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Leading With Impact: Mastering Leadership in Nursing

May 9, 2024
May 9, 2024

As healthcare organizations continue to struggle with staffing shortages and retention issues, creating a pipeline of future leaders remains critically important. In a recent webinar, HealthStream introduced courseware that outlines the core principles of nursing leadership and provides insights and tools to guide nurses on the path to professional development while helping other nurses on their journeys. The webinar was moderated by HealthStream’s Daniel Pawlus and featured Sarah E. Gray, DNP, RN, CEN, FAEN, Chief Nursing Officer, Sigma.


SIGMA – At a Glance

Dr. Gray began with an overview of Sigma - a global organization with more than 100,000 members from over 600 chapters in more than 100 countries around the world.  She shared that the Sigma’s vision is to connect and empower nurse leaders thereby transforming global healthcare.

During the presentation Dr. Gray shared key insights about the skills needed for successful professional development and introduced tools that will empower nurses and create a pipeline for tomorrow’s nursing leadership.


Understanding Foundational Barriers to Emotional Wellbeing

A 2021 survey conducted by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) found that 75% of nurse managers reported that their number one priority was emotional health and well-being. When frontline staff were surveyed, 61% felt that the key issue was surge staffing along with training and staff retention. Further, 92% of nurse leaders reported concerns about safety, infection risks, stress, fear, anxiety, and workloads.

“Nursing is tough,” acknowledged Dr. Gray. Additionally, professional stresses are often compounded by personal concerns over childcare issues, fatigue, and a lack of psychological support. All of these factors can combine to create nurses that may feel isolated, burnt out, and disengaged.

Dr. Gray referred to Maslow’s familiar hierarchy of needs which helps us understand how to build a support system for nurses beginning with the most foundational needs as identified by Maslow.


What Do Nurses Want and Need from Leaders?

Leaders should be prepared to support nurses. That support might take a variety of forms, but can be a very satisfying part of a leader’s role. That support might take the form of advocacy, facilitation, and a focus on creating a healthy workplace for nurses. Sigma’s training is useful for supporting leaders at every level from frontline leadership to nurse manager to director and executive roles.

The webinar poll participants reported that they believed that the frontline manager role was among the most difficult to support. These managers represent the largest percentage of leaders and typically they have little training and that training tends to be quite inconsistent. Sigma’s Learner Development Plan helps frontline managers to identify goals, determine how they will evaluate success, determine the actions that they will need to take in order to reach those goals, and make practical decisions about how to implement what they have learned.


Empowering Leaders with the Right Resources

Role clarity is essential to both new and existing nurse leaders. Dr. Gray encouraged nurse leaders to answer the “why” questions. This may be of particular importance for younger generations who may be somewhat more likely to feel a need to understand the background of any given situation. They may also wish to have a deeper understanding of other factors that may be influencing the care that is provided.

Creating leaders that are great coaches is also essential to healthcare. It is important to patient care and important to maintaining a pipeline of future leaders. Dr. Gray encouraged leaders to act as their own coaches by focusing on mastering their own skills, improving productivity, developing professional competence, and improving their conflict management skills. Sigma’s Coaching in Nursing course can provide skills and knowledge that will facilitate collaboration and communication while also encouraging the professional development that can drive retention and satisfaction.


Resources for Leadership Development

In addition to courseware aimed at developing frontline managers, Sigma and HealthStream are offering a Nurse Manager Certificate course. The web-based program uses the very latest evidence-based content. At the completion of the program, nurses will earn 76 CNEs. There are 16 courses within the Nurse Manager Program covering topics as varied as strategic planning, team management, patient satisfaction, staff development, ethics and work-life balance. The courses address theory and include learning activities and knowledge checks to help ensure understanding and the ability to apply what has been learned.