Nursing leadership is a sought-after trait in healthcare today. Those with strong leadership capabilities can expect to be heavily involved in redefining the effective delivery of patient care in a rapidly changing healthcare landscape. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree introduces foundational leadership and managerial principles and builds nurses’ confidence and skill sets in this area.
Why Are Nurse Leaders Needed?
Given the aging Baby Boomer generation and the shift toward a progressively diverse population, projected healthcare trends indicate that nurses will be caring for more culturally and ethnically diverse, older, and chronically ill patients. Between the immense strain this will place on the healthcare system and the large numbers of experienced nurse leaders expected to retire over the next decade — as many as 80,000 per year through 2025, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Medical Care — there will be an increasing demand for nurses to step into vacant leadership roles.
Nurse leaders are also expected to be instrumental in restructuring how healthcare is delivered, especially in terms of meeting the growing needs of such a complex patient population. Skilled nurse leaders will be influential in the development of key healthcare policy reforms that help fulfill the “Triple Aim” of high quality care, improved patient outcomes and lowered costs.
How Does a BSN Contribute to Nurse Leadership?
BSN degree programs are designed to expand on key clinical knowledge and expertise as well as build leadership, managerial and organizational skills. The structure of these degree programs has been driven by recommendations from the Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report that was published in 2010 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), whose name has since changed to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).
Based on the likelihood that nurses will need to be prepared to treat a more diverse, older and chronically ill patient population, the report strongly encouraged employers, accrediting bodies, nursing associations and postsecondary institutions to facilitate educational pathways that would lead at least 80 percent of the nursing workforce to earn their BSN by 2020.
The IOM research indicated that the additional leadership skills nurses gain from a BSN curriculum would allow them to work closely with physicians and healthcare administrators in redesigning the healthcare system to better meet modern needs. This demonstration of leadership potential by BSN nurses has caused Magnet hospitals, known for their outstanding nursing standards and exceptional patient outcomes, to require all nurse leaders and managers to hold a BSN degree or higher.
The emergence of accredited online RN to BSN programs provides a flexible and convenient avenue for nurses already working in the field to advance their education and further develop these in-demand skill sets. Coursework emphasizes the importance of culturally competent care, disease prevention and risk reduction, and the combined use of critical thinking skills and evidence-based practice.
The curriculum promotes a commitment to lifelong learning as well, which positions BSN graduates to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in the future and move into other clinical, research or academic leadership roles.
In addition, the online RN to BSN program at La Salle University offers a dedicated course on the dynamics of leadership and management to help nurses prepare for success in these types of positions. This course investigates how socioeconomic, cultural and political factors influence nursing care across several healthcare settings and prepares nurses to navigate these issues, as well as create favorable organizational structures, reimbursement strategies and budgets.
Leadership principles are reinforced throughout the curriculum, and the streamlined timeline enables nurses to complete the program in as few as 10 months.
Leading Nursing Care
Nurse leadership is instrumental to the successful and efficient delivery of patient care. As the composition of the patient population changes and current nurse leaders retire or leave the workforce, the remaining vacancies will need to be filled by capable nurse leaders. A BSN provides nurses with a foundation from which to grow into leadership careers as well as the opportunity to be closely involved in the transformation of the healthcare system.
Learn more about the La Salle online RN to BSN program.