A leader in nursing is generally a professional who has extensive knowledge and experience in the field as well as additional degrees, certifications, and licenses. The shortage of nurse in the healthcare field have made these leaders a crucial resource for the medical community, and most medical teams will include one or more nurse leaders. Leaders in nursing can effect real change in their field and the healthcare industry. They can leverage their positions of influence and expertise to champion barrier-free access to quality healthcare.
Through policy advocacy, community engagement, partnerships, workforce diversity, mentorship, research, and ongoing education, nurse leaders can make a significant impact on advancing healthcare equity and ensuring that everyone receives the care they need, regardless of barriers they may face. Through mentorship, teaching, and department management, nurse leaders can train their departments and new nurses starting their careers and shape the future of the profession and increase the accessibility of healthcare.
Advocate for Policy Changes
Leaders in nursing have the necessary knowledge and experience to provide policymakers with important information and recommendations on making healthcare more accessible for patients. In most areas, nurses who have furthered their education and increased their credentials with degrees and certificates are looked to for advice from other members of the medical community. Nurse leaders can engage in policy advocacy at local, regional, and national levels and can work with professional nursing organizations, healthcare associations, and policymakers to advocate for policies that support equitable and accessible healthcare for all. This can involve participating in advocacy campaigns, providing testimony, and collaborating with stakeholders to address barriers to care.Joining nursing associations and participating actively on their boards is an effective way for seasoned nurses to advocate for policy changes that will improve healthcare resources and make those resources available for all patients and their families.
Promote an Inclusive Workplace
Nurse leaders can actively promote diversity and inclusivity within their healthcare organizations. By ensuring a diverse representation of nurses and healthcare professionals, as well as creating a supportive and inclusive work environment, they can better understand the needs of diverse populations and tailor healthcare services accordingly. This can help break down barriers related to cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic factors. This type of inclusivity means that new nurses can participate in the training of all the staff because they are in a unique position to understand a specific group of patients and their medical needs. This gives new nurses confidence and a feeling of ownership for their departments and promotes an atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork.
Nurse leaders can form collaborative partnerships with other healthcare professionals, community organizations, and social service agencies to support holistic care and address social determinants of health. By working together, they can identify and address barriers, develop innovative programs, and provide comprehensive healthcare solutions that promote equitable access to quality care. These partnerships often result in deep bonds with the healthcare team and make accessing resources easier for patients.
In some states, nurse leaders have the autonomy to work with patients without the supervision of a physician and because of this experience, they have unique relationships with their clients. This perspective comes from a mixture of objective medical assessments with a hands-on and empathetic approach to patient-centered care. Nurse leaders can speak to the patients and families in understandable terms while also communicating with the rest of the team using medical terminology. This allows nurse leaders to collaborate with their patients on their own care and develop treatment plans with them that fit in with their lifestyles and physical abilities.
Nurse leaders can initiate and participate in community outreach programs to raise awareness about healthcare disparities and the importance of barrier-free access to quality care. This can involve hosting educational seminars, conducting health screenings, and collaborating with community organizations to address specific healthcare needs and connect vulnerable populations with resources.
Leaders in nursing such as nurse practitioners can treat clients without supervision and develop strong relationships with them and their families. This relationship allows the nurse to learn about the history of the families and their genetic predispositions to certain illnesses. They can teach all the generations of the same family healthy lifestyles, nutrition, and exercise programs to prevent illnesses from occurring or set up a regular routine for screening.
You can embark on your nursing leadership journey and help people navigate healthcare issues with more support.
Become a Mentor
Nurse leaders can provide mentorship and professional development opportunities to nurses and healthcare professionals. By nurturing the leadership skills and cultural competence of the healthcare workforce, they can promote advocacy and empower others to be proponents for barrier-free access to quality healthcare. Nurse leaders can lead by example by staying up to date on developments in healthcare and advocating for their mentees to attend workshops, seminars and other educational events to keep their skills sharp.
Becoming a mentor involves developing a close relationship with a mentee and teaching them how to make proper decisions daily as well as advocating for themselves and their patients. When a mentee develops these skills, they become an effective proponent for accessible healthcare and can pass that on to their own mentee in the future.
Nurse leaders can contribute to and support research initiatives focused on healthcare disparities and access to quality care. By generating evidence and disseminating research findings, they can inform policy development, foster innovative solutions, and promote evidence-based practices that reduce barriers and improve healthcare access. Nurse leaders involved in research can be present when policy meetings take place and can contribute to the discussion effectively with their knowledge and passion. Nurse leaders who are also involved in research canprovide data-based evidence to support the solutions being sought. To be involved in the research process, a nurse may need to have extensive experience as well as further education, like a master’s degree.
