Leadership is a vital component of any organization as it helps in providing the management function which directs the available fiscal, physical, and human resources towards achieving strategic goals with the utmost efficiency. Leaders are individuals who have the ability to inspire, motivate, guide, and direct people in an organization to fulfill its mission and purpose. Leadership offers clarity, organization, and direction to a group of people who would otherwise take different routes and approaches to what they individually see as the best outcome. In healthcare, leadership is vital for managing the complexities of the health organization, diverse interdisciplinary teams, and clinical decision-making. Hargett et al. (2017) define healthcare leadership as “the ability to effectively and ethically influence others for the benefit of individual patients and populations” (p.69). Therefore, leadership competencies and strategies for effective leadership are constantly studied in the industry, and virtually every nurse or clinician is encouraged to take on leadership roles within their respective capacities. This paper investigates the characteristics of effective transformational leaders and evaluates the QSEN initiative in addressing competencies that are meant to promote future nurse leadership.
Efficacy in Nursing Leadership
Transformational leadership is an approach to leading that seeks to implement change in individuals, organizations, or society. Transformational leaders work closely with their followers, inspiring and motivating them to enhance their morale and performance to then work together as a common group to solve critical issues and institute change. A leader can use the mechanisms of being a role model, relating individual self-identity to the collective identity of the organization, and promoting accountability (Sfantou et al., 2017). In simple terms, transformational leaders focus on creating relationships and motivation among staff, building respect and communication through a shared vision.
In the journey of becoming a transformational leader, one can also adopt the characteristics of effective leaders. Porter et al. (2021) suggest that displaying care and understanding towards others is a key characteristic, and that fits perfectly for transformational leadership, as building relationships centers around trust and emotional quotation of demonstrating empathy. Furthermore, effective leaders seek to motivate and empower others, the basis of transformational leadership that focuses on driving people, not results. In transformational leadership, the mindset focuses on growth and collective accountability for improvement.
Significance of the QSEN Initiative
Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) is an educational initiative aimed at preparing nurses with the competencies established by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) as the basis of effective and high qualify nursing patient care. These competencies commonly provide the backbone to quality and safety in healthcare provision, with each one identified with certain knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to achieve the mastery needed (Porter et al., 2021).
- Patient-centered care – involves the patient in clinical decisions and recognizing their autonomy and control over their health, so patients should be respected and be a partner in their own treatment.
- Teamwork and collaboration – clinical care revolves around teams, particularly interdisciplinary ones, working together to provide the best course of treatment for the patient and find solutions to challenging cases, so nurses have to function effectively with group work.
- Evidence-based practice – integrating the latest literature recommendations and guidelines into practice based on up-to-date research, nurses are expected to continuously learn, conduct their own research, and advocate for improved policy based on evidence and data.
- Quality improvement – nurses strive to improve quality by monitoring data and using appropriate frameworks to design, test, and implement processes that improve the quality and safety of healthcare systems.
- Safety – nurses should always strive to minimize risk to patients and providers through their actions as well as system effectiveness, indicating that one should pay attention to factors and processes that may need improvement in safety.
- Informatics – nurses are expected to have the basic knowledge of technology and its role in healthcare, using it to manage data, communication, support decision-making, and other key elements (Porter et al., 2021).
Application of QSEN
One of the competencies which are taught is the foundation of care but seems to be often overlooked is patient-centered care. Many providers and clinicians approach the patient with the assumption that they lack understanding about their condition, lifestyle, and medication, so they are treated with some level of patronization. While it may be true that a medical professional has more knowledge about these medical components, it is critical to respect and involve the patient directly in their treatment. If necessary, patient education strategies exist. This approach has two outcomes; first, patient satisfaction increases as they feel respected and more in control of the situation. Furthermore, if a patient has a greater understanding of their condition, they are more likely to adhere to treatment as the clinician prescribes, making the necessary adjustments because they are invested in treating themselves (Paterick et al., 2017). Therefore, when Porter et al. (2021) indicate that patient-centered care is based on respecting a patient’s preferences, values, and needs, it largely emphasizes the need for communication with the patient. Only through direct communication can a clinician engage with the patient to determine their preferences and values, and together build a partnership around providing the care they need with respect to these.
This paper examined the impact of transformational leadership as a leadership type that motivates and empowers followers, as well as the QSEN educational competencies necessary to produce professional and effective nurses of the future. Examining these elements indicates the growing role of nurses in the healthcare system, as future leaders emerge, and the expanding capabilities and responsibilities provided to nurses. That is why initiatives such as QSEN are crucial; as the demands on nurses grow, it is critical they have the competencies to function effectively and be accountable for the safety and quality of care.
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