With more workers reaching retirement age, the demand for leaders in the healthcare field has never been higher. Not only that, but more people are also seeking medical care due to aging and improved access to comprehensive healthcare coverage.
When hospitals and other medical facilities have trouble meeting staffing needs, patient outcomes can suffer. Having good leadership can lessen the impact of the current healthcare crisis. Now is a great time for those that are suited for leadership roles to take the next step on their career path.
Nurse leaders increase workplace morale
The healthcare environment needs experienced leaders to help maintain and improve workplace morale. Healthcare facilities are often stressful due to inadequate staffing numbers to meet the huge demand for healthcare brought on by large populations of aging adults. Leaders are necessary to help encourage staff and keep them organized and focused on the job at hand.
Loss of morale within the workplace can negatively impact the quality of care at a facility. In addition, this can lead staff looking for positions at other locations, leading to further staffing issues.
Experienced nurses can act as mentors to new nurses
Having nurses on staff that inexperienced nurses can look to for guidance, advice, and support during orientation and training periods prevents staff from feeling overwhelmed.
Mentors provide a supportive environment that encourages staff to stay and not look for employment elsewhere. This is critical during a time of historic shortages of healthcare professionals.
Strong leadership contributes to positive patient outcomes
If staff are happy in the workplace and can do their jobs efficiently, this contributes to faster patient recovery times and better satisfaction within a medical facility. In addition, a well-organized medical facility can handle high volumes of patients, even if there are occasional staffing issues.
Furthermore, better organization and workplace morale leads to fewer mistakes. While some mistakes at a medical facility may lead to a slight delay in treatment that ultimately has little to no impact on a patient’s long-term health and well-being, there are times when even minor errors can have major consequences that are hard or impossible to correct.
Patients tend to have a more positive outlook and demeanor when they feel like staff are doing their job well and providing the highest level of patient care. Unfortunately, poor patient morale contributes to slower healing times and, thus, more time spent at medical facilities. This cycle can ultimately result in fewer patients being treated over time. This cycle can be broken, but like any improvement, prevention is more preferable.
Nurse leaders encourage a good work-life balance
Great leadership can help create a positive work environment that leads to a better work-life balance. Sometimes the small things within a workplace can lead to big results. Encouraging staff to exercise regularly and eat healthily are just two examples. Making suggestions to administration, like including gym memberships for staff members or making sure vending machines are stocked with healthy options, are just two ways that leaders can take a stand toward improving employee morale and health.
Noticing when employees are particularly stressed and offering increased support are important. Nurse leaders can direct staff that are not as busy to help in areas experiencing increased demand.
Communication within a facility is improved
Poor communication is a major problem within any workplace. Communication in healthcare can make a huge difference in staff satisfaction and the quality of care, while a lack of communication results in delayed care, frustration, animosity, and mistakes.
Staff must realize that more communication is a positive thing. All staff members involved with a patient’s care must always have access to up-to-date info. Nurse leaders must make it a priority to improve communications wherever possible.
It is also very important that patients feel comfortable expressing concerns and asking questions. Good empathy skills and bedside manner are essential to being a good healthcare worker. Over time, successful healthcare professionals improve their communication skills through experience.
Feedback and constructive criticism
Feedback and constructive criticism in the workplace are critical to maintaining patient satisfaction and quality of care. To maintain workplace morale, it is important to highlight areas where improvements are needed while also complimenting staff on actions that are commendable. Anytime there is criticism, a solution should be provided. These solutions need to be realistic and within reach of staff. Asking healthcare staff to make improvements without giving them the tools and support they need to achieve these goals leads to a sense of failure and resentment within the facility.
On the other hand, a system must be in place for staff to offer the same level of constructive criticism to administrators. Pointing out problems should not lead to animosity. The goal of a good feedback system is to stop problems before they escalate. Anonymous feedback is a great choice so that employees feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of repercussions.
Better leadership reduces healthcare costs
More patients receiving treatment with fewer mistakes significantly reduces the cost of healthcare. In addition, if patients have good morale and recover faster, meaning fewer days are spent utilizing a hospital room or recovery center.
Better patient care reduces the need for more expensive treatments, including intensive care units. In addition, an improved organization that allows fewer healthcare staff to do more without burnout leads to even more savings.
Increase in patients seeking preventative care
With more people than ever eligible for affordable health insurance, it is important for leaders to stress the importance of scheduling preventative care. Prevention not only reduces healthcare costs, it improves the lives of patients. In addition, there are many illnesses that, while serious, can be treated relatively easily if caught soon enough.
Extra effort may be needed to reach out to patients that are hesitant to seek regular care. There are many reasons why someone may be fearful of regular medical care. A bad experience at another facility can have a major impact on how likely an entire family is to schedule regular checkups.
Nurse leaders can encourage cultural awareness
Some communities are becoming increasingly diverse. With increased diversity, there is more potential for unintentional tension and conflict if efforts are not made to increase cultural awareness at healthcare facilities. Having staff on hand that speak the most common languages in an area is a good start. For example, Spanish as a second language in North America is more common among those training or going to school for any healthcare-related job.
Being aware of common cultural norms and religious guidelines pertaining to medical care is also very important. For example, dietary restrictions among some religions are common, with many hospitals offering a variety of menus that are approved for specific religions.
