Nurses: Respond to the Call to Lead

By: Jennifer Chaikin, RN-BC, MSN, MHA, CCRN Executive Director of Educational Initiatives, Nurse.com
After nearly 20 years in critical care nursing, Jennifer made the move to providing professional development opportunities for nurses. She still continues to remain clinically grounded by working in a local PICU.
Jennifer Chaikin, RN

Jennifer Chaikin, RN

Nurses, we have a problem. It is not the shortage, electronic medical records or sicker patients. Our problem is the lack of consistent nursing leadership that helps us deal with these challenges.

Let’s be honest, how many of us went into nursing so we could become managers or administrators? Most nurses, like myself, chose nursing because they wanted to be hands-on staff — making changes at the bedside. Nurses seem to always think about climbing the “clinical ladder” but never even consider climbing the “management ladder” or how this path, too, can make direct changes at the bedside.

Again, be honest, how many of you have left your job because of poor management?  If we had a better manager, would we have stayed? And doesn’t it seem as if the same challenges with management occur over and over again no matter where you work?

We are at a time in nursing and in healthcare that requires our full attention and a response to the call to lead. Nursing is not a job where we clock in, work a shift, and leave.

Have you ever wondered, if I was the manager, I would…? But those thoughts stop short and fail to turn to action? What if you are able to gain these additional leadership skills and the ability to create change at the bedside? Would you do it? What would it mean to influence and guide others in their careers?

All those frustrations about unfair schedules, staffing patterns, turnover rates, new grad education … everything you are passionate about while you are at work that only leads to venting with your co-workers or to family members. Nurses, YOU are the professionals who can create positive change.

The challenge is that often nurses are thrown into leadership positions. They accept them without knowing what to do or how to succeed. Charge nursing and precepting are perfect examples. Those who thrive in these positions are then assumed to become managers. That is a mistake many make and is what prevents nurses from accepting and staying in these important roles. While the skills of being an effective communicator are similar for staff nurses and managers, the impact is vastly different. Managers must understand their impact not only on the daily running of a unit, but also on the personnel, patients, families, and in healthcare delivery as a whole. Business management skills, including budgets, strategic planning and human resources are lacking in nursing management education.

I encourage you to dig deep in your individual career planning. Open your mind to the endless possibilities that nursing offers you. I took a chance and moved away from direct patient care because I knew that my contributions to nursing and healthcare directly impacted patients and families every day.

I challenge you to check out this month’s FREE educational offering about nursing management development. You can earn contact hours and at the same time determine your interest in management and learn some basics to get your started. And if you are already a manager, you can get a refresher and valuable information on these basics.

Want to fix the problem? Use that passion for your patients and community and step up to using your uniqueness as a nurse to deliver leadership and vision.

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