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Preparing Competent Nurse Leaders for 2020: Are We Preparing Our Future
Healthcare system is faced by various challenges, which could undermine its ability to meet health needs of the population in future. Some of the challenges are associated with the dynamic changes happening in the healthcare sector. These include increasing demand for healthcare services, application of new technologies, such as genetic engineering, and information technology, government policies such as healthcare reforms act in addition to the changing healthcare needs of the population. However, perhaps the greatest challenge is lack of competent nurse leaders, to provide appropriate guidance and stewardship.
To develop competent nurse leaders, equipping them with appropriate leadership skills is crucial to enhance their self-efficacy. One of the approaches is through coaching nurse leaders, to inculcate skills that promote a culture of continuous improvement in the working place. This would enhance the quality of healthcare services delivered, help the nurse leaders anticipate, plan and respond to the future challenges in nursing practice and healthcare in general.
The healthcare system has been undergoing considerable changes, characterized by changing health care needs of the population, increased adoption of new medical technology in treatment and management of various disorders and formulation of new healthcare policies such as Affordable care Act. In addition, staff shortages, especially in nursing profession and the ever increasing demand to provide quality and affordable care across the population are other major challenges facing the healthcare system. These challenges have placed the role of nurse leaders in a challenging position because of their major roles in administration and providing healthcare services to patients. The need to empower nurse leaders with relevant leadership skills to prepare them adequately to handle the challenges is more urgent than before . The purpose of the research paper is to explore approaches of enhancing self-efficacy of the nurse leaders to enhance their competence for the future nursing practice.
In cognizance of the need to enhance the capacity of nurses to handle future challenges in the healthcare system, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in collaboration with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) developed several recommendations, essential in transforming the nursing practice to enhance its capacity to adequately prepare for the challenges. Some of the recommendations in the IOM and RJWF report include enhancing the capacity of nurses to perform to their full range of their competence and knowledge by eliminating the diverse barriers hindering their ability to perform optimally in nursing practice (Grossman & Valiga, 2016). Additionally, the IOM and RWJF report recommended the nurses to be actively involved in advancing their education to baccalaureate degree and doctorate level, in addition to participation in continuous learning to enhance their competence and knowledge in various critical areas affecting nursing practice either directly and indirectly. These include application of evidence based practice, advocacy, leadership, management and administration (Grossman & Valiga, 2016).
The IOM and RJWF recommendations are in agreement with various research studies that recognize the unpreparedness of current nurse leaders to deal with the future healthcare demands and challenges in the healthcare system. Murphy, Goossen and Weber (2017) identified various skills required of nurse leaders to enhance their performance in future healthcare settings. These include integrity, problem solving capability, and ability to apply various information technology applications, such as big data in promoting efficiency and quality of healthcare services. Additionally, promoting a culture in workplace that encourage clinical decision making processes based on best evidence is another critical skill required of nurse leaders (Murphy, Goossen & Weber, 2017; Delgado & Mitchell, 2016).
Other skills required of competent nurse leaders for 2020 include ability to create organizational culture that promotes continuous improvement in delivery of quality healthcare services to patients and employees’ safety (WHO, 2016; Patricia, 2013). Similarly, nurse leaders are required to participate actively in political and advocacy activities concerning healthcare of the population, in addition to building teams that enhance multilevel and multidisciplinary collaboration in delivery of healthcare services across the healthcare system. Administration and management are other roles of nurse leaders, which require promoting development of talent and appraising performance of nursing staff, in addition to being proactive in predicting, responding and adapting to future changes that affect delivery of healthcare services (Grossman & Valiga, 2016). This implies that nurse leaders should be visionary and effective planners to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to enhance delivery of quality healthcare services in the midst of the dynamic and chaotic changes in the healthcare sector.
