Establishing nursing leadership skills is critical to producing and fostering exceptional nurses who lead by example and are equipped to make the serious decisions necessary in their line of work. Creating these leadership skills can come about as early as in nursing school, where the student nurses are beginning to develop her technical skills as well as emotional ones for dealing with a career in the medical field.
Have nursing students come up with one or several areas they could improve upon in the nursing field or an idea that they believe would better the profession in some way. Have the students give a presentation outlining what their idea or suggestions are, how they will improve an aspect of nursing and their suggested procedure for implementing them. Nursing, as with the medical field as a whole, is forever changing and evolving with technological advances and developments. Since nurses are on the front lines dealing with patients, doctors and procedures on a daily basis, they are dynamically positioned to make effective and educated suggestions. Developing their comfort level in doing so can increase their confidence and leadership ability in making these suggestions on the job.
New nurses or clinical rotation nurses are often paired with nursing mentors or established nurses when they enter into the professional workforce or their clinical rotation. Foster the student-to-teacher relationship present in these professional circumstances while the students are still in school. Pair up older students with younger students to be their mentor and student adviser throughout the school year or semester. This will allow the nursing students the opportunity to become the authority in the relationship and will increase their confidence by becoming a mentor to someone younger. Their ability to lead will be increased and they will become more comfortable with the dynamic.
Nurses often have to take the lead and make difficult decisions in their line of work. Nurses are at the patient's bedside much more often than most doctors and they have a higher degree of contact with the patient's families as well. Because of this they will need strong conflict resolution and leadership skills, as they will often be the professional voice in the room. Nurses also need to be able to make the decision as to when the appropriate time to call in a doctor is, and when they should handle situations on their own. Set up a variety of scenarios of possible conflict between the nurse and the patient, the nurse and the patient's family and the nurse and the doctor. Have the students take turns role playing and practicing the best way to handle high-stress situations with leadership and authority.
Michelle Barry graduated from Salve Regina University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Since then, she has worked as a reporter for the Wilbraham-Hampden Times, an editor for Month9Books and Evolved Publishing, editor and has spent the past seven years in marketing and graphic design. She also has an extensive background in dance.