Nurses are by far one of the most undervalued members of our society today. The number of tasks that they must manage from day to day to better assist physicians and look after the patients in their care is something that most other people might struggle to handle. Furthermore, the knowledge and education that they must possess to adequately perform those tasks take years to acquire.
Unfortunately, these modern-day superheroes rarely get the credit they deserve. At times it can seem that there is a disconnect between the demands of those higher up in the hierarchy of the medical community and those working on the frontlines of healthcare. One method that the nursing community is looking to correct this is by encouraging more nurses to rise to higher levels of leadership.
Leadership roles in nursing are becoming increasingly significant because those who fill such positions have the opportunity to communicate better with those who make the bigger-picture decisions in the world of healthcare. Nurses bring experience from the frontlines to such discussions so that more informed and practical decisions can be made.
If you are currently working as a nurse and are looking for ways in which you can climb the ladder and reach levels of leadership to help contribute to the more significant decisions being made in healthcare, there are a few things that you can do. With the right education, experience, and connections, you can bring your voice to the table and help to bring in positive change at the highest levels.
One of the first things that you need to consider when you are contemplating the road to advancing as a leader in the world of nursing is your education. Even though you might have a number of years under your belt as a qualified and practicing nurse, there are other requirements in regard to your education that need to be met to start on the path to becoming a leader in your field.
If the idea of going back to school while continuing to work as a nurse is intimidating to you, this is completely understandable. Your job is demanding enough without any extra pressure. The fact remains that there is a growing need for nurses in leadership roles and that an advanced degree is the first step that must be taken in pursuit of such roles. Thankfully, there are plenty of online degree options available for nurses looking to continue working while earning the necessary degrees.
The type of degree you will want to look into would be a Doctor of Nursing Practice. This degree, also known as a DNP, will equip you with such skills as are required by leaders to possess. Such programs are available to nurses who already have either a BSN or an MSN. There are several different tracks you can take with a DNP such as neonatal nursing or executive leadership. The track you choose will depend on the area of nursing that you specialize in and that you would like to become more of a leader in.
As in practically every industry, it is incredibly difficult to rise in the ranks if you do not possess the right connections. While far from being solely about “who you know”, there is a great significance placed on having the right connections. Not only will you need to have a network of healthcare professionals serving in the similar roles as yours to better understand the needs and challenges of those on the frontlines, but having connections with those in higher positions will help you to better understand what is required of leaders in the medical world.
There are different ways in which nurses can build their professional networks and make connections with other healthcare professional. You should certainly consider joining any professional networking organizations that pertain to your specialization. For instance, if you are practicing as a neonatal nurse, then the National Association of Neonatal Nurses is an organization that you should definitely become a part of.
There is a professional organization out there for every type of specialty. Some are specific to nursing, while others are for healthcare professionals of all types. Some more general organizations are beneficial for nurses working in any specialty. All of the connections that you can build through such networks as these will only serve to better equip you with the knowledge that you need to become a productive leader in the world of nursing.
Develop Personal Leadership Skills
While obtaining the right education and building the right professional relationships are two essential steps on your road to becoming a leader in nursing, it is a good idea to keep in mind that there are certain leadership qualities and characteristics that you will also need to develop in yourself. Only you will know exactly what areas you need to improve upon, so start with some self-reflection. Think about what your goals as a leader are and what skills you will need to achieve them.
Some of the more common attributes belonging to most leaders include excellent organizational skills, confidence in the workplace, and, most importantly, the ability to communicate well with everyone. While there are many other skills that you will want to work on as you grow in your leadership role, this is an excellent place to start.
To be an effective leader, practical communication skills are critical. Not only do you need to be able to communicate with your peers, a practice that you are probably already familiar with as a nurse, but you will also need to learn how to pass the information along to those working under you. This can be a tricky thing for nurses to accomplish as often doctors are seen as the ultimate leaders in a healthcare setting. Nevertheless, nurses can and should be given leadership roles, and when they are, they need to be able to communicate with those who look to them for instruction.