1. Morse, Kate J. RN, CCRN, CRNP, MSN

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As I reflected on nurse leadership and some of the exemplary leaders I've witnessed over the last 25 years, I realized that the quality of leadership wasn't defined by the role that they held. Nursing defines our leaders differently depending on where they are in the organization. We have bedside leaders, charge nurses, nursing unit directors, chief nurse executives, or vice presidents of nursing. Despite this differentiation, each one of these successful leaders has similar qualities, such as:

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* a commitment to patient safety


* a commitment to nursing excellence


* the desire to support professional growth and development


* a role model for other nurses


* clear honest communication.



Nursing leadership and the perception of power to change outcome varies greatly from institution to institution. Visibility and perception on the part of others that nursing has a role in leadership are extremely important. This is supported in the assessment of achievement for Magnet status. The American Nurses Credentialing Center in the Forces of Magnetism defines quality of nursing leadership as having knowledgeable, strong, risk-taking nurse leaders who follow a well-articulated, strategic, and visionary philosophy in the day-to-day operations of nursing services.1


This definition demonstrates the linking together of all nurse leaders whether they are at the bedside or in the corporate office. The implementation of this type of leadership is paramount for nurses to survive the uncertain healthcare system. There will continue to be challenging times ahead for nurses that require skillful leadership to navigate the changing landscape of the healthcare environment. Ongoing issues that need stalwart nursing leadership include:


* an aging nursing workforce


* recruitment and retention of nurses


* patient safety


* provision of care to the poor and vulnerable in our population


* reducing lateral violence in the workplace


* shrinking financial resources


* increasing acuity of illness in acute care facilities.



These issues and the leadership required to address them shouldn't belong to a few individuals. Nursing leadership is everyone's responsibility and an extension of our commitment to safe patient care, evidence-based practice, and improved patient outcomes. If we remain true to our overriding mission of patient care, we'll be leaders in changing the way healthcare is delivered during the next few decades.


Kate J. Morse, RN, CCRN, CRNP, MSN


Editor-in-Chief, Assistant Clinical Professor, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Tract Coordinator Critical Care Nurse Practitioner, Chester County Hospital West Chester, Pa.




1. American Nurses Credentialing Center. Announcing a new model for ANCC's Magnet Recognition Program. Available at: Accessed July 23, 2008. [Context Link]