improving workflows and productivity. All these qualities and skills can be acquired through education. There are several graduate nursing programs, such as Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing (DNP), and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), among others, that can provide the necessary training and knowledge to develop successful nursing leaders. There are many options for interested candidates to enroll in a BSN to DNP program, whether that’s online or in person should they be looking to pursue nursing leadership positions.
These degree programs can help nurses acquire the necessary skills and knowledge and fulfill licensure requirements to practice and become successful in a leadership position in nursing. More knowledge makes you more capable of taking on more responsibilities. Completing these programs can also facilitate nurses in attaining higher positions such as nursing director or clinical nurse leader.
Overall, the field of nursing is filled with numerous opportunities. Moreover, the expected shortage in nursing paves the way for more people to become part of this noble profession and to help improve the face of healthcare and provide better and advanced patient care. Nurses have always been in demand, and with a continuous increase in chronic diseases, pandemics and endemics, technological advancements, an aging population and other similar challenges, this demand is likely to increase.
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