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3 priorities for nurse leaders

June 1, 2015
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Three priorities for nurse leaders working in long-term care include finding ways to empower nurses as leaders, changing the care model and elevating the voice of the profession. So determined the 23 people attending the Nurse Leadership Summit hosted by the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination (AANAC) earlier this month.

The event included nurse leaders from non-profit and for-profit nursing homes and corporations with properties ranging in size from fewer than 100 beds to more than 200 beds, as well as researchers, academicians and executives from national nurse consulting firms. Additionally, the executive directors of three LTC nursing associations—AANAC, the American Association of Long Term Care Nursing and the National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care—joined the summit as observers. Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm McKinley Advisors facilitated the day-long meeting.

Comprehensive, cohesive support for nurse leaders is lacking, summit participants said, and that void is causing many to adopt a “survive ’til five” mentality. Additional challenges, they said, include:

  • Significant gaps among directors of nursing (DONs) in terms of their ability to lead, delegate and think strategically;
  • Role confusion by DONs and the larger caregiver community, leading many nurses to avoid assuming leadership responsibilities;
  • A lack of understanding around the role of DON, which has created a culture in which professional development support for nurse leaders, in terms of time and money, is sparse;
  • A regulatory and operating environment that puts the focus on meeting requirements rather than delivering quality care, hindering the leadership development of nurses; and
  • Operating in a profit-driven business environment that is sometimes at odds with a resident-centered care approach.

Nurses will play a critical role in addressing these key trends and priorities, attendees concluded.