Educated nurse leaders are essential to health care organizations, because they are able to adeptly apply their knowledge of holistic medicine and health care management. They demonstrate their leadership skills in coordinating teams of nurses who assume clinical responsibilities such as prescribing and administering treatments, handling patient admissions and discharges, diagnosing illnesses, and providing patients and their families with medical advice. While a registered nurse (RN) with moderate experience and education will likely be proficient in the clinical aspects of nursing, effectively leading an interdisciplinary team of nurses requires supplementing that practical clinical knowledge with a more advanced administrative skill set. By completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program, a nurse practitioner can acquire a working comprehension of the following competencies, each of which are vital to career advancement into leadership positions.
Analyzing and interpreting clinical outcomes
To improve the level of care within a hospital, nurse leaders must learn from previous clinical outcomes. This is why it is critical to promote the careful recording, analysis, and interpretation of patient data. To do so, nurse leaders must develop their ability to identify which clinical data can be used to improve quality care. Then, they must design a plan of action to efficiently obtain that information. To maximize the accuracy of the collected data, nurse leaders should focus on designing research protocols that are flexible, while also using their administrative skill set to ensure that nursing staff consistently comply with the plan. 
Creating and fostering a clear health care vision through effective communication
Nurses who are in leadership positions should consistently and outwardly convey confidence in their ability to provide quality care. This helps gain the trust and respect of their subordinates, who look to them for guidance. Nurse leaders should also be equipped with the ability to clearly communicate their vision, to ensure their employees understand the task at hand. For example, if a hospital is facing an unwarranted increase in patient complaints, an effective leader will respond with a well thought out plan. That may include making sure to highlight the root cause of the issue, and then acting to solve it by articulating a well-defined strategy for exactly how the facility can improve patient experiences. 
Building and managing strong health care teams
If a hospital has a shortage of skilled nurses, especially during times of peak medical need, the quality of care that is delivered is likely to be diminished. This in turn will likely result in a drop in patient satisfaction. To prevent this, nurse executives should be skilled at determining the status and needs of their health care team. If there is a lack of proper staffing, the nurse executive should provide all key information and help lead the human resources team toward finding and hiring suitable candidates. Apart from hiring new talent, nurse leaders can also fill workforce needs by facilitating educational classes, workshops, and hands-on training that would qualify current team members to take on new responsibilities.
Behavior and conflict management
As with any large workforce, conflicts between colleagues are never entirely avoidable. In medicine, this behavior is especially problematic because it may adversely impact the quality of care being administered. Therefore, it is the responsibility of a skilled nurse leader to prevent and mitigate employee conflicts. To effectively manage employees, a nurse leader should be able to clearly promote a code of ethics that defines the attitudes and behaviors that are appropriate for hospital staff. An effectual nurse leader should also be capable of implementing a system of policies that encourages positive behavior, and penalizes negative actions.
Understanding how health care businesses effectively deliver quality health care
In the health care industry, the services offered often greatly impact the health, happiness and very lives of customers (i.e., patients). This makes ensuring top quality services and programs critically important. An effective administrative strategy enables providers to adapt to new trends and embrace advancements in the health care industry. To spearhead or manage these strategies, nurse executives must understand the complexities of the health care business, such as how insurance companies interact with health care businesses, and how big data can be used to improve health care techniques. 
Leading discussions about patient feedback to improve health outcomes
Conversations with patients represent an excellent method for discovering and identifying problems that may exist within a health care organization. The data that is collected can enable nurse executives to adjust their operational strategy and help offer patients a better experience in the future. Through creativity and administrative control, nurse leaders can gather this data in highly effective ways. They may implement surveys for measuring patient satisfaction, or use social media to directly connect with patients and encourage them to provide constructive feedback about their experience.
Nurse executives play a pivotal role in the success of their respective health care organizations. They are often the driving force behind diverse teams of nurses who thrive through clear direction, mentorship, and motivation. Providing this level of guidance demands a personal leadership style based on proven leadership competencies. Registered nurses who seek to develop their competencies and leadership style, should consider completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice program.
Health care is seeing an industry-wide demand for advanced practice nurses trained at the doctoral level due to the changing landscape, drive for improved patient outcomes, and a shortage of qualified nurses. If you’re an RN with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and ready to take your career to a higher level, the Regis College’s BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice online program can prepare you for advanced nursing practice.