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Education Gap

Just because a nurse is a great clinician doesn't mean she'll be a great leader. The skills required to lead people and create high-performing teams are completely different than the skills required to be outstanding clinicians, experts say. So what core competencies are most nurse leaders lacking, and how can hospitals supplement their education?

Janetta DeOnna, RN, PhD
Project Director of Healthcare Workforce Initiatives
Penn State University
University Park, PA

Nurses are not trained to become managers. They may have a leadership course in a bachelor's degree program, but two-thirds of nurses do not receive leadership development. Hospitals have to assume responsibility. Identify who has the potential to be a good nurse manager. Begin mentoring them on fiscal planning and budgeting, which are some of the key competencies, before you transition them into the role. The mentor should have strong communication skills, know how adults learn, and take the role seriously. In healthcare we tend to do too much lecturing. Get out of the work environment, create a safe place to learn, and make it fun. Programs should have information on how to develop your own leadership style, how to create a culture of retention, how to lead quality improvement, and how to give feedback.

M.T. Meadows, RN, MS, MBA
Director of Professional Practice
The American Organization of Nurse Executives

New nurse managers come in with a very basic understanding of financial matters—from the ability to read financial statements to understanding how hospital reimbursement is determined. They often understand how budgets are developed but don't know what their responsibility and accountability is around the budget. They also need to know how to create a career path for themselves. The best hospitals provide nurse managers with a mentor or coach—a seasoned executive to whom they can turn to for help. Organizations have to have a willingness to help people learn. To get people to perform at their highest level takes time—some people don't feel comfortable in a new role for 12 to 18 months, so you have to be fairly tolerant and devote time to the process.

Carrie Vaughan

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