Recently, the nursing profession has emphasized the role of the nurse as leader. It is critical to keep in mind, however, that leadership is not a new role for nurses. Nurses have undertaken this obligation and duty for many years.
A 2016 released e-book by the American Nurses Association, “Nightingale’s Legacy: The Evolution of American Nurse Leaders,” affirms the “historical achievements of 20 prominent nurse leaders from Florence Nightingale’s time to the present,” according to Nursebooks.
Nursing leadership is extremely important in today’s complex healthcare environment and especially with the already-present beginning of the nursing shortage in the U.S. Articles abound on nurse leadership in the clinical area and in the boardrooms of healthcare facilities. The addition of the clinical nurse leader role in school curriculums also attests to the importance of this position in nursing.
While nurse leaders are unquestionably vital in the delivery of healthcare and in its management, leaders in nursing education also are imperative.
Shaping students’ knowledge
If you are a nurse faculty member, or are thinking about applying for such a position, you have the power to shape not only your students’ knowledge about what nursing is, but also to shape your understanding of what a leader is through your own attitude and demeanor toward that role. This influence is invaluable in helping students become good nurses and good leaders. It also will affect their ability to function legally and ethically.
A 2015 article, “Competencies for Leaders in Nursing Education” by Patterson and Krouse Nursing Education Perspectives, March/April 2015, identifies four core competencies for nursing education leaders:
- Articulate and promote a vision for nursing
- Function as a steward for the organization and nursing education
- Embrace professional values in context of higher education
- Develop and nurture relationships
Importance of relationships
Although all of the core competencies are indispensable, developing and nurturing relationships is particularly important from a legal perspective.
A nursing student’s relationships with faculty members clearly shape that student’s outlook on faculty, on others, and on himself. If treated with respect, if open lines of communication are present, if trust is established between faculty and student, and if acceptance is ever-present, the student can incorporate these, and other, positive attributes of the relationship and authentically use them as he progresses from student to practicing nurse to nurse leader.
If positive student nurse-faculty member relationships are cultivated throughout the student’s educational experience, many potential legal problems in the workplace can be avoided. For instance, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments and other employment decisions based solely on an individual’s membership in a group named in the Act. The groups include gender, race, color, national origin and religion.
The nurse manager or CNO who has experienced a nurturing relationship with faculty members will have the foundation to treat those he hires or promotes as human beings who have the potential to contribute to patient care and to the positive culture of the unit or facility rather than as someone whose differences are seen as a barrier to an employment decision.
Experiencing a nurturing relationship with faculty members allows nurses in other roles to reciprocate that experience to others with whom they come in contact and avoid potential legal troubles.
John Quincy Adams said: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” As a leader in nursing education, then, your ability to develop future nurse leaders is unending.