A nurse must manage several roles and responsibilities throughout their career. Throughout their professional development a nurse will be able to learn the skills needed to manage the responsibilities of several nursing roles. Nurses should be prepared to work on their professional development through the following tasks: becoming an advocate for the profession, being responsible for professional activities, demonstrating competence within the profession, being a role model for others and becoming a leader for those around them. Through the analysis of these tasks the professional development of nurses throughout their career can be explored and understood.
Nurse often have to advocate for patients and their families to ensure that they are receiving necessary services. Nurses have to also be able to professionally advocate for themselves and their fellow nurses. Nurses can often be overlooked despite the extensive work they do in caring for patients. Nurses have to work long shifts which can be both emotionally and physically draining. Nurses who are first starting out also may not earn a lot of money and may not have the flexibility to take time off. Nurses have to stick together as a group to ensure that their needs are met. Nurses must be able to advocate with hospital administration in order to have their micro level needs met. This could be in the form of asking for more breaks during long shifts or ensuring that their pay is not cut or they are not fired to meet budgetary demands. By advocating for their individual needs nurses can eventually make changes for the nursing profession as a whole.
Through advocacy on smaller individual needs nurses can eventually shift the focus to the broader needs of the profession. Nurses must be able to advocate for more resources in the form of medical supplies, increased training or increased nursing staff. Nurses must also be able to advocate for changes in hospital procedure or policies which may leave them overworked and underfunded. This form of advocacy cannot effectively occur just on the micro level. Nurses must be able to go beyond advocating to just hospital administrators as some policy changes will need to occur on the macro legislative level. “That is, effective nursing leadership currently is a vehicle through which both nursing practice and health policy can be influenced and shaped.” (Antrobus, 1999, pg. 746). Through professionally advocating for healthcare reform nurses have the right and responsibility to each other so as to make changes and improvements within the nursing profession.
A nurse leader must engage in professional activities to ensure that they are meeting standards within the profession. A nurse is able to do this through attending conferences and meeting with other professionals. They can gain new knowledge about the direction that the nursing field is heading towards. Nurses are then able to impart this knowledge back to the other nurses they lead within their units. Through attending these professional events nurses can also network with other individuals who may be able to provide resources or knowledge they may not have had. These conferences could also provide nurses with opportunities to conduct advocacy work by collaborating with other professionals in the field through gaining ideas about how they implemented change.
Nurses can also arrange professional activities within their local nursing communities. Through these professional activities nurses can not only provide opportunities for networking but also to build morale for the nurses. As work in hospital settings can often be taxing on nurses it is important to be able to provide nurses with the opportunity to relax and de-stress. These types of activities can often be overlooked as waste of resources however a staff that has high morale will have high amount of productivity. Nurses who are well cared for would be better equipped to care for their patients and also support each other in difficult situations. Boosted morale would be beneficial for the hospital, patients and other professionals within the organization.
Nurse leaders have the difficult task of ensuring that they demonstrate competency within their profession and so do the staff that work within their unit. They must also ensure that the training they receive is comprehensive in covering all of the roles a nurse must take on. Through the utilization of conferences or developing training opportunities within their hospitals, nurses can ensure that they are up to date with the latest developments in the field. Nurses can also provide consultation to new nurses to assist them with difficult cases or situations that they are having since starting to work in the field. This would provide nurses with the opportunity to practice their own skills while imparting wisdom to those who are just starting out in the field of nursing.
Nurses must also maintain competency within their profession by ensuring that they are staying within their designated scope of practice. As the nurse’s role becomes more diversified, they have to become careful to stay within their knowledge and capabilities. “There have been several responses to the problem of role ambiguity with in-hospital CNS roles. One has been the development of Scope of Practice and Standards of Professional Performance statements for the acute and critical care CNS” (Joel, 2009, pg. 28) A nurse must be able to recognize when they need to make referrals to other professionals rather than completing the services themselves. While this would come with experience a nurse must be trained in understanding what is within their scope of practice. Through providing these trainings nurses can ensure that the hospital is protected from liability. This would also protect patients by ensuring that they are receiving competent care.
