How hospitals can reduce barriers to nurse leadership

Despite the positive impact nurse leaders have on outcomes, they remain underrepresented in hospital leadership, according to Becker's Hospital Review.

Although an Institute of Medicine 2010 Future of Nursing report found that healthcare is evolving toward nurse-led models, a survey of 1,000 hospital boards published in the Journal of Healthcare Management found only 6 percent of members were nurses, Nancy J. Robert, Ph.D., executive vice president and chief product and marketing officer for the American Nurses Association, told the publication.

The major obstacle to nurse leadership, Robert said, is a long-held perception that nurses are not as important as physician decision-makers. Moreover, she said, leadership training for nurses is both uncommon and inconsistent.

Nurses are often promoted to entry-level management positions due to experience and the quality of their work, but many of them have little leadership development, Christy Davidson, interim dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Capella University, told Becker's. She said the healthcare industry must create more of an environment of continual leadership grooming to resolve these issues.

Hospitals that have strong nurse leaders provide opportunities for nurses to have ownership of projects and keep them in the loop on major governance decisions, according to Davidson. Empowered nurses also work effectively across departments. 

Nurses' perceptions that they are not heard or able to positively influence care are a recurring cause of nurse burnout, added Robert.

Patients can tell the difference when hospitals empower nurses, Davidson told Becker's. "Patients, very quickly into their stay, are keen observers of behavior. They can tell when the nurses are happy. You can tell when staff is cared for and secure in what they are able to do," she said.

To learn more:
- read the interview

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