Nurse leaders are crucial to healthcare organizations, as they can effectively apply their understanding of holistic medicine and healthcare management. They display their leadership abilities by supervising teams that complete clinical tasks such as diagnosing ailments, handling patient admissions and discharges, prescribing and administering treatments and offering medical advice to patients and their families.
While registered nurses (RN) with moderate experience and knowledge can be competent in clinical elements of nursing, leading an interdisciplinary nursing team involves combining practical clinical education with a more advanced set of skills. According to industry data, nursing practitioners who have received their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree are able to provide treatment equal to that of a doctor.
Due to a doctor scarcity in the United States, nurse leaders with higher education and preparedness are required. Nurses should have the highest scientific knowledge and practice competence to deliver high-quality care and patient safety in the face of rising American healthcare needs. Nurses with advanced education can make a significant difference by preventing healthcare deficits such as unnecessary medical errors, a lack of care for chronic diseases and inadequate and limited access to timely care. Unfortunately, there is a nursing faculty shortage to train the next generation of advanced practice nurses.
However, there are numerous alternatives for nurses to improve their education and expand their job options. Still, many nurses wonder why they should pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. If you are wondering how to become a DNP, the most advanced nursing degree available is the Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (MSN to DNP). In contrast to a PhD, which is focused on original research, the DNP focuses on translational research.
Today’s healthcare system is undergoing an enormous transformation. Nurses with the necessary expertise and credentials, including a DNP, will be at the forefront of improving healthcare and patient care. The DNP degree is more than just the highest academic certificate in nursing. Online DNP programs help turn nurses into in-demand leaders in various administrative, clinical and educational roles by emphasizing scholarship and research.
A DNP frequently enables clinical practitioners to identify gaps, compare current training to evidence-based practice, and investigate the impact on patient outcomes. They are concerned with translating evidence into practice to enhance care systems, patient or population outcomes, and nursing care. But what exactly is it that needs to improve?
Improvements needed in nursing
Mental health stress is a significant factor in nurses leaving or considering leaving the profession entirely — a crisis exacerbated by a pandemic that disproportionately affected frontline health workers. A study performed by Johnson & Johnson evaluates the numerous professional, individual and workforce concerns fueling this crisis and charts a positive road forward for the nursing profession. In addition to quantitative data, over 30 nurse leaders and nurse advocates nationwide were interviewed to delve deeper into the study’s primary focus areas. The extent to which nurses struggled personally while caring for the sickest patients emerged as a recurring subject in the interviews.
Even before Covid-19, nurses had to deal with stressful work that resulted in a high incidence of mental illness. Nurses operate in various situations, with high degrees of individual responsibility, and are frequently the first point of contact for patients and relatives, coordinating treatment and delivering compassion in challenging moments. As a result, many nurses report significant stress levels. Over one-quarter of nursing staff sickness absence is attributable to anxiety, depression, stress or other psychiatric disorders.
Ways DNPs are trying to help
A shift from crisis intervention to the promotion of wellbeing and a focus on the prevention of mental health issues is desperately needed in nursing. Unfortunately, for many years leaders failed to address increasing rates of healthcare staff burnout (depersonalization, emotional weariness, job alienation, a sense of ineffectiveness and harmful lifestyle practices). It was considered an individual problem instead of a systemic one. As a result, individual nurses were left on their own to deal with these problems. Burnout is currently recognized by the World Health Organization as an occupational phenomenon that must be handled to sustain mental wellbeing on the job. DNPs play a vital role in pushing for change, and here are some of the things they are fighting for
Ensuring breaks are taken
Pushing through and finishing the job can be tempting, especially in a high-pressure setting. However, taking a break is crucial since it allows you to rest and heal, even for a short while. Nurses should not feel bad about it — it is not a luxury — it is there for the nurses’ and the patients’ protection. During breaks, DNPs are also trying to promote quiet spaces for nurses to escape the hustle and bustle environment. We live in a world continuously bombarded with people and tasks that demand our attention. It can become overwhelming and can severely impact mental health. Silence has been proven to improve mood and mental health significantly. Taking a few minutes each day for quiet time can help us discover who or what to focus on to feel better. Introspection during quiet time can also disclose our pressures and successful coping mechanisms.
Promoting moral resilience
Nurses should focus on fostering moral resilience when caring for patients. Moral resilience is facing distressing and unpredictable situations with courage and confidence by relying on solid values and beliefs. Moral resilience keeps people in check by helping the mind contextualize a problem and recognize when events are beyond their control. It is a concept that must be steadily constructed and developed by an individual, and it involves persistence and experience. Mindfulness practice and developing the parasympathetic nervous system to respond favorably to stress are two strategies that can increase moral resilience.
