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How nurses can develop their leadership skills for a better healthcare environment

Leadership skills are crucial for nurses as they play an essential role in ensuring the delivery of high-quality patient care. Effective nursing leadership is vital to creating a positive healthcare environment that enhances the well-being of both patients and colleagues. Leadership skills enable nurses to guide, inspire, and motivate their colleagues and advocate for their patients.

Nurses with strong leadership skills can communicate effectively, collaborate with others, and make informed decisions that positively impact patient care. They can delegate responsibilities and manage resources effectively, which leads to improved patient outcomes and a more efficient healthcare system.

Furthermore, leadership skills among nurses contribute to a positive work environment, reduce the risk of burnout, and promote a culture of growth, development, and continuous improvement. A positive work environment fosters job satisfaction, improves retention rates, and ultimately leads to better patient outcomes.

With the growing complexity of healthcare delivery, nurses who possess strong leadership skills will be better equipped to meet the changing needs of patients, colleagues, and the healthcare system. Many nursing programs have realized the importance of leadership skills. That is why you will find that programs like an accelerated Master’s Entry in Nursing Practice (MENP) from Elmhurst University help you develop leadership skills in nursing and also learn and understand the nuances of optimal patient care. An online MENP is perfect for those who already have a bachelor’s degree and want to join the nursing field. It enables students to become skilled nurses in less than two years and prepares them to take the NCLEX exam. After licensure, these nurses can work as RNs and begin their journey to leadership roles in nursing.

Importance of a positive healthcare environment 

As a nurse, you need to understand the importance of a positive healthcare environment. Such an environment is crucial for the well-being of patients, healthcare providers, and the healthcare system as a whole.

A positive healthcare environment is where patients receive high-quality care, healthcare providers are supported and empowered, and the culture is one of growth, development, and collaboration. For patients, a positive healthcare environment promotes healing and recovery, reduces stress and anxiety, and enhances the overall healthcare experience. A caring and motivated healthcare environment ensures that patients receive respectful, compassionate, and personalized care tailored to their needs. Furthermore, patients are encouraged to be active participants in their care and feel comfortable asking questions and expressing their concerns.

For healthcare providers, a positive healthcare environment is one where they feel supported, valued, and respected. Working in an environment like this, healthcare providers feel empowered and provide high-quality care as they can make informed decisions that positively impact patient outcomes. Healthcare providers who work in a positive healthcare environment are also less likely to experience burnout and more likely to experience job satisfaction, leading to better retention rates and improved patient outcomes.

A brief overview of the different areas of nursing practice

Nursing is a complex and multifaceted profession encompassing many different practice areas. Here is an overview of some of the main areas of nursing practice.

Acute care nursing involves providing care to patients requiring immediate medical attention due to a sudden illness, injury, or worsening of an existing condition. This nursing practice usually occurs in hospital settings, where nurses work collaboratively with other healthcare providers to stabilize patients and manage their symptoms.

A pediatric nurse is a specialist in caring for infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatric nurses work in various settings, including hospitals, pediatric clinics, and schools.

Oncology nursing is the care of cancer patients. This form of nursing practice focuses on patients’ physical, emotional, and psychosocial needs and often involves the administration of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.

Geriatric nursing practice focuses on promoting healthy aging, preventing illness, and managing chronic conditions in the elderly population.

Critical care nursing involves taking care of critically ill or seriously injured patients. Critical care nurses work in various settings, including emergency departments, intensive care units, and trauma centers.

Nursing staff working in these areas have many responsibilities, which may vary based on the area of nursing practice, the healthcare setting, and the patient population. Their general responsibilities are assessing and monitoring patients’ physical, emotional, and mental health status. The work involves checking vital signs, conducting physical exams, reviewing medical histories, and performing diagnostic tests.

They are also required to develop individualized care plans for each patient, taking into consideration the patient’s needs, preferences, and medical history. Care plans may include medication management, wound care, and other interventions to address the patient’s specific health needs.

Nurses are required to administer medications and treatments as ordered by physicians. This includes monitoring patients for adverse reactions and ensuring that medications are given safely and on time.

Documenting patient care in the form of updating medical records is essential. This includes documenting assessments, interventions, and patient responses to treatment.

Keeping patients and families informed is integral to a nurse’s role. Patients need to understand their health conditions, treatments, and self-care strategies. This entails providing information about medications, diet and exercise, and follow-up care.

Nurses are also one of the main healthcare professionals who advocate the rights and needs of their patients. They communicate with physicians and other healthcare providers to ensure patients receive the best care possible. Nurses collaborate with other healthcare providers, including physicians, therapists, and social workers, to ensure patients receive coordinated care that addresses all their needs.

Building leadership skills while navigating different areas of nursing practice 


Mentorship is a vital aspect of nursing practice that can help nurses develop their leadership skills, build confidence, and enhance their career opportunities. Nurses can find mentors or become mentors for junior nurses.

