Medical News Today Blog

Things Every Aspiring Nurse Leader Should Know

Image default

Nursing is fiercely competitive, with above 4 million registered nurses in the USA. There is no room for slack in such a fast-paced and high-stakes environment. Every decision and action can mean the difference between life and death for patients. This huge responsibility is why aspiring nurse leaders must be highly skilled and efficient. A nurse leader requires unique skillsets and qualities beyond providing excellent care.

It demands the ability to lead, inspire, and make critical decisions impacting patients and the entire healthcare team. This article will explore what every aspiring nurse leader, like yourself, should know to excel in this vital role.

Education and Career Development opportunities

Awareness of education and career development prospects will help your professional growth, career advancement, and expanded scope of practice. By staying informed of the following opportunities, you can continuously improve your skills and advance your career to deliver high-quality care to patients.

Career advancement programs

To get a terminal degree in nursing, you can apply for BSN to DNP programs. These programs cater to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree-holding registered nurses (RNs). A DNP curriculum will prepare you for leadership by teaching nursing administration, organization management, and health policy courses.

How long will a DNP take? The American Association of Colleges of Nursing gauges 3-5 years of full-time study. However, different kinds of part-time BSN to DNP programs, like hybrid or online, can keep it short to 40 months. Accelerated BSN to DNP programs provide a streamlined pathway. Through this fast-paced program, you build upon existing nursing knowledge and simultaneously obtain a masters-level and doctorate-level schooling.

Many universities, like Maryville, know that nurses like you don’t have the time to be full-time students, so they offer accelerated BSN to DNP programs online. These programs allow nurses to study faster without the risk of burnout. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that while an accelerated BSN to DNP program provides an expedited path to obtaining a DNP degree, you should only pursue this high-intensity program if you are motivated enough to juggle educational and clinical demands.

Professional organizations and resources

Professional organizations and resources are invaluable for nurse leaders like you. They provide a wealth of support, networking opportunities, and valuable resources that advance your career. Take The American Nurses Association, for example. It is a professional platform for nurse leaders to connect with peers, share experiences, and gain insights into best practices. These organizations host conferences, webinars, and networking events where you can learn from renowned experts and discuss emerging trends in healthcare leadership.

Imagine being part of a community of nurse leaders who share your passion for excellence in healthcare. You can advocate healthcare needs at a national level. Make your voice heard by actively engaging in policy discussions. Influence the healthcare legislation, and shape nursing’s future.

Leadership certification programs

Pursuing leadership certification programs provides evidence for your leadership skills as a nurse leader. These programs provide you with specialized knowledge and skills and put a shining star on your nursing prospects. Some popular leadership certification programs you can explore are:

  1. Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC or NEA-BC): These certificates develop nurse leaders in executive roles. They demonstrate your competence in managing healthcare organizations, overseeing operations, and leading teams.
  2. Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML): This is ideal for nurse leaders in managerial roles. Holding this certification demonstrates your commitment to quality patient care and your ability to navigate complex healthcare environments.
  3. Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP): This credential recognizes your executive-level nursing practice, financial management, and healthcare innovation knowledge.

The best part about these certificates is that you can get them without investing much time. You can get these as you learn and fulfill your clinic hours. Once you receive certifications from prominent organizations, you will validate your image as a high-quality leader.

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Formal positions do not define leadership. Rather, you can demonstrate leadership qualities regardless of your rank as a nurse. You can determine whether or not you’re leadership material through the following list containing some essential skills and qualities.

Empowering leader

An empowering leader is someone who promotes employee development. This quality involves investing in the knowledge and skills of employees through training, mentorship, and opportunities for growth. When you prioritize employee development, you demonstrate dedication to your team’s success, creating well-trained nurses who deliver optimal patient care without getting intimidated.


By being service-oriented, you can recognize and anticipate people’s needs while being eager to help. Since nursing is all about providing service to people, this is an essential skill. When you are happy to help, your team can adopt your perspective and stay motivated, reducing labor turnover. A service-oriented approach gives you the social awareness to create a comfortable environment that soothes your patients and your team.

Technologically proficient

Technological proficiency means being skilled in using technology and digital tools. Technology is significant in nursing leadership in today’s fast-paced healthcare world. As a nurse leader, you must be familiar with electronic health records (EHRs), data analytics, and telehealth.

Conflict-resolution skills

Strong conflict resolution skills allow you to address conflicts promptly and prevent them from worsening. For example, suppose there is a disagreement about patient assignments among your team. In that case, you can use your conflict resolution skills to listen to everyone’s concerns, facilitate a discussion, and find a fair solution that considers the workload and abilities of each nurse.

Career Advice

Regarding career advice for nurses, the insights and experiences shared by fellow nurses can be invaluable. Here are some essential tips and advice from nurses who have climbed the career ladder:

Seek diverse experiences

Expand your nursing experience by working in different specialties or healthcare settings. Exposure to diverse patient populations, medical conditions, and healthcare teams will enhance your skills and broaden your perspectives.

Take care of yourself

Prioritize self-care to prevent burnout and maintain your overall well-being. Find a healthy work-life balance, engage in activities that bring you joy, and practice self-care techniques such as exercise, mindfulness, and stress management.

Think positive

Challenges are bound to arise in nursing, and you should be careful about expressing your frustrations. While it’s natural to feel overwhelmed sometimes, it’s crucial to consider your emotions’ impact on colleagues, patients, and others. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, practicing positive thinking can be immensely beneficial.


Aspiring nurse leaders should prioritize their personal and professional growth. How can you expect the best performance from others if you’re not leading by example? Remember, as a nurse leader, you have the power to inspire positive change, improve patient care, and shape the future of healthcare.