Maintenance and sustaining professional nursing practice standards in the working environment is one of the major challenges that nurse leaders face today. As active participants in making decisions pertaining to delivery of ethical, and quality healthcare services, nurse leaders should develop the requisite leadership skills in this regard. This is of critical importance to prevent the adverse outcomes associated with delivery of substandard healthcare services, such as low patient satisfaction levels, injury to patients and other healthcare practitioners in addition to increased cost of healthcare services (Patricia, 2013). To enhance delivery of high quality services in the nursing environment, nurse leaders should acquire appropriate leadership qualities to inspire other nurses to work towards continuous quality improvement of healthcare services delivered to the patients. To achieve the goal effectively, nurse leaders should develop self-efficacy and conviction in their abilities to successfully inspire achievement of the required results in the healthcare environment.
Nurse leaders have considerable influence on other nurses in regard to promoting and encouraging continuous improvement of healthcare services delivered in healthcare facilities. To enhance and appraise performance in the workplace, nurse leaders apply various techniques, including coaching and creating a culture of continuous quality improvement in healthcare institutions (Patricia, 2013). Coaching and ability to create a culture of development in the workplace are some of the most important attributes of preparing nurses for 2020. Coaching is a customized technique to leadership, in which nurse leaders provide constant feedback and support to individual nurse to enhance performance and professional development. Nurse leaders do this through continuous performance evaluation of individual nurses, to identify their unique strengths and weaknesses with an objective of enabling them improve their individual capacities (Grossman & Valiga, 2016).
The objective of the study was to empower nurse leaders with competence to evaluate and appraise nurses’ performance. In addition it is intended to enhance self-efficacy of nurse leaders in promoting application of evidence based practices in the work environment to promote the quality of healthcare delivered to the patients. The objectives are tied to the goal of preparing competent nurse leaders for 2020. Coaching method will be applied to inculcate requisite leadership skills, using interactive but personalized methods to coach, facilitate and inspire the nurse learners. By the end of the coaching, the learners are expected to develop self-efficacy in various aspects of their leadership skills, including ability to evaluate individual nurse performance to determine their unique strengths and weaknesses and ability to instill a culture of continuous quality improvement in the work place, through articulation of nursing professional and ethical standards in the workplaces.
Implications for nursing practice
The research highlights the critical areas required to prepare competent nurse leaders for 2020. These areas includes promoting a culture of continuous quality improvement in delivery of health care services, application of information technology and emerging medical technologies in enhancing the quality of care delivered, in addition to involvement in health advocacy through various channels, including politics. To assist in development of these aspects, it is important for individual nurses to develop self-efficacy in their ability to lead in their respective work places. This could be achieved through promoting coaching in order to inspire and facilitate the capacity of individual nurse to develop and enhance their respective skills and competences in the workplaces.
The healthcare sector is undergoing considerable changes caused by various factors. These include government policies, changing healthcare needs of the population and application of new medical technologies among other dynamics. Thus, the role of nurse leaders in providing leadership in their administrative and professional capacities as nurses is crucial. To prepare nurse competent nurse leaders, empowering them with requisite leadership skills is essential. Some of the approaches of empowering them include enhancing their self-efficacy, to enable them inculcate a culture of quality improvement in the work places to enhance their capacity to respond to future changes in healthcare services.
Delgado, C. & Mitchell, M. (2016). A Survey of Current Valued Academic Leadership Qualities in Nursing. Nursing Education Perspectives, 37(1): 10-15.
Grossman, S., & Valiga, T.(2016). The New Leadership Challenge: Creating the Future of nursing.5th Ed. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.
Murphy, J., Goossen, W., & Weber, P.(2017). Forecasting informatics competencies for nurses in the future of connected health: proceedings of the nursing informatics post conference 2016. New York: IOS Press.
Patricia, S. Y. (2013). Leading and Managing in Nursing. 5th Ed. St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Health Sciences.
World Health Organization (WHO)(2016). Nurse educator core competences. Available at http://www.who.int/hrh/nursing_midwifery/nurse_educator050416.pdf