What Is the Value of Nurse Leadership?

The current healthcare system has changed dramatically in only a few years. According to The Future of Nursing report, compiled by the Institute of Medicine (which changed its name to National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in 2015), earlier healthcare systems main objectives were to treat patients with acute illnesses, but the current system focuses more on patients with chronic disorders.

The report says that 20th-century nursing education no longer meets the needs of today’s healthcare system. For the system to work effectively, nurses must take on new roles that emphasize collaboration and leadership. A Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree can help prepare working nurses for these new roles.

The New Century Introduced New Healthcare System Challenges

Many factors have contributed to the dramatic healthcare system transformation. The IOM report notes that rising levels of obesity have helped propel an increase in chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular disease. In addition, America’s population is aging: Americans 65 and older will comprise 20 percent of the nation’s population by 2030.

There is also greater demand for quality healthcare driven, in part, by the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. According to a recent U.S. Department of Health & Human Services press release, 20 million Americans gained health coverage between 2010 and 2016. These changes are occurring as the nursing shortage continues — a phenomenon the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) says is expected to worsen.

The Value of Nurse Leadership

According to the IOM report, nurse leadership is pivotal in successfully redesigning the American healthcare system, making it more accessible, cost-effective, safe and efficient. Nurses must become full partners, collaborating with physicians and other healthcare professionals. They must assume new and more complex responsibilities, including identifying problems, designing improvement plans and helping shape policy. Instead of working as observers and followers, nurses are now active participants in the redesign of our nation’s healthcare system.

The American Nurses Association Leadership Institute concurs with this analysis. They say that failure to fully utilize nurses’ leadership skills will limit the healthcare system’s ability to adapt.

How Nurses Can Begin Preparing for Leadership Roles?

While many advanced nursing roles, such as nurse researcher, policy adviser and nurse information specialist, require graduate degrees in nursing, nurses who have earned their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can also contribute to healthcare system change. According to Discover Nursing, BSN programs groom nurses to take on such responsibilities as creating nursing care treatment plans, educating patients, assisting doctors and supervising other nurses.

RN to BSN programs can serve as gateways to nursing leadership roles or prepare students for graduate school. The online RN to BSN program offered by Louisiana State University of Alexandria incorporates professional nursing development coursework with a liberal arts education.

For instance, LSUA’s Leadership and Management course, NURS 4050, teaches students the principles and theories of nursing leadership and care. The Leadership and Management Clinical Practicum course, NURS 4051, expands upon this knowledge, providing students with opportunities to apply those principles and theories in various clinical settings.

The program’s liberal arts courses strengthen essential communication and critical thinking skills. For example, the Cultural Diversity course, PSYC 3001, can help nurses learn to become more sensitive to different patient populations.

The 21st century has introduced a new model of healthcare, one in which nurses have become change agents and leaders. An emphasis on collaboration and nurse leadership will be pivotal in navigating the new challenges and expanding the healthcare system. An RN to BSN program can help prepare nurses for further education and expanded leadership roles.

Learn more about the LSUA online RN to BSN program.


Retrieved from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (n.d.). http://nationalacademies.org/

Retrieved from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). http://www.hhs.gov/

Retrieved from American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (n.d.) http://www.aacn.nche.edu/

Retrieved from ANA Enterprise (n.d.). ANA Leadership Institute. http://learn.ana-nursingknowledge.org/catalog?pagename=ANA-Leadership-Institute

Retrieved from Johnson & Johnson. (n.d.). Discover Nursing. http://www.discovernursing.com/

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