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Q&A: Nurse Leaders on Affecting Outcomes Through Leadership, Part II

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, March 5, 2013

HLM: Let's move onto nurse leadership trends. What are you seeing?

Watland: I think there's a trend that we're going to be seeing again, that's quite concerning to me, is that we're going to be starting to see a nurse shortage again.

The pendulum swung from nurse shortage—at least here, where I am, in California—to having more than adequate numbers of nurses available to the point that new nurses coming out of school can't get jobs. And that trend as I'm reading about the aging population in nursing, that's going to shift.

Also what's going to be shifting is the nurse leadership positions that are going to be vacated because of this aging population in nursing. And I think we need to take that very seriously: How do we continue to support the pipeline for new nurses as they are coming into the profession? [Also,] making sure that we're helping people to get jobs and having standardized transition methods [so] people are ready to take clinical positions and to function at the bedside when they're getting out of school.

I think we need to be working with schools to do that. And I also think we need to be doing really good succession planning to help foster and help people to go into these nurse leadership positions. It's a difficult job, especially middle management; I think that's the most difficult job there is in the hospital, and to help people, number one, be attracted to that role and how do we do that? And also how to be help them be successful in that role?

Davis: Faculty shortage is a critical issue. In fact, I think that the community leadership around preparing for innovation, not just within your institution, but looking at innovation in nursing education. Our community just received a…grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on an innovative program to help nurses [move] more quickly from associate degree right into bachelor's degree programs.

How do you as a nurse leader interact with your state issues, your local community, issues in the school and provide support and leadership around the infrastructure that we need to be ready for these types of changes?

I think that being able to be agile and handle multiple concepts, work with diverse groups on particular challenges, and to be able to use some of the principles of innovation [is important].

How can we step over some issues and create some new solutions, whether it's internally within your care model or in your community? Also, I see the requirement to have a more disciplined practice in terms of understanding what required work is, helping our profession and others to stop doing things that don't add value to the patient care experience.

Using, as Judy was saying, evidence-based practice to really analyze and understand whether this something we need to be doing, can we stop doing this. Do we really need to focus on some different things in terms of providing services to patients?

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