Hospitals must train millennial nurse leaders in empathy, frontline engagement

A new generation of nurses is on the rise within the healthcare field, even as older generations continue to put off retirement, and hospital executives must understand a few key principles to successfully teach younger nurses to be the next wave of leaders in the field, according to Becker's Infection Control & Clinical Quality.

While the basic requirements of quality healthcare leadership and engagement don't change, healthcare leaders must consider the different ways millennial leaders learn and process information, according to the article. Effective nurse leaders need several traits, according to the article, including:

  • Empathy and compassion, as well as an ability to model those qualities
  • Visibility and accessibility
  • An understanding of the complexity of frontline nurses' jobs
  • Ability and availability to provide emotional and material support

One of the major hurdles for teaching millennial leaders these skills is the common misconception that empathy is an inherent trait that can't be taught, according to Christy Dempsey, chief nursing officer at Press Ganey. "Empathy is a cognitive attribute; it's not emotional," she told the publication. "You have to be able to understand what someone is going through and then communicate the understanding back to them. It's really becoming a lost art."

Leaders can instill this key characteristic in nurses through strategies such as role-playing, according to the article. "Modeling behavior" in the work environment is also vital, Dempsey said, as leadership skills or lack thereof trickle down to frontline staff. 

To learn more:
- here's the article