Nursing is among the most important professions in western society. It’s also in a state of crisis. People are leaving their nursing jobs at an unprecedented rate, and hospitals everywhere are having an extremely difficult time replacing them.
Understaffed hospitals can be disastrous at the societal level, and dangerous for individual patients everywhere who aren’t getting the level of care they require. Good nursing leadership can help stave off this crisis.
In this article, we look at the societal impact of a high-quality nurse leader.
A Mindful View Of Healthcare
Nursing ethical standards have been the recipient of no small degree of attention since the start of the pandemic. As the world collectively experienced a health crisis, nurses were there on the front lines, putting their own health on the line to treat others.
Almost 90% of people agree that nursing ethics are good or very good. What does this mean on the societal level, in the context of nurse leadership?
Ideally, nursing leadership should be able to assume a mindful view of public health in a way that takes into account social and societal factors that contribute to different patient outcomes amongst various racial and socio-economic demographics.
In other words, a quality nurse leader might ask, why do some patient groups do better than others, and what can be done about it?
Mindfulness alone is not enough to reshape healthcare. However, on the patient-nurse level, it can have a significant impact on individual outcomes. Nurses who understand and are sympathetic to the background struggles of individual patients are better positioned to reach them on a personal level.
Patients may be more inclined to share the personal or socio-economic factors that contributed to their health condition in the first place—an invaluable factor that can mean the difference between good and bad patient outcomes.
Trust between nurses and their patients is at the bedrock of healthcare. Nurse leadership that understands public health at the social level is well-positioned to build up that trust, and use it to improve patient outcomes.
Better Preventative Care
When people think of nurses they often imagine sterile hospital rooms, a sick person, and an attentive healthcare professional, there at their bedside doing everything they can to help the patient feel better. Floor nurses are an invaluable asset to the healthcare system. However, they are far from all that the profession has to offer.
When a patient has been admitted to the hospital, more often than not the nurse’s job is to put out fires and get them on the recovery path. In other contexts, however, such as in a doctor’s office or health clinic, nurse leadership is in a position to provide preventative care.
Nurse leadership can have a significant impact on social wellness simply by making good recommendations that have a high impact on public health. For example:
- Vaccines: Vaccine hesitancy has been a social health factor for decades but never more so than in the last several years. Many patients will come to their healthcare professionals with questions about vaccines and the potential negative impacts they could have on their health.
High-quality nurse leadership is well-positioned to empathetically evaluate these concerns, answer patients’ questions, and, hopefully, steer them in a direction that has the best impact on public health.
- Diet: Before Covid-19 reared its ugly head, diet was among the most significant threats to health and wellbeing in the United States. Obesity rates are extremely high, even among children, resulting in diabetes, heart disease, joint pain, and other ailments that are directly impacted by bad eating habits. Good nursing leadership can make hollistic recommendations for patients that can help them achieve specific health-related goals. For example, they may be able to answer questions patients with Type 2 diabetes have about what they should eat to regulate their blood sugar levels.
Historically, questions of this kind have been fielded primarily by doctors. However, as the healthcare system has become increasingly more crowded, nurses have begun to step up more and more in this advisory capacity. Nurse practitioners are particularly positioned to operate in much the same way that general caregivers have in the past.
- Exercise: In that same vein of thinking, nurses may also provide patient recommendations for exercise and other lifestyle factors that can have a significant impact on public health.
High-quality preventive care not only improves health at the individual level but is also vital for the healthcare system as a whole. When fewer people are getting sick hospitals have more resources, and healthcare professionals can apply more of their time and attention to each case.
Better Experiences for Other Nurses
It’s not hard to imagine why there is a nursing shortage going on right now. Hours are long, often overnight. The work is extremely difficult both physically and emotionally, and for all that compensation isn’t as competitive as it should be. Many nurses find that they are paid better moving into cosmetic fields such as hair removal than they are working at patients’ bedsides.
Throw in the risk of conracting an illness like Covid-19 and it becomes easy to imagine why many nurses are now rethinking their career paths. Good nursing leadership can help stave off the mass nursing exodus. This can be accomplished through:
- An Emphasis on Safety Culture: Many nurses are tired of feeling like their own safety is inconsequential. Between verbal and physical abuse from patients, and risks of infection that naturally occur in the hospital setting, nursing comes with a degree of personal risk many may not consider when they take the job.
Effective nursing leadership will not only be able to recognize these risks, but also establish a work culture that is designed to navigate them.
- Better Organizational Skills: There are now many scheduling and communicative technologies on the market designed to make it easier than ever to set up schedules for nurses and coordinate communication. Effective nursing leadership can couple these technologies with their preexisting understanding of shift management to create schedules that lessen the workload and make shifts at least marginally more manageable.
- An Empathetic Ear: Finally, good nursing leadership will also simply be there to listen to and empathize with the concerns of the staff they are overseeing. While listing to problems doesn’t necessarily solve them, it can go a long way towards helping nurses feel seen. This, in turn, can reduce burnout, improve workplace satisfaction, and potentially reduce turnover.
Nurses need good nurses just as much as the rest of the world does. Effective nursing leadership is able to create a good environment for the staff they oversee. This is critical helping the United States manage and end its nursing crisis.