Benefits of being a mentor

Mentoring allows nurses to develop their leadership skills by guiding and supporting other nurses in their career development. The work also helps enhance communication skills that assist in building rapport and trust with the mentee. Mentoring can boost the mentor’s confidence in their own nursing practice as they share their expertise and knowledge with others. Other advantages include expanding their professional network and creating opportunities for collaboration and professional growth.

Patient Advocacy in Nursing

Patient advocacy is an essential aspect of nursing practice. It involves standing up for the rights and interests of patients to ensure that they receive safe, high-quality care that respects their preferences and values. It requires being an active participant in the healthcare team, ensuring that patients are informed about their care options, and advocating for their rights and needs.

Importance of patient advocacy

Patient advocacy empowers patients to make informed decisions about their care, allowing them to participate actively in their treatment plans. It also promotes patient safety by ensuring that patients receive the appropriate care and that their needs and preferences are respected.

This vital work improves patient outcomes by preventing medical errors, reducing healthcare costs, and ensuring patients receive appropriate follow-up care. It also builds trust between the healthcare team and the patient, enhancing the quality of the patient-provider relationship.

Communication Skills in Nursing

Effective communication is critical for nursing leaders to ensure that the healthcare team is cohesively working together and providing high-quality patient care.

Communication in nursing leadership improves outcomes by ensuring that the appropriate care is given while the patient’s needs and preferences are respected. Strong communication skills also build trust between the healthcare team and the patient, enhancing the quality of the patient-provider relationship. Collaboration between healthcare team members is maintained and improved, with everyone working cohesively to provide high-quality care. The team’s efficiency is reflected in reduced errors and delays in care delivery.

Decision-making Skills in Nursing

Effective decision-making is a critical skill for nursing leaders, as they are often responsible for making important decisions that can impact patient care and outcomes. Good decision-making skills can improve patient care and teamwork and increase job satisfaction.

Different decision-making styles

There are several different decision-making styles that nurses may use. They include autocratic, where the nurse makes decisions independently, without input from others. This style can be effective in emergencies or when time is limited, but it may not be the best approach in all situations. There is also a democratic style where others are involved in the decision-making process, and the group works together to devise a solution. This approach can lead to better teamwork and improved morale, but it is time-consuming.

When a nurse takes a hands-off approach and allows others to make decisions, it is known as a laissez-faire decision-making style. This style is best suited when the team is highly skilled and motivated, but it may not be effective in all situations.

A consensus style is when the medical team works together to reach a unanimous decision. It can lead to high-quality decisions but can be time-consuming and impractical in some situations.

Usually, in nursing leadership roles, nurses need to combine different styles to ensure effective decision-making. The style they choose will depend on the situation.

How to improve decision-making skills

Before making a decision, gathering as much information as possible about the situation is necessary. This may involve conducting research, talking to others, or consulting relevant policies and guidelines. Considering the potential consequences of each possible decision is essential, as is assessing the impact on patients, staff, and the overall healthcare environment.

In some situations, involving others in the decision-making process may be beneficial. This can lead to better teamwork, improved morale, and more effective decisions. It is often wise to use a structured approach to decision-making, such as the PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act) model or the Six Sigma approach.

Like any other skill, decision-making can be improved through practice. Look for opportunities to make decisions and reflect on the outcomes. Seek feedback from colleagues, mentors, and supervisors to help you improve.

How nursing leadership can create a positive healthcare environment:

Nursing leadership plays a critical role in creating a positive healthcare environment. By modeling positive behaviors and promoting a culture of respect, trust, and collaboration, nursing leaders can help to create an environment where everyone feels valued and supported.

Some ways that nursing leadership can create a positive healthcare environment include:

  • Fostering open communication: Leadership should encourage open, honest communication among healthcare professionals, patients, and their families. This can help to build trust and foster a sense of teamwork.
  • Leading by example: Nursing leaders should model positive behaviors, such as empathy, respect, and integrity. Leading by example can set the tone for the entire healthcare team.
  • Promoting a culture of patient-centered care: Nurses in leadership roles should emphasize the importance of patient-centered care and encourage all healthcare professionals to prioritize the needs and preferences of patients.
  • Encouraging professional development: Nursing leaders should encourage ongoing professional development for all healthcare professionals. It can help improve job satisfaction, reduce burnout, and promote a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
  • Supporting a healthy work-life balance: It is essential to maintain a work-life balance so that it reduces stress, burnout, and anxiety. Nursing leaders can take steps to promote it among their teams. This can include flexible scheduling, paid time off, and other benefits that support the well-being of healthcare professionals.

Undoubtedly, nursing leadership plays a critical role in creating a positive healthcare environment for patients and healthcare professionals. Nursing leaders are responsible for setting the tone, promoting a culture of respect, and prioritizing patient-centered care. These leaders can help to create a supportive and positive environment for everyone involved in the healthcare system.

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