Becoming a nurse leader can lead to a fulfilling career

The demand for nurses has increased in the last few years. A few reasons point to nurses aging out of the profession, and the global pandemic that placed pressure on healthcare systems around the world, not just in the US. Not only is there a need for more nurses, but the nursing profession has expanded as well. Nurses can work in schools, homes, in the travel industry, and in psychiatric hospitals, among several other places.

Today’s nurses might also find there are many opportunities to advance in the profession. Nursing administration provides nurses who want to be more involved with shaping healthcare to work in positions that keep them on the floor in more executive management positions. Some of the roles nurse leaders are involved in as healthcare providers include:

  • Clinical nurse leader who works on the ward and supervises other nurses.
  • Director of nursing who supervises teams of nurses and oversees strategies that govern nursing departments.
  • Chief nursing officer who holds the highest position in the healthcare organization, managing nursing staff, policies, procedures and staff development.
  • Healthcare administrators serve in a non-clinical role.

Degrees required to become a nurse leader

Many nurses start their careers after obtaining an associate degree and getting the requisite credentials. By the time a nursing professional has decided to move into leadership positions of this kind, they have achieved at minimum a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and are licensed registered nurses. Depending on the healthcare organization, a nurse leader might have to obtain an advanced degree, for example, a master’s or doctorate in nursing. For positions in executive leadership, a doctorate is required in many cases.

Fortunately, today’s nursing professionals who want to advance their careers within the profession pursue degrees through online programs. These programs allow the nursing professional to work while they are in school, while at the same time gaining other benefits such as being able to transfer academic knowledge to skills at work. The convenience and flexibility of these programs make it feasible to attend a program and complete it in a reasonable amount of time. Baylor University Online, for instance, offers a doctorate that allows aspiring nurse leaders to work in positions such as vice president of nursing, chief nursing officer, and chief nursing executive, among others, while remaining employed.

Nurse leader rewards

Nurse leadership offers nurses numerous tangible rewards. For one, as stated previously, nursing is expanding rapidly, and within this field, roles for nurse leaders are growing. The percentage of nurse leader-related positions is expected to continue to grow in the next five years. Also, the salaries are great for mid-career professionals who want to ascend the nurse management ladder. In 2022, the salary for nursing executives was over $100,000. However, becoming a nurse leader also comes with other benefits.

Mentoring opportunities

Nurse leaders have the unique opportunity of mentoring others. Through this mentorship, they can pass on invaluable professional and life lessons to others who also aspire to move into nursing leadership. This can also be the opportunity to nurture nurses who are struggling in the profession or a chance to pass on best practices to those entering the field. Ultimately, becoming a nurse leader allows professionals to share themselves with others in the workplace.

Conflict resolution 

Healthcare settings can be fast-paced, energetic environments because of the many events that can take place during the day. Because of this volatility, conflict is a part of nursing. Those who enter this profession gain experience with resolving conflict in ways that result in positive impacts for those they supervise. These conflict resolution skills can be used to create a supportive environment for healthcare providers, which improves patient care.

Confidence-building career

As a leader, the professional supervises whole departments, which means directing policy and procedure for other nurses, and hopefully creating positive outcomes for patients. These daily experiences, in addition to their educational credentials and past working experiences, help build confidence in nurses who decide to become leaders.

Team building

Nurse leaders play a role in building a strong foundation for healthcare organizations through team building. By facilitating collaboration among the nurses they supervise, they create cohesive teams that are the backbone of the work that happens in the department or ward. In tough times, cohesiveness will get staff members to work with one another cooperatively and respect each other’s views, and the nurse leader plays a role in creating the environment for this type of support.

Problem-solving skills

Nurse leaders learn to become problem solvers. Using the education they have obtained and the skills they possess, nurse leaders are required daily to tackle some of the most pressing issues that face healthcare providers. Because they are constantly solving problems to address the needs of their staff, their jobs are never dull. You can walk into your job as a nurse leader with the understanding that each day will be very different from the next.

Final words

Work is a part of life. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat,” but spending eight-plus hours at a job that is not fulfilling is wasting opportunities to work in a field that offers nursing professionals job satisfaction.

So, why not find a position that offers a fulfilling career? As nurses, caring for patients, and seeing the positive outcomes that happen as a result, are some of the many rewards nurses receive daily. Fortunately, several educational programs prepare mid-career professionals to move into nursing leadership.

Nurse leaders can effect change in the healthcare community on another level. In this role, your job can take you anywhere, from supervising nurses on the floor of a healthcare center or hospital to behind the scenes in nursing administration. Regardless of the role the nurse leader fills, they are given opportunities to participate in healthcare and drive change that creates nurturing, effective, and thriving healthcare communities.

Truett Jones

The author Truett Jones