Leadership key to post-acute care nurse residents

Nurse residency programs need strong nursing leadership to succeed.

For a post-acute care nurse residency program to take off, effective nurse leaders must take charge.

When the New Jersey Action Coalition launched its nurse residency program, it became clear that without a strong nursing leader at the front of the program, it lost a key advocate and a major pillar of participant support, Katherine Kuren Black, R.N., clinical assistant professor at Rutgers School of Nursing, who also works in the program, writes in a column for MedPage Today.

Strong leadership provides residency teachers with emotional support in what can be a taxing position, and can promote a work environment that retains nurses. Feedback from nurses who participated in the program suggests that post-acute care settings “are ripe for organizational culture change through imaginative and innovative leadership.”

RELATED: 4 steps hospitals must take to address the nursing shortage

The coalition also recommends that healthcare organizations looking to put a post-acute care nurse residency in place keep several other strategies in mind, including:

  • Know the costs for vacant positions to highlight the program’s return on investment
  • Be selective with participating instructors, as even the most talented nurses need to work on teaching and leadership skills to succeed
  • Stay actively involved as a leader and check in regularly with both instructors and participants

RELATED: Nurse leadership's role in reducing burnout

Investing in nurse leadership is beneficial for hospitals and will find the ROI in improved outcomes for patients and resource use. Having more nurses involved in leadership can reduce blind spots on the executive team and focus initiatives with a more balanced perspective.

Nursing leaders need to be visible to staff and actively participating in day-to-day activities. Offer them autonomy and encourage nurses at all levels to step up to the leadership plate. Make sure they’re confident using new technologies and have strong communication skills.