​​​​​​​Effective nurse executives embrace tech, collaboration

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Nurses who want to step into a leadership role must cultivate innovation and be unafraid to try new ideas.

Nurses who want to step into a leadership role should become competent in five areas to better collaborate with peers and push for more innovation.

Bonnie Clipper, R.N., chief clinical officer of Cornerstone Hospital Austin in Texas and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation executive nurse fellow, told Hospitals & Health Networks that all five areas are interconnected; for example, innovation in the current age of healthcare often means embracing technology. Getting out from behind a desk is important, too, as effective nurse leaders should experience all facets of the facility they lead.

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“Nurses have to understand how to lead across the continuum of care, including in both pre- and post-hospitalization roles,” Clipper said. “We are no longer siloed; we’ve been forced to learn how to expand our boundaries.”

The five competencies Clipper notes are the need to:

  • Push for innovation: Nurses, even those who don't serve in leadership roles, must be involved in cultivating innovation. Share ideas, work in and push for new pilot programs, and educate staff and patients on innovation, Clipper suggested.
  • Avoid creating boundaries: Interact on the floor with staff instead of staying in an office. Effective nursing leaders must meet with patients in their rooms and be actively involved in care.
  • Collaborate with others: Innovation requires collaboration, Clipper said. Effective healthcare leaders will increasingly move to a “dyad leadership model,” she said, in which chief medical officers and nurse executives work in tandem.
  • Make technology more accessible, and actually use it: Clipper noted, for instance, that it is increasingly common for nurse executives to carry tablets that allow them to track patient status and complete other tasks while getting out of their offices.
  • Be courageous: Healthcare leaders fear failure, Clipper said, and are often unwilling to try new ideas because they may not work out. Don’t turn down possible pilots or new innovations out of fear, she said.