In the emerging world of healthcare, leaders are tasked to reform attitudes and systems to keep up with the constant changes. Across the United States one of the most common problems in hospitals is nursing understaffing. This leads to a multitude of problems including medical errors, falls, increase in hospital acquired infections, staff burnout and increased absenteeism. Nurse leaders must manage these issues while ensuring quality patient care. Nurses who have Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) can make changes to alleviate shortages in staffing by getting involved in healthcare policies. A DNP leader is adequately prepared to meet the foundational competencies of organization and systems leadership for quality improvement and systems thinking as well as advocacy in health care.
I recently read a book The Art of Caring Leadership: How leading with heart uplifts teams and organizations by Younger Heather (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2021). This book is available as an e-book, kindle edition and on paperback. The ISBN is 978-1-5230-9214-7 and it costs up to 12 dollars depending on the version selected. Younger is known for being an employee advocate and has done a lot of research all over the world. She has interviewed leaders and obtained employees feedback and has written this book for anyone who perceives themselves as a leader.
A good leader needs to engage his followers to achieve their highest potential. Caring is a natural tendency that can bolster well-being in any environment. Employees who are consistently cared for are more likely to pay more attention to the work that they do. Engaging the followers promotes self fulfilment and productivity in any organization. Employees’ zest to reduce costs and increase focus or meet customer needs and be a good teammate is exponentially higher if they feel cared for by those who lead them (Younger, 2021). Engagement shows that a leader cares about value exchange and mutual growth. Caring leaders create a listening culture that is bidirectional, responsive, and supportive (Younger, 2021). Forging strong relationships and promoting employees personal growth can lead to team and organizational growth. A caring leader is accessible and by so doing promotes communication within the team.
Caring leadership is taking daily actions in ways that show concern and kindness to those that are lead (Younger, 2021). Acknowledging concerns, addressing issues and rewarding good work can bolster morale and have a significant effect on any business. Many times, without our knowing, those we lead are depressed, anxious, and lonely, but when we show them appreciation, they know that they are important in our life (Younger, 2021). It is important for a caring leader to express a connection with his followers through actions as by so doing the followers will feel they matter.
A good leader leads by example. Leaders set the tone for their teams and organizations (Younger, 2021). Leaders are constantly being watched whether they are aware of it or not and followers will always emulate the leader. Anyone seeking to become a caring leader must first have an awareness that they need to change and a desire to do the work required to change (Younger, 2021). Leaders must invest in their own well-being to become the best version of themselves in order to inspire others. Caring leadership is more art than science, because only you can determine the different hues of your behaviors (Younger, 2021). As a DNP leader we need to be accountable to ourselves, our employees, patients, organization and the community. DNP leaders possess key traits to affect change within organizations, state and national policy development.
The DNP degree is ideal for nurse leaders and helps one stay at the forefront of front care. As a leader one can help improve patient outcomes and improve health care systems. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) outlines the core competencies for all nurses with a DNP degree (AACN, 2006). The AACN outlines DNP Essential II as a core competency outlined as: Organizational and Systems Leadership for Quality Improvement and Systems Thinking. The AACN explains that graduates must be skilled in working within organizational and policy arenas and in the actual provision of patient care by themselves and/or (AACN, 2006).
American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2006). The Essentials of Doctoral Education for
Advanced Nursing Practice. Washington D.C.
Younger, Heather R. The Art of caring leadership: How leading with heart uplifts teams and
organizations. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2021.
By Zelluyah Gaitho APRN, Adult and Gerontology Primary Care NP-BC, PMHNP-BC, Eastern Kentucky University DNP Student.