Nurse leaders are a crucial part of healthcare. They do more than train new nurses and monitor productivity – the quality of their leadership has a direct impact on patient outcomes. Whether you plan to become a nurse leader in the future or just a regular nurse in a ward, it is important to know what a nurse leader does and how it impacts patients.
The American Organization for Nursing Leadership has more than 11,000 members and the numbers are growing. It is a sign that more and more healthcare facilities recognize the nurse leader’s role not only in leading nursing staff, but also in designing patient care programs and ensuring that they are carried out accordingly.
For any nursing professional who wants to become a leader, it is important to know about the role, what makes a good nurse leader, and how these professionals can influence patient outcomes.
What Is A Nurse Leader?
All healthcare facilities have nurses, and these professionals need someone highly experienced, educated and skilled to help them get the right training, be organized, and deliver the right care to their patients. This person is the nurse leader.
Nurse leadership positions have risen to prominence in the last few decades, and many of these professionals are now considered part of senior management wherever they work. They are present when all key decisions are made, and are involved in planning, budgeting and the allocation of resources.
Nurse leaders are also involved in formulating policy, and they play a critical role in helping the rest of management understand the state of nursing in their facility.
What Makes A Good Nurse Leader?
There are certain qualities of a nurse leader that help them excel in their roles. Walsh University offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree that equips students with hands-on experience and practical knowledge on how to be a good leader. Good nurse leaders are keen learners who are always looking for better and more efficient ways to do things. They are motivators and mentors, and they are also good listeners.
Successful nurse managers understand time management well, and they plan their days carefully so that they can do all that is required of them.
They also have a lot of stamina, and they keep going even when they are under a lot of strain. As such, they must learn how to take care of their mental and physical health so that they can meet the demands of their role.
What Are The Typical Roles Of A Nurse Leader?
The roles of a nurse leader may change from one institution to another, but there are certain things that all these professionals are expected to do.
They are in charge of coordinating patient care from the beginning to the end, and they focus on individual care as well as overall care within the facility. A nurse leader will look at all the care plans for patients under their purview, and they will also look at how junior nurses deliver care and treatment to patients in general.
Nurse leaders are required to measure patient outcomes, and how they do this depends on where they work and what stipulations have been laid out to find out whether or not patients are happy with the care they receive. Some nurse leaders go around and talk to patients about the care they have received; others hand out short questionnaires; and some use both these methods to collect information from those under their care.
Nurse leaders oversee patient transitions. In many cases, patients are discharged from hospitals before they are fully healed and continue to recuperate at home. The nurse leader ensures that these patients have a carer and that they are aware of what they should do to continue healing. They often talk to families about how they should take care of their loved ones, and when they hand patients over to professional nurses, they give them all the necessary documentation so that the home nurse has a comprehensive background of their patient.
They are tasked with training other nurses on accepted practice, and state and federal law on patient treatment and compliance. A good nurse leader keeps up with industry developments so that they can train the nurses they supervise on new and better ways of caring for patients.
They also implement new policies within their facility. These can be simple policies, such as how patients are booked and triaged, or more complex policies on budgeting and fundraising.
Building patient care teams is another role of the nurse leader. They work with other healthcare professionals to make sure that within each team there is a nurse with the requisite skills to care for the patient. They follow up to ensure that the nurse they appointed is doing their job properly.
They encourage coordination, cohesion and cooperation between nurses. The nurse leader gets their nurses together once or twice a week so that they can discuss the issues they are facing and how they coordinate patient care.
Nurse leaders are often mentors of other younger, less experienced nurses, and they provide advice and educate new nurses as needed.
How Does All This Impact Patient Outcomes?
A good nurse leader will get good patient outcomes because they implement policies that work within their departments. Below are some of the ways that patients benefit from having a strong leader to guide nursing teams.
Nursing Teams Are Highly Motivated
Nurses are a critical part of the care system because they are the ones who spend the most time with the patient.
If they have a good leader who can rally them, they remain highly motivated, and that motivation translates into better patient care. They are willing to go above and beyond what is required of them to deliver the best care and treatment possible.
There Is Greater Patient Satisfaction
Every nurse knows what they ought to do for their patient, and when they encounter problems that they cannot solve, they turn to their leader for advice.
As a result, patient feedback tends to be more positive than negative, and because they feel cared for, patients tend to recover more quickly. The feedback from such patients is positive, which motivates nurses to work even harder.
Good nurse leaders tend to record lower mortality rates
Good nurse leaders generally record lower mortality rates. This can be attributed to any number of factors, including better patient care and better compliance with state rules and regulations.
They teach their nurses to seek the best solutions for their patients, to work well within teams, and to listen to patients and get their opinions on the care they receive.
The Best Nurse Leaders Build Lasting Teams
One of the biggest problems in nursing is the high turnover of trained professionals. If a hospital cannot convince its nurses to stay, then there are interruptions in patient care and higher costs because it has to continually train new nurses.
A good nurse leader understands the value of retaining staff, and they champion those they represent in management. It helps provide continuity in patient care, and it also keeps training costs at a minimum.
Nurse Leaders Ensure Compliance
When patients aren’t happy with the care they have received from nurses, they complain, and they can even go as far as initiating lawsuits.
A nurse leader is there to make sure that everyone in their team is compliant not only with hospital policy, but also with state law around patient care.
They continually train their nurses to keep them updated about new developments and changes within the industry, and they monitor to ensure that all carers stick to the regulations.
They Manage Adverse Events Well
Adverse events are not uncommon in hospitals. They can range from a patient receiving the wrong medication to unexpected deaths. Nurse leaders are there to pick up the pieces and ensure that each of these events is managed well for the benefit of all who are involved.
A good nurse leader is also approachable, and when junior nurses make a mistake, they can go to them for advice. This helps to mitigate situations that have the potential to cause serious problems in patient care.
Nurse Leaders Ensure Proper Utilization Of Resources For Better Patient Care
One of the toughest things to do within healthcare facilities is allocate resources properly, and it often leads to financial strain and misallocation of vital equipment and medicines.
A good nurse leader knows exactly what resources are available, and they make comprehensive plans about how those resources can be used to improve patient care.
Where certain equipment, medications and even professionals are lacking, the nurse leader comes up with ways to make them available. They ensure that management allocates enough money to buy whatever is needed for better patient care and improved outcomes.
Nurse leadership is a demanding but rewarding role, and those who have the right training and are dedicated to their career do well. They help improve patient outcomes, and they provide support to everyone they supervise.