Ten reasons why nurse leaders are important in healthcare

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Nurses have been underrepresented in leadership roles for a long time because doctors and healthcare administrators view them as mere "supporters." That's changing, however, as new evidence indicates that implementing nursing leadership impacts patient safety, quality of care and results in better patient outcomes.

According to recent studies, nursing leaders can positively impact patient survival. Their active role resonates with shorter lengths of stay and fewer medication errors, falls, and UTIs. Thus, nurses are now playing an active role in improving the healthcare system, necessitating their leadership in the field.

Leadership in Nursing:

Nurse leaders play an integral role in a profession that is rapidly shifting and growing. Hence, their leadership styles vary with the changing atmosphere. They are:  

  • Transformative: In transformative leadership, a leader adopts a collaborative leadership style with encouragement, inspiration, and a shared vision to drive change. 
  • Democratic: Also known as participative leadership, democratic leadership involves everyone in decision-making. The leadership style aims at collaborating with the staff to manage and improve the policies and strategies.
  • Laissez-faire: In Laissez-faire, a leader does not take an active role in decision-making, rather facilitates it. They are also responsible for developing solutions without getting directly involved.
  • Autocratic: Autocratic is the traditional “boss” leadership style where you solely make the decisions and lead your subordinates by rules and orders.
  • Servant: Servant leadership involves a supportive style in which the leader facilitates subordinates with skills, tools, and relationships to perform at their best.

The style you choose depends on several factors such as your personality, job description, responsibilities etc. However, you need to remember that a nurse leader requires skills that can only be acquired from experience and adequate qualifications, such as a nursing administration master’s degree.

Importance of Nurse Leaders in Healthcare:

Considering the role and leadership styles of nurse leaders, the following are the top 10 reasons why they are important for a successful healthcare setup:

  •         An atmosphere of safety

Nurse leaders are responsible for creating an atmosphere of safety. They guide their team members to provide harm-free care and handle the complexities of different scenarios. Nurse leaders also revise systems dynamics required to improve patient safety, handling, and outcomes by intra-professional collaboration and teamwork.

  •         Increased Reliability

Nurse leaders are instrumental in both the quality and protection of high-reliability environments. They constantly strive to understand, acquire, develop and practice the skills they need to provide better patient care as part of their job. Therefore, they continuously contribute to the advancement of quality and processes, thus increasing the reliability of their organizations.

  •         Quality Healthcare

The role of nurses has changed over the past few years. They are now responsible for coordinating care from multiple providers, handling caseloads of patients who need intensive care, and helping patients when they leave a hospital. Therefore, nurse leaders now act as health coaches, supporting patients throughout their hospital stay.

  •         Increased Patient’s Satisfaction

Nurses play a vital role in healthcare regarding patients’ satisfaction. They are great at communicating effectively and empathically with patients. Nurses spend the most time with patients, and as a result, help educate patients, alleviate concerns, and make patients feel at ease. Consequently, they are often instrumental in improving overall patient satisfaction and are often the first to ask, “How can we improve patient experience?”

  •         Improved Policies and Strategies

Nurses play a significant role in improving healthcare policies. Nursing has long been one of the most trusted professions in medicine. Not only do their voices carry weight, but they are ethical, honest, and patient.

Nurse leaders can provide unbiased and informed perspectives in community meetings or by assisting people in interpreting clinical information. They can be of great importance when strategy making or revising because of their close relationships with patients.

  •         Positive Patient’s Outcome

Several studies show that nurse leaders can improve patients’ outcomes. As they are the ones who stay with patients for the longest, they play an active role in recovery.

Nurse leaders teach their staff methods to manage medical conditions with the help of prior knowledge and experience. It also includes guiding the risk of injuries, complications, errors, and fatalities.

  •         Increased Staff Morale

Nurses form a major section of healthcare staff, and keeping their morale high is essential for a positive hospital culture. The improvement of nurse satisfaction contributes to higher retention rates, better patient satisfaction, and better quality of care.

Nurse leaders can increase staff morale in several ways. First, they can groom some staff nurses into charge nurse roles, involve them in decision-making, and connect through casual meetings. They can adopt a laissez-faire leadership style, facilitating their team members through guidance and problem-solving.

  •         Reduced Staff Burnout

Burnouts are quite common among healthcare staff. As the major communicator between patients and doctors, nurses can identify and combat exhaustion by adopting the right leadership style.

Nurse leaders can easily spot the signs of exhaustion, such as working fewer hours, withdrawing from relationships, and becoming frustrated with small inconveniences. Thus, they use different strategies to reduce staff burnouts. They address increasing stress levels among staff and implement support sessions and programs. They also allocate flexible shifts and hire other staff for non-clinical duties like creating and maintaining records.

  •         Culture of Innovation

Leaders can endorse productive interaction by fostering creativity and catalysts for the innovation process. For example, during delivering patient care and improving workflow, nurses have a wealth of information to share with their colleagues.  To develop solutions that solve real-world problems, nurse leaders encourage their staff to share their knowledge and patient care stories to create solutions. For any new technology affecting patient care, involving nurse leaders early in the development process is vital to success.

  •         Achieving Financial Goals

Nurse leaders must have good financial knowledge in addition to clinical skills.

Nurse leaders make important decisions to achieve financial goals. For example, they guide their group members to reduce wastage of materials such as syringes, saline, and medicine. Additionally, nurse leaders influence the staff to create and maintain inventory data to allocate the budgets smartly.

Bottom Line:

Nurse leaders play a crucial role in improving the healthcare system. For example, they can handle several patients with divergent needs and demands. Due to their empathetic work and two-way coordination, nurse leaders can create a positive environment in the hospital setup, evident by increased patients outcome and experience.