Nurse Leadership Academies: Preparing Nurses to Shape Health Care

Nurse leadership is a big buzzword these days, but it’s more than just a phrase. One of the eight recommendations in the Institute of Medicine’s 2014 “Future of Nursing” report specifically stated the need to “prepare and enable nurses to lead change and advance health.” As health care professionals on the front lines of the industry, nurses are uniquely positioned to understand how to best support optimal patient care and outcomes.  As leaders, their experience and knowledge can make them potentially invaluable in helping to shape the future of nursing and health care for the better.

Yet learning and practicing leadership skills and techniques sometimes requires more than the experiences in nurses’ everyday jobs and responsibilities can offer. Nursing leadership academies help fill that gap by providing opportunities to formally study leadership research and make a plan for applying them in their professional lives. 

Nursing leadership academies help to develop emerging nurse leaders by preparing them for positions where they can help influence strategies and policies. They do this by educating, mentoring, and coaching nurses to serve in leadership capacities not only in health care organizations (for example, on committees and boards) but also on government commissions, community boards, and even elected offices. 

Where to Find Nursing Leadership Academies

Nursing leadership academies are offered through national and regional nurse associations, nursing schools, and other nursing and health care organizations. They can vary widely in form and substance: some are  just a few days; others involve a months-long commitment. Some focus on general nursing leadership while others emphasize specific areas, such as nurse education, gerontology, or direct care.  A simple Internet search brings up many examples; nurses can also check with local or state nursing organizations for suggestions. 

Examples of topics that nurse leadership academies might explore include:

  • Leadership styles in nursing (and how to assess your own)
  • Nursing leadership theory
  • Conflict negotiation
  • Leveraging one’s personal strengths as a leader
  • Effective communication
  • Setting goals and plans for achieving them

Many academies use mentorship to groom nurses, encouraging emerging leaders to learn from and follow in the footsteps of those who have already ascended into influential roles. By presenting an example to follow and a living resource that can be called on, mentoring is a powerful tool for leadership development.

Nurse leadership academies are an important element of providing nurses with concrete skills and knowledge they can use to pursue positions of influence. By building on foundational leadership skills learned in programs like the online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing or online Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Saint Mary, nurses can be well-prepared to take charge and make a real difference in the lives of large groups of people.

To learn more about how to build a foundation for nurse leadership through the online nursing programs at University of Saint Mary, request more information or call us at 877-307-4915 to speak to an admissions advisor.