I’m Considering Becoming a Nurse Leader … What Can I Expect?
If you enjoy the challenges and the satisfaction that come from bringing people together, setting a high bar for excellence, and creating a professionally rewarding workplace culture, then consider a role as a Nurse Leader. You would provide vision, perspective, accountability, and expertise to support quality patient care and a safe, healthy work environment. Our profession relies on nursing leaders of all levels to plan, navigate challenges, and forge a path forward in a rapidly changing health care system.
What type of Nurse Leadership role should I pursue?
Understanding the various leadership roles and the expectations for each level can help you better align your career goals with your personal professional advancement plan. Though there are many unique leadership roles not described here, the most commonly recognized positions are Nurse Manager, Director of Nursing (DON), Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), and Chief Nurse Executive (CNE).
A Nurse Manager is accountable for unit-based outcomes and reports to a DON. A DON generally oversees a group of Nurse Managers or an entire department and reports to the CNO or CNE. The CNO or CNE bears responsibility for professional nursing practice across the entire organization. The CNO’s or CNE’s influence extends to working with other executives and the community. With each progressively higher career transition, the leader’s scope of responsibility and span of influence increase.
What kind of experience and credentials do I need to become a Nurse Leader?
The foundation for all levels of leadership is developed through knowledge gained from real-world experience combined with formal education and mentoring. If you’re just beginning your leadership journey, seek a charge nurse or assistant manager role as a good first start. Become bachelors-prepared in nursing if you don’t already have your degree, and then go for master’s preparation to assure you’re qualified for higher-level leadership roles. For a CNO or CNE role, expect to eventually need a doctoral degree such as a DNP.
What qualities and competencies are essential for success as a Nurse Leader?
Successful Nurse Leaders motivate and inspire others to work together to achieve shared goals, including the delivery of high quality, safe, and evidence-based patient care. ANA’s resource, Nine Principles to Improve Your Effectiveness as a Leader
, can be your blueprint for leadership success in any stage of your leadership career.
Commit to excellence
Measure important things
Build a culture around services
Create and develop leaders
Focus on employee satisfaction
Build individual accountability
Align behaviors with goals and values
Communicate at all levels
Recognize and reward success
CLICK here to learn about all nine principles
What resources are available for my leadership journey?
With each progressive phase of your leadership journey, new skills and competencies are necessary. Ongoing continuing education is vital to your leadership success. ANA is there to support you through online courses that can be accessed in your workplace or in the comfort of your home. Do you prefer to attend a conference for continuing education? ANA has you covered with cutting-edge leadership content and networking opportunities.
Looking for a mentoring relationship with an experienced nurse leader to strengthen your performance? If so, we can help through our well-established ANA mentoring program.
Achieve the professional distinction of becoming board certified as a Nurse Executive (NE-BC) or Nurse Executive Advanced (NEA-BC). It’s a mark of professional excellence that will give you a competitive edge in the leadership job market. ANA has resources to help you prepare and be successful!