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Nurse Leadership

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Nurse leadership is ACN's Strategic Focus


Why do nurses need leadership skills?

Play the short video and read the Leadership White Paper to find out why.

Nurses with strong leadership skills enhance health care and aged care for all Australians.

Australia’s health care and aged care systems face a number of complex challenges. Providing health and aged care services to meet the future needs of Australia’s population will require new, effective and efficient models of care, and nurses at all levels need leadership skills so they can play a vital role in the development of these new care models.

Leadership skills in any occupation drive change. But in the nursing profession, leadership skills are vital to patient care and advocacy, regardless of your title or position. Nurses with leadership skills are change makers.   

Why?  Because nurses have an intimate knowledge of the political, economic and organisational barriers to excellent healthcare, and can inspire and motivate others to maintain and improve patient outcomes. Leadership skills play a critical role in maintaining the productivity and cost-effectiveness of nursing and midwifery services, aged care services and health services as a whole. 

Nurse leaders are found at all levels of the health care and aged care systems – from the ward to the board, in the lecture room, and in government and executive positions. They ensure effective health outcomes by providing informed and experienced perspectives and inspiring others. 

Nurses and midwives make strategic contributions to health care policy, show clinical leadership and manage organisational culture and structure. They have a strong grasp of the enablers, constraints and challenges of effective service development in the Australian health and aged care environment. Ensuring that health care models and aged care services are responsive, sustainable and meet the needs of all Australians requires nurses with the right clinical, academic, management and leadership skills to shape policy and implement effective, nurse-led models of care.

There is a difference between a nurse leader and a nurse manager.

For most people and professions,the concept of a leader is related to their job title. But a leader does not have to be in a formal management position and within the nursing profession, nurse leadership does not equal nurse management.The qualities and attributes of a good nurse manager are significantly different to those needed to be a good leader.

A nurse manager has an important responsibility for coordinating all the aspects of care delivery; however, a nurse leader does not have to be in a management role in order to have vision and initiate change. A nurse leader drives organisational change in order to create a better workplace and better patient outcomes. If you're in a leadership role with management responsibilities, it goes without saying that you need to be a good manager and a good leader, so that health care is effectively provided to patients and your workplace culture is also healthy.

The ability to lead effectively in a management position is based on a number of key skills - strategic thinking ability, decision making, problem solving, organisation, planning and having a vision of where you want to be. If you are not in a management position, the ability to show leadership may require a different set of personal qualities, skills and attitude including confidence, commitment, conviction, communication and courage.

If you are not in a management position, you still have an important contribution to make and you too can lead patient advocacy and provide nurse-led solutions as a result of your experiences gained during your professional practice. It's about having the confidence to express your ideas and point of view and having the knowledge, passion, expertise, commitment and skill to inspire others to share your vision.