Leadership Skills for Nurse Managers: Foster Collaboration

Nurse managers have contact with nearly every department in the hospital. They are the liaison between staff nurses and upper management. They must also coordinate activities having to do with clinical nursing practice, ethics, finance and budgeting, staffing models, patient safety, supply chain management, and more. It’s a lot to handle. And the nurse managers who can make this all run smoothly have probably mastered the art of collaboration. They can bridge the gaps between disparate departments that have traditionally been set up in silos. They’re able to gain access to the resources they need and influence those department heads that can further their vision.

The process of creating a more collaborative workplace is an ongoing journey for nurse managers. They will need to have excellent conflict resolution skills. It’s inevitable that collaborating parties will come into conflict, as they try to balance competing agendas and potential conflicts of interest. Each person in a collaborative transaction brings a set of biases, values, and assumptions to the table, and an effective nurse leader will know how to remain flexible in light of these divergent points of view.

Research has validated the benefits to patients when providers work collaboratively. According to an article published in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, numerous studies have demonstrated that the benefits of collaboration include: improved patient outcomes, reduced lengths of stay, cost savings, increased nursing job satisfaction, and increased staff retention.

Today’s emphasis on multi-disciplinary care teams means staff nurses must work more closely with other healthcare professionals. Nurse managers are in a pivotal position to elevate nursing practice by creating a hospital environment where nurse-physician collaboration is the expected norm. They must communicate this vision of collaboration both to staff nurses and physicians, and build self-confidence among nurses who may feel intimidated by the shift to more collaborative care.

Why is this so important? Because the new focus on nurse-physician collaboration is likely to improve the quality of patient care, increase efficiency in care delivery, and create satisfying new roles for staff nurses. Both doctors and nurses have information about their patient that the other needs, in order to provide holistic care.

Education is the key to gaining respect across all disciplines. In its landmark report, “The Future of Nursing,” the Institute of Medicine (IOM) discusses the importance of nurses having more educational parity with other members of the healthcare team. Collaboration is more likely to occur when staff nurses and nurse leaders have more equality with other health care professionals – physicians, pharmacists, social workers, physical therapists, etc. – that are educated at the graduate and post-graduate level.

Effective leaders know this, and tend to be lifelong learners, furthering their education in any way possible – from pursuing a masters or doctorate level degree, to taking workshops, or gaining certificates in areas of interest. What’s more, they encourage higher education among their staff nurses, so they are prepared to work collaboratively.

American Sentinel’s online MSN, Management and Organizational Leadership degree is designed for experienced nurse professional who seek to develop both management and leadership skills.