Changing shift patterns
Trusted Health research found that nearly three-quarters of nurses (71%) said their experiences as nurses would improve if they had more control over their schedules. More than half (52%) said how traditionally set nurses’ schedules lower their job satisfaction. Nurses observe as workers in other highly skilled businesses gain access to benefits such as flexible hours and remote work. Some nurses are being drawn away by chances in other companies that acknowledge their personal commitments. Hospitals and health systems must find methods to provide the same possibilities to nurses to keep them at the bedside.
Promoting wellbeing and open communication
The first step in coping with anxiety or depression is to become aware of the problem. Understanding that mental health disorders do not diminish an individual’s worth and are prevalent, particularly in nursing, helps empower nurses to seek the help they require. Unfortunately, the stigma associated with mental health difficulties and requesting mental health support persists, hindering nurses from receiving the required assistance. Healthcare organizations can help to minimize stigma by normalizing mental health conversations and informing staff about the services accessible to them.
Conduct more mental health screenings
Nurses are already aware of the significance of mental health screenings. After all, they do it all the time on patients. What about nurses, though? Is anyone checking up on them to make sure they are in good mental health? Unfortunately, most of the time, the response is a resounding negative. Routine mental health screenings are one method to offer nurses mental health support. In addition, mental health exams can assist hospitals and other facilities in determining how to support their nurses best and teach them how to care for themselves.
Many peer support initiatives have also aided nurses in distress. These programs, which are frequently structured inside a healthcare system, are offered as an extension or alternative to discipline programs. They can also be self-contained, or they can be accessed individually through telemedicine and nurse coaching. Evidence-based coping methods should be taught and emphasized throughout training programs at the institutional level. They should be provided consistently throughout each nurse’s professional career. Active coping mechanisms have already been linked to lower levels of burnout. Nurses are already at risk when it comes to mental health issues. DNPs and nurse leaders understand these issues and renew their commitment to preventing harm and alleviating the adverse effects of this among nurses nationwide.
How can DNPs achieve this?
One of the most challenging leadership tasks that administrators confront today is change management. Nurse leaders have a responsibility to help their teams and organizations manage these changes effectively in the healthcare industry, where change can be constant. Therefore, nurse leaders must strategically manage, support and mitigate the effects of change and sustain the necessary momentum and proper attitudes within their teams to implement new procedures and tools.
DNPs and nurse leaders have the necessary experience and abilities to meet strategic objectives. Strategic planning is analogous to the nursing practice. Both processes begin by identifying an end goal (for example, the patient recuperating from an illness) and assessing the current state concerning that goal. Then there is the planning and execution of a strategy to reach that aim. The final stage is determining whether the implementation of the plan was successful. Nurse leaders use the abilities gained from patient care and administrative activities to achieve strategic goals. Nurse leaders successfully implement operational and policy changes by utilizing evidence-based change approaches. They specifically anticipate how employees will react to change and select the appropriate leadership abilities and implementation tactics to carry out any strategy.
Implementation is never a single action but rather the result of a comprehensive plan and a step-by-step process incorporating several methods and interventions. Experienced DNP nursing leaders and change agents understand that change is relative to the individual experiencing it. Change will stimulate and energize some people while making others feel intimidated, worried or afraid of a loss of the familiar and status quo.
DNP nurse leaders must possess a specific skill set to deal with different people and personalities. Nursing leadership skills and behaviors are the distinguishing characteristics and attributes a team’s supervisory nurse demonstrates. Nurse leaders can exhibit a wide range of characteristics and behaviors because they are frequently in charge of managing a team of nurses, employing and training new team members, caring for patients and enhancing service. This means that a nurse leader has all a nurse’s talents and numerous leadership and management abilities.
While leadership comes naturally to many people, nurses gain even more leadership abilities on the job due to the nature of their demanding and multifaceted role. All nurses in the healthcare organization have the potential to be leaders. To demonstrate leadership skills and traits, they do not need to be in a defined nurse leadership role or role of authority. Leadership in nursing can be achieved through experience, certification and an advanced degree. Above all, a nurse leader must be adaptable and agile in a fast-changing workplace. Remember that the talents required to be a nurse leader will evolve as the profession does. The necessity for nurses to be adaptable develops with each new demand in the world of healthcare.
Nursing leadership is critical, especially during Covid-19, because the healthcare sector has encountered numerous problems recently. These difficulties include an aging population, hospitals at capacity and significant nurse turnover. In addition, the pandemic has put enormous strain on healthcare leaders, with many nurses required to act quickly and help their employees. The pandemic’s tremendous patient response has placed additional pressure on healthcare providers, pushing them to make quick choices and ensure that all healthcare personnel feel secure in their employment. Leadership in nursing is critical since it directly impacts the flow and evolution of healthcare units. As a result, it affects an organization’s success and the quality of care it provides to its patients.