The study, of which McKay is a coauthor, assessed leadership and management competency in three leadership areas—the science (business management), the art (leading people), and the leader within (self-reflection)—as self-reported on the Nurse Manager Skills Inventory by 28 nurse managers at Community Hospital.
"It's a self-reported evaluation that the leader does, and they can see in what areas their deficits are," McKinney says. "Those are the ones they can focus on for professional development or finding a mentor that can help them in that area."
The majority of Community Hospital's nurse managers self-identified as less than competent in the financial management area.
To address this, a targeted experiential education module was developed to give nurse managers a better understanding of financial issues, such as the topics of expense forecasting and cost-benefit analysis.
"They understood the concept, but they had never practiced it themselves," McKinney says. "We did some experiential learning in the classroom setting with them on how to do a cost-benefit analysis—some of them had never done that before and some had—but as a group they were able to sit [together] and figure through some of that."
When the nurse managers retook the skills inventory after going through the module, their scores in the areas of unit department budget, creating a budget, monitoring a budget, and analyzing a budget increased from less than competent to competent.
Scores in the areas of understanding healthcare economics and policy, expense forecasting, concepts of capital budget, and concepts of cost-benefit analysis increased from novice to advanced beginner.
The nurse manager residency
Lancaster General Hospital, a 533-bed nonprofit hospital, part of Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine in Pennsylvania, has been ahead of the crowd in the way it develops nurse managers.
In 2006, the organization began its nurse manager residency program to better address succession planning and knowledge transfer from seasoned nurse managers to new nurse managers.
"If they don't learn how to be a good leader, and they're just managing the processes, then they [could] set their unit up to create an unhealthy work environment."
Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.