The Role of Nurse Executives in Changing the System from within

Strong leadership is essential as the healthcare system in the United States works to transform its services and policies to better align with today’s healthcare needs. Not all nurses enter the profession with the intention of becoming leaders; however, effective leadership to bring nurses together is absolutely critical. The good news is that nurse executives are well poised to revolutionize the nursing industry as healthcare continues to evolve.

This article explores how nurse executives can bring about changes in healthcare from inside the system.

What is a nurse executive?

A nurse executive is simply a nurse in an executive position. Think about the CEOs and presidents of companies. Those individuals are the highest executives in their organizations and manage many people in different departments. Nurse executives hold the same kind of responsibilities. Overseeing the management aspect of patient care services in addition to making administrative decisions supporting not only the organization’s goals but also their patients’ best interests are the two most important roles they play.

They typically hold the highest nursing positions in any organization and are responsible for keeping the organization’s patient services afloat.

What do nurse executives do?

Nurse executives are important in all the ways outlined above, and their specific duties are crucial to running an effective and safe medical facility.

First, nurse executives are responsible for managing care teams. It consists of managing teams of all nurses and interprofessional team members, which see professionals from multiple departments coming together to provide the best care possible.

As team managers, nurse executives typically hire new employees, train them, give performance reviews, and schedule shifts. They are also responsible for mentoring new team members, promoting respectful discourse and communication, and designing rules and guidelines to help their teams thrive. Nurse executives also tend to handle administrative duties for their teams.

Related to the above, nurse executives often handle finances. The extent of this varies from organization to organization and can range from taking care of department-specific costs to handling the overall finances of the healthcare organization in question.

The last role is policy creation. Nurse executives often have the opportunity to create, improve, and shape new policies in the organization. The extent and topic of these policies tend to vary quite widely, ranging from recordkeeping to patient care procedures. Nurse executives are a key part of their healthcare organizations and often help make permanent changes for the better.

Considering a career in nursing or aspiring to become a nurse executive can lead to rewarding opportunities for personal and professional growth. If you’re wondering, “Should I get a DNP?” exploring further can provide valuable insights. A doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree could be an invaluable tool in this pursuit, providing advanced knowledge and skills. Consider reputable institutions such as Baylor University that offer online DNP programs, allowing flexibility for a balanced work-study life. Understanding the significance of your alma mater can help you on your path to a successful future in nursing leadership.

How do nurse executives bring about change in the industry?

In addition to all of the roles discussed above, nurse executives are essential to changing the industry for the better. The healthcare system is not an infallible one, after all, and as society changes, it must adapt to meet new needs and expectations as well as implement new technologies and knowledge. Nurse executives have the opportunity to play a critical role in this evolution. Here are some of the ways nurse executives bring about change in the healthcare industry:

Advocate for patient-centered care

Because they interact closely with patients and their care teams, nurse executives are in a good position to advocate for policies prioritizing patient needs. They can encourage empathy, compassion, and clear communication through these policies and include training opportunities to ensure that everyone under their purview is as dedicated to providing an impeccable experience as they are.

Promote evidence-based practice

By keeping up with the latest research and evidence-based technologies and techniques in the industry, nurse executives are able to encourage care evolution. They encourage their staff to integrate proven new best practices into their rotations and support initiatives to standardize new and effective patient care techniques.

Emphasize quality and safety

Nursing can sometimes become monotonous, especially when you work on one floor or in one department every day. It can lead to easily preventable mistakes. Unfortunately, this is often not adequately addressed by making changes to schedules or implementing additional training to help minimize these issues as much as possible. Nurse executives are in a unique position to encourage healthy habits to keep patients safe and implement advanced technology and data analytics to help monitor patient interaction and prevent errors.

Encourage policy change

We’ve talked about how nurses are often responsible for shaping new policies in their healthcare organizations, but we haven’t talked about why that’s important. While hospitals and other healthcare facilities exist to meet the healthcare needs of the communities they serve, these systems are very slow to change. Nurse executives can stay updated about healthcare policies and regulations at local, regional, and national levels and work to make positive changes. Some hospitals are only now beginning to implement specific care standards to address issues like racism, for example. Nurse executives can help speed this change along.

Are you interested in learning more about how you can revolutionize the healthcare system? Keep the information above in mind and further research the nurse executive position. Does it seem like something you’d enjoy doing? If so, take a look at the educational requirements and start on your journey to the healthcare revolution sure to follow!


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