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How Nurse Executives are Evolving to Keep Pace with Healthcare

  • Article by:Health Career Center

Healthcare transformation requires in-depth knowledge of how hospitals work at all levels. And as anyone who regularly visits knows, nurses know how hospitals work.

For this reason, a growing number of hospital leadership teams are giving nurse executives a seat at the table as they debate high-level strategic decisions. Their goal? To use nurse executives’ real world insights to find smarter, more efficient methods that can help their organizations manage population health and keep up with the field’s rapid changes.

Of course, this progress comes with its own set of challenges. For one, it requires teaching nurses, whose countless responsibilities often limit their focus to day-to-day tasks, to spend valuable time honing skills that will pay off in the long-term. In doing so, they’ll prepare themselves to take on nurse executive roles where they can maximize their contributions to the leadership team.

The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), an organization within the American Hospital Association (AHA), has already begun creating a path forward. It recently designated a special task force to teach nurse leaders five key competencies. They include:

  • Influencing innovation: Understanding the importance of educating staff, and encouraging them to try new approaches they may not have considered before
  •  Spanning boundaries: Teaching staff members not to “silo” themselves in a nursing role, but to contribute to patient care in any way possible (and make their contributions clear to the rest of the staff)
  •  Collaboration: Building stronger interpersonal relationships with doctors, and working together with them to create more effective patient care partnerships
  •  Expanding the use of technology: Embracing new tools and even social media, instead of clinging to tried-and-true methods or “the way we’ve always done things”
  •  Courage: A willingness to take risks when it comes to piloting new ideas, even if they may fail

Though it may not fit under any one of the above criteria, ensuring the consistent entry of patient data is also a growing focus for nurse leaders—especially now that most of that data is entered electronically.

That’s because nurses are the primary repositories of all information on a hospital’s patients (not surprising, considering they usually make up 75 percent of all hospital staff). When they enter information into electronic health records using an inconsistent format, they make it nearly impossible for other staff to retrieve it later. This effectively renders that valuable data useless.

Nurse executives must police the data entry process to make sure the information their teams collect can be used to its greatest potential. Fortunately, more tech-savvy millennials are filling nursing positions where they’re comfortable using advanced technologies, and teaching others how to as well. These nurses are much more likely to be targeted for leadership roles as their careers progress.

In short, the new generation of nurse executives has to be comfortable dealing with endless change. Though this constant evolution is sure to come even faster over the next several years, the challenges it brings will ultimately serve to make today’s nurse executives even stronger leaders tomorrow.

With more and more organizations struggling to keep up with a shifting healthcare landscape, strong nurse executives are exactly the kind of leaders our hospitals need.






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