Nurse leaders must stay informed about current healthcare policies, trends, and research related to healthcare access and equity. By staying up to date, they can effectively advocate for change and educate others on the importance of barrier-free access to quality healthcare. The best way for a nurse to stay informed is to participate in online courses with accredited schools like Walsh University. When an individual applies to further their knowledge by getting additional degrees online, they are likely to learn about the most recent health care issues in the medical community. These courses are also developed for working professionals who want to continue their education while still working full-time.
Being a lifelong learner is a commitment to always being up to date on trends and issues in the nursing industry. Effective nurse leaders know how quickly things like technology, treatments, and protocols can change in their profession, so reading industry websites, checking in with nurse’s associations, and taking seminars and workshops on a regular basis are crucial. This activity can become a habit and makes a great lesson for newer nurses who are looking to move their way up in their careers.
Participate in Policy Development
Nurse leaders can actively participate in the development of health policies, guidelines, and standards. By bringing their expertise and patient-centered perspective to the table, they can influence policy decisions that promote equitable access to quality healthcare. Nurse leaders with many years of experience and advanced degrees are viewed with great respect in the healthcare community, and their opinions are valuable to effecting real change.
Often, when a committee is created to review existing policies or create new ones, a nurse leader is part of the members because they bring a unique and knowledgeable perspective. These professionals are also in possession of huge amounts of data that can help create policies that are based on evidence rather than anecdotes or opinion. An example is when a nurse leader can show the data that suggests more patients in a certain area have to travel long distances for health screenings; that data can prompt the decision-makers to open a clinic for screening in that area.
Advocate for Patient-Centered Care
Nursing leaders can advocate for patient-centered care models that prioritize individualized care and emphasize the unique needs and preferences of patients. By incorporating patient input and involving patients in decision-making processes, healthcare can become more responsive and tailored to address barriers they may face. These professionals are often the face of the medical team for most patients, and they can answer questions from the client and the family. In some cases, a patient will express a worry about accessing resources once they are out of the medical facility.
A nurse leader understands available resources so they can direct the patient, but they also can recognize if there is a deficiency. By working with the patient for their own care, a nurse leader can advocate for that patient and speak to community leaders or other members of the healthcare community to create new resources that make care more accessible.
Patients are often at the mercy of their healthcare teams and the plans put in place for them are not always suitable for their lifestyle. A nurse leader can communicate with them in simple terms that the patient understands while also acting as their advocate to create a medical plan that is accessible and simple to follow.
Promote Health Literacy
Nurse leaders can promote health literacy by developing educational resources and programs that empower patients to make informed healthcare decisions. By enhancing patients’ understanding of their health conditions, treatment options, and available resources, they can navigate the healthcare system more effectively, reducing barriers to care. Nurses also have the communication skills to simplify complex terms for their patients which enhances their understanding of their illness. By providing resources like apps, videos, and other tools a patient can access, nurse leaders can encourage patients to educate themselves on the proper lifestyles for the best health outcomes.
Raise Funds for Healthcare Initiatives
Nurse leaders can actively seek funding opportunities to support initiatives aimed at improving healthcare access and reducing barriers. This can involve applying for grants, collaborating with philanthropic organizations, or partnering with policymakers to secure funding for innovative programs and interventions. When a nurse leader is entrenched in a community, as some nurse practitioners are, they can develop important relationships with community leaders and other stakeholders that can help raise funds. Healthcare initiatives that come directly from the feedback provided by the community are more apt to be supported by government officials and other funding sources.
Advocate for Diversity in the Healthcare Industry
Nurse leaders can advocate for a diverse healthcare workforce that reflects the populations they serve. By actively promoting diversity in nursing and healthcare education programs, they can address disparities, reduce bias, and improve cultural competence, thus enhancing the quality of care and access to healthcare for underserved communities. By making the medical workforce more diverse, nurse leaders can create more programs that are specifically designed to treat certain ethnic and cultural groups. There are many cultures that have specific laws around medical procedures, and by having advocates for these ethnic groups, their rights and beliefs are treated with respect while they receive proper healthcare.
Through these strategies, nurse leaders can make a meaningful impact in promoting barrier-free access to quality healthcare. By addressing systemic barriers, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, using data to drive change, and advocating for patient-centered care, they can contribute to a more equitable healthcare system that leaves no one behind.