1. Hassmiller, Susan B. RN, PhD, FAAN

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Nurses' clinical duties routinely thrust them into leadership roles. In addition to providing direct patient care, nurses educate patients and families and act as liaisons to doctors, pharmacists, administrators, and many others in our increasingly complex health care system. On-the-job experience, however, is just one pathway to leadership. The question for every nurse, no matter the workplace or career stage, is this: Are you the best leader you can be?


Some nurses hone leadership skills by serving as supervisors, unit managers, or board members within their health care organizations, or by representing those organizations in their communities. Others pursue specialty certification or higher education, such as bachelor of nursing, master of nursing, and doctoral degrees. But opportunities to sharpen leadership skills exist outside these traditional pathways; the tough part is finding them and having the drive to take up the challenge.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsors a number of programs to develop nurse leaders and, by doing so, address broader nursing and health system issues, including workforce and quality-of-care initiatives whose success depends upon the retention of experienced nurses. The foundation has compiled the following list of nurse leadership programs supported by a range of organizations across the country.

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