Adequate leadership equals more efficient conflict resolution
No matter how well-run a facility may be, there will be times when conflicts arise. The goal of leadership should be to resolve conflicts early to avoid large-scale problems. While it is essential to establish general guidelines for resolving conflicts, leaders need to think outside the box when unique conflicts arise. Good leaders should always look at both sides of an issue so a problem can be fully addressed while treating everyone involved with respect.
Nurse leaders need to learn to be excellent conflict managers under stressful conditions. In addition, great empathy and communication skills are required to excel at conflict resolution.
Nurse leaders should stay up to date
With more advanced treatments being developed every day, leaders must make an effort to learn about treatments and trends that may be helpful when it comes to improving patient care.
Keeping up with medical journals, as well as training and credentials that could potentially improve the medical facilities they are in charge of, is something all nursing leaders should strive for.
Nursing leaders may consider teaching
With such high demand for healthcare professionals, it is no surprise that there is great demand for nursing teachers as well. Nurses with experience and advanced degrees should consider teaching classes and seminars at the university level or at least teaching seminars to nurses and other medical professionals that are seeking specific certificates and credentials.
Demand for highly experienced nursing leaders will only grow
Now is a great time for those wanting to advance their healthcare career. The chronic shortage of healthcare professionals during COVID-19 was a major wake-up call for healthcare facilities because they realized just how serious their staffing issues were during the pandemic.
Such a large aging population and an increase in younger people experiencing health difficulties create conditions that demand more people consider healthcare careers. In return, this offers opportunities for fast advancement and attractive compensation packages.
Advanced degrees are more flexible than ever
The information age is a fantastic thing when it comes to education. As long as you can get a decent internet connection, you can earn a degree online without having to commit to a strict schedule. This means mid-career and senior-level nurses can earn advanced degrees online while maintaining their current job. Many are choosing to earn a degree that qualifies them to be a nurse practitioner.
You may be wondering what does a nurse practitioner do that makes them stand out from other nurses? Carson Newman University offers an excellent guide and online degree program for those interested in pursuing a career as a family nurse practitioner. You can earn your degree in as little as 32 months. In your new career, you will perform many of the same roles as a family doctor.
Should you strive to be a nursing leader?
If you have any of the following characteristics, you might want to consider a career as a leader in healthcare.
A love for helping others heal and achieve goals
Healthcare leaders help others every day. This leads to a great sense of achievement and personal satisfaction. As a leader, you will be helping patients heal faster and attain a higher quality of life. If you enjoy mentoring others and helping them meet professional goals, then a leadership role makes a lot of sense.
You enjoy working with people from diverse backgrounds
A leadership role is best suited to someone that considers themselves a “people person.” If you have a gift for making people feel better, engaging them, and listening to their concerns, you might have what it takes to be a good leader under stressful conditions.
In the modern world, you must be good at interacting with people from many different backgrounds and economic situations. As a leader, the ability to engage and empathize with others means everything.
You work in healthcare and want a career upgrade
With experience comes more opportunity for growth and career advancement. If you have years of experience in healthcare and want to advance, then a leadership position is a natural progression.
Some employers may even be interested in helping you find ways to pay for advanced degrees and other training opportunities, so that you can help improve the facility.
You welcome and enjoy challenges
Healthcare is, without a doubt, a very challenging field. But, if you love meeting challenges head-on and strategizing to overcome them, you have found the right career path. Leaders are responsible for taking on their own challenges while helping an entire team find ways to overcome their own. Strong organizational skills are important to hone since some challenges can require a long-term strategy if they are to be overcome.
Working in a team environment comes naturally
Unfortunately, some people do not work well in a team environment. However, if you thrive working with others and can keep your cool when some team members are challenging to work with, then you are a perfect candidate for a leadership role.
Teamwork allows the healthcare system to effectively treat many patients and provide as high a level of care as possible. When problems in the workplace lead to conflict, patient outcomes suffer. If you are good at helping others find common ground and work well together, then you will be a major asset to any healthcare facility.
Being open to new ideas
Being too stuck in your ways is not good for a leader. Healthcare is a field where new ideas should be welcome and highly considered. New innovations are happening every day.
You never tire of learning
Nursing leaders are always learning new things. Despite what some might think, gaining a leadership role doesn’t mean you get to sit back in a comfy office and work off the knowledge you already have. Nursing leaders may be asked to speak at conferences, take additional classes and seminars, and more.
In healthcare, there is always something to learn. Leaders will find that even workers with less experience may have many things that they can teach them. Learning opportunities are virtually everywhere.
Nurse leaders are critical to good patient outcomes and maintain a high standard of patient care at clinics, hospitals, care centers, and more. Experienced nurses should consider taking on leadership roles to advance their careers and ensure that other healthcare workers have the mentorship and support they need throughout their careers as well.
An advanced degree is a good option for those who want to improve their leadership skills and earning potential in healthcare.
If healthcare facilities want to maintain or improve patient outcomes and quality of care, they must encourage experienced nurses to step into leadership roles and share their wealth of knowledge and experience more than ever.
Great teamwork starts with good leadership, and teamwork is what makes it possible to treat patients efficiently and compassionately. In addition, increased diversity in communities means working together to create a healthcare system that is comfortable and welcoming to all.