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Arkansas State University

Qualities Wanted in Nurse Leaders

The healthcare system is complex and constantly evolving due to new developments in technology, techniques and policy. Quality patient care depends on nurses being educationally prepared to meet the challenges in the nursing profession. In order to forge ahead with the delivery of patient care and navigate the complicated healthcare environment, nurses must demonstrate leadership qualities.

How Does a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Prepare Nurse Leaders?

A large portion of the patient population is reaching retirement age, and older patients often have one or more chronic health conditions. Additionally, nurses dispense a multitude of medications and operate highly technical medical equipment. When nurses complete an RN to BSN degree program, they receive a comprehensive education that equips them to provide the utmost quality of patient care. Moreover, they prepare to become confident nurse leaders with these skills:

  • Case management.
  • Clinical.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Health promotion.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Leadership.

What Do You Learn in an RN to BSN Degree Program?

RN to BSN programs concentrate on incorporating evidence-based research into nursing practice. The BSN curriculum includes these subjects:

  • Disease prevention.
  • Evidence-based practice.
  • Finance.
  • Health policy.
  • Interprofessional communication.
  • Population management.
  • Systems leadership.

Why Should Nurses Prepare for Leadership Roles?

The need for nurses to take on leadership roles has increased because of changes in healthcare policy, advances in science, and the rising number of patients with serious illnesses like cancer, diabetes, arthritis and dementia. Nurses need to understand the value of evidence-based research and the how-to’s of effective collaboration with members of their team. Delegating tasks and developing care plans to ensure successful patient outcomes also form part of a nurse leader’s responsibilities.

What Are the Qualities of a Nurse Leader?

Nurse leaders are passionate about nursing. They show up for work ready to focus on their patients. They have the ability to examine patients, assess their condition and make quick decisions regarding care, especially in emergency situations. A successful nurse leader assumes many roles:

  • Compassionate caregiver.
  • Careful listener.
  • Educator.
  • Lifelong learner.
  • Patient and healthcare advocate.

Nurse leaders set standards for behavior by treating patients and coworkers with empathy and respect. They are also conscientious listeners. Through listening to patients’ concerns and answering questions, nurse leaders are able to establish trust.

Leaders tend to take on a teaching role, whether it is on the nursing floor or in the classroom. Good nurse leaders are willing to educate recent graduates starting their careers or nurses who are still having trouble grasping a newly introduced technique or procedure.

Nurse leaders never stop learning. They are committed to continuing their education so they can stay up to date on breakthroughs in patient care. Leaders in nursing also advocate for patient safety, rights and healthcare reform by joining committees, boards and associations.

How Can You Become a Nurse Leader?

Anyone can take on a leadership role in nursing, but to be employed as a nurse manager or nurse leader you need to have at least a BSN. Many employers prefer to hire nurses with a BSN because of the recommendation published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) — renamed the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in 2015. The IOM’s 2010 report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health calls for 80 percent of nurses to have a BSN by 2020.

For ADN- and diploma-prepared nurses who want to pursue a BSN, online programs are a great option. Many schools like Arkansas State University offer online RN to BSN programs that are affordable and flexible for the working nurse.

Nurse leaders motivate, inspire and encourage other staff members to achieve positive patient results. They are vital to the healthcare system. Without nurse leaders, advancements in health and patient care may be difficult to achieve and sustain. Fortunately, there are many dedicated nurses who understand the importance of solid leadership. By sharing their knowledge and protecting patients, they keep moving forward in the field of healthcare.

Learn more about the A-State online RN to BSN program.


Lippincott Nursing Center: All Nurses Are Leaders 5 Positive Traits of a High-Caliber Nurse Leader

American Nurse Today: Nine Principles of Successful Nursing Leadership

The National Academy of Medicine: Report Recommendations

Emerging RN Leader: Why Nurse Managers Need a BSN RN to BSN Programs Benefit Nurses and Healthcare

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