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Become a Better Leader in Nursing

Nurses account for the lion's share of patient interactions. They are the front-line of medicine and have a wide range of responsibilities. Being a leader in nursing requires going that extra mile to advocate for patients, taking the initiative to pursue higher education, and function well in a team of diverse people.

"There is confusion between leadership and management," writes Susan Hodgetts for "The most distinctive separation comes from a good friend of mine, Ken Jarrold, who stated that leadership is doing the right thing while management is doing things right." Nursing leaders must be able to follow protocols while also managing their patients to the highest ethical standards.

Optimization Through Optimism

Nurses often must deal with people at their worst, during bouts of physical pain or while enduring the trials of a tough diagnosis. When asked about qualities in a good nursing leader, Jeanine Frumenti, DNP, MPA, RN, CLNC, told, "They're always looking at what's good for the organization, what's good for their patients, their staff, their team." Embracing this kind of optimism can help set the right tone for a nursing team to have the most positive effect on patient outcomes.

On her blog, Donna Cardillo, RN and keynote speaker, writes, "Effective leaders have high regard for others, see the best in those around them, and have a way of making others feel good about themselves." Being a nursing leader is not limited to heading up a team of nurses; it is also important to lead patients, as well. Trailblazing nursing leaders know how to use optimism to the benefit of both their team as well as to the patients in their care.

Finding Role Models

On Cardillo's list of ways to improve one's leadership skills, finding "role models and mentors" is at the top. Having other nurses and medical professionals that you look up to is integral to building your own leadership style and furthering your education. "When you encounter people whose leadership style you admire," writes Cardillo, "take some time to observe how they deal with others."

Wherever you are in your career, it is key to have a set of mentors and role models who provide you with a schematic for your future as a nursing leader. Ask yourself what traits these individuals have that make them such effective leaders, and apply those methods to your own sphere of influence.

A Culture of Healthy Leadership

When asked about what a healthy leadership culture looks like, Frumenti answered "in a healthy environment, leaders don't just talk the talk, but they also walk the walk. They don't say they have good communication, but then speak to others rudely, for instance." Along with evaluating the nursing leaders you look up to, it is important to reflect inwardly on what kind of work environment you help create for those around you.

Strengthening your skills as a nursing leader is also deeply rooted in education and a willingness to learn throughout your career. Progressing from an ADN RN to an RN with BSN is one of the more concrete ways to take control of your future as a nursing leader.

Learn more about the Northern Kentucky University online RN to BSN program.

Sources: What Makes a Good Nurse Leader?

American Nurse Today: 9 Principles of Successful Nursing Leadership

NursingTimes: From the Top: A Guide to Being an Effective Nurse Leader

Donna Cardillo - The Inspiration Nurse: The Making of a Leader

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