A nurse leader must have the skills needed to be a leader before she is placed within that role. However, Laurent (2000), found that nurse leaders are often unprepared for these leaderships roles as they are just taught to manage systems. “This has provided most nurses with a solid foundation in ‘management’, but little in terms of ‘leadership.” (Laurent, 2000, pg. 83). Nurses need to be taught leadership rather than management skills. These skills are acquired through experience, training and the professional development that a nurse undergoes as a part of their professional development. The nurse leader’s role is to be able to manage other nurses to ensure that patient care is effectively provided. A nurse leader must be able to handle her responsibilities while managing the staff which can be a difficult role to undertake. The nurse leader must be prepared to manage any situation or crisis that occurs on her unit. The nurse leader must exude confidence and knowledge in being able to manage these responsibilities efficiently.
A nurse leader must also ensure that she is supportive of her staff and building morale with them. While she may not be able to arrange professional activities, this task could be completed through the way in which she interacts with her staff. The nurse leader can be a supervisor to her staff rather than a manager. Her goal should be to teach the nurses on her unit rather than telling them what to do. A nurse leader must prepare her staff to be able to manage the unit when she is not there. The most effective nurse leader would be preparing her staff to take on leadership responsibilities themselves as they eventually move up within the organization over time.
The nurse leader is inherently a professional role model whether she would like to be or not. “Whether or not (nursing) faculty are consciously aware of their actions, they are role models who have enormous impact on fostering of squelching the development of leadership in future nurses” (Anderson, 1999, pg. 88). The nurse leader must be able to follow policy and procedures of the organization she works within as the nurses on her staff will emulate her model. The nurse leader also has to be cautious in always preventing a professional demeanor. If at any time this professional relationship is not maintained a nurse leader could lose her credibility as a leader. As the nurse leader is guiding and teaching her staff the best way this task could be achieved is through the development of a nurturing and supportive relationship with her staff.
A nurse leader can also be a professional role model to those around her. As nurse leaders have often been in the field for many years, they may have the experience which is looked up to not just from other nurses but also other professionals in the same field. Upholding their boundaries with these professionals will ensure that the nurse and the nursing profession receive the respect they deserve. A respected nurse leader would develop the capabilities to have influence over other professionals and would at times be able to sway these professionals in being able to provide assistance to other nurses. Through discussion of how other professionals can provide support to nurses in the field there can be increased collaboration between the various professionals. A nurse leader as role model can provide invaluable mentoring opportunities for her staff of nurses and other professionals.
I would hope to eventually become a nurse leader myself once I have had the years of experience. In order to achieve this goal, I would seek out a nurse leader to act as mentor to me. This nurse leader would need to demonstrate the roles highlighted earlier as these would be the makings of a skilled nurse leader. I would hope to gain the knowledge from this exemplary nurse leader. However before even becoming a nurse leader I can begin to put into practice the roles that are often assigned to nurse leaders. By accomplishing this task before I become a leader, I would be better equipped to manage the responsibility.
As a nurse leader I would advocate for my colleagues through standing up for and fighting for causes and changes I believe in. This would be done through contact with hospital administration. I would also begin to develop changes to procedures in order to ensure their efficiency. I would also engage in professional activities through contact with experienced nurses to determine which activities they found useful. I would also work with the nurse leader to develop professional activities which local nurses could engage in. Through attending these training opportunities I would receive the knowledge needed to ensure I was competent in my field. I would also read literature regarding issues and topics in my field. I would also ensure I was staying within my scope of practice through supervision with my assigned nurse leader. I would also begin taking on a leadership role before it has been given to me as it would demonstrate to my superiors that I was ready for the position of nurse leader. By becoming a leader I would also assist in shouldering the burden that is taken on by the nurse leader. Through taking on a leadership role I would naturally become a professional role model to others. This role model position would also occur through taking on new nursing recruits and teaching them how to accomplish these roles. Through accomplishing these responsibilities, I hope to have a long and fulfilling nursing career.
Andersen, C. A. F. (1999). Nursing student to nursing leader: The critical path to leadership development. Delmar Publishers.
Antrobus, S., & Kitson, A. (1999). Nursing leadership: influencing and shaping health policy and nursing practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 29(3), 746-753.
Laurent, C. L. (2000). A nursing theory for nursing leadership. Journal of Nursing Management, 8(2), 83-87.
Joel, L. A. (2009). Advanced practice nursing: Essentials for role development. FA Davis.