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As mentors, nurses take the lead

Monday August 11, 2014
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Susan Hassmiller, RN
Leaders are made, not born, according to legendary Green Bay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi. That holds true in nursing as much as football, and today’s nurse leaders are grooming the next generation of managers.

“Nursing cannot move forward without leadership,” said Beverly Malone, RN, PhD, FAAN, CEO, National League for Nursing. “We need the next generation, not just behind us, but beside us.”

Malone advises nurses never to lose sight of their goal — delivering optimal patient care.

“Our goal is excellent patient care, and the nurse manager is key to achieving this,” said Nancy Rodenhausen, RN, MS, vice president of nursing and patient care services operations at NYU Langone Medical Center, Manhattan. “For employee satisfaction and to attract the best talent, NYU Langone is committed to helping its nurses realize their career goals.”


Launette Woolforde, RN
Develop from the start

Many nurse leaders support and encourage leadership skills at the staff nurse level. “We are continually looking at our staff nurses and put them in a charge role and identify people with leadership abilities,” Rodenhausen said.

Trish O’Keefe, RN, PhD, CNO at Morristown (N.J.) Medical Center, said the shared governance model helps nurses learn to facilitate meetings and hone leadership skills. Nurse managers at Morristown also serve as coaches, while nurses and nurse managers use peer review to identify leadership skills, goals and expectations.

Winthrop-University Hospital, Mineola, N.Y., has established a formal succession-planning program. Each manager or higher level nurse identifies and grooms a nurse or two to step into that role, said Donna Caccavale, RN, BSN, MBA, CIC, NEA-BC, director of nursing, critical care.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Manhattan, annually reviews succession plans for managers to executives. That may include a lateral move, perhaps to a bigger unit, to gain more experience. “The discussions focus on who is ready to be promoted and to what position, and if not ready, what programs do we need to make sure they are exposed to,” said Wilhelmina Manzano, RN, MA, NEA-BC, senior vice president and CNO. “It’s important to invest in people. We have to make sure people at all levels remain competent, relevant and support their staff.”

North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y., has established a Climb the Clinical Ladder campaign to solidify a succession plan starting with the staff nurse.

“We’re convinced patient experience and staff satisfaction are most significantly impacted by the strength of our leadership,” said Launette Woolforde, RN-BC, PhD, DNP, senior administrative director for patient care services, nursing education and professional development, research and professional practice at North Shore-LIJ.


Wilhelmina Manzano, RN
Support education

“Managers make or break care delivery,” said Susan Hassmiller, RN, PhD, FAAN, who serves as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation senior adviser for nursing in Princeton, N.J. “You have to invest in good managers, and they have to go on with their education.”

Hassmiller said more formal education provides nurses with teamwork, negotiation and other skills to give them equal footing with colleagues from other disciplines.

NYU Langone encourages continued education and provides tuition assistance and flexibility for nurses to pursue a master’s degree in nursing administration or other appropriate programs. The hospital’s organizational development and learning department offers courses in everything from budgeting to project management, which are open to managers and aspiring nurse leaders, according to Rodenhausen.

NewYork-Presbyterian has partnered with universities to offer master’s-level classes at the hospital to make it easier to return to school for formal education. It also offers an 18-month Building Tomorrow’s Leadership program to develop employees’ skills while receiving mentoring from senior leaders as they work on a project, Manzano said.

Woolforde started the yearlong Nurse Leadership Academy at North Shore-LIJ for nurses aspiring to become leaders, managers, directors and executive nurses. It includes strategic planning, core competencies and a capstone project focused on how to affect change.

“You can never stop learning,” said Jaccel Kouns, RN, MS, NEA-BC, FACHE, vice president and executive director of Montefiore Mount Vernon (N.Y.) Hospital. For nurses resistant to returning to college, “I encourage nurses to attend professional organizations and learn from other members. Certification is very important and shows you are serious about your education and an expert in something.”


Jaccel Kouns, RN
Mentor new leaders

“Mentorship is the mother ship of leadership development,” Malone said. “You need a multitude of mentors.”

Several leaders, including a physician and a senior executive, mentored Kouns for her current role. Now she mentors others and will provide opportunities for them to work with colleagues in the hospital to foster collaboration and gain experience.
NewYork-Presbyterian encourages cross-discipline mentoring.

Nurse managers at Winthrop meet weekly with the director to discuss new policies and initiatives and handle discipline issues, such as clocking in late, within its just-culture philosophy. They share ideas and provide feedback.

“Anytime we have a change, we look at it as a mentoring opportunity for nurse managers,” Caccavale said. “They learn in real time from other nurse managers.”
When NYU Langone identifies a nurse ready to become a manager, it pairs that nurse with an experienced preceptor.

When nurse executives and directors model leadership and empower nurses reporting to them, those nurses will develop that skill, Hassmiller said. Future leaders need to understand people do not want to be told what to do, therefore they must facilitate and mentor.

“Exceptional leaders do not just have specific competencies,” Woolforde said. “They have people who believe in them, trust them and will follow them.”

Debra Anscombe Wood is a freelance writer.


To comment, email editorNY@nurse.com.
Skills for nurse managers/leaders

Foster a culture of teamwork
and collaboration
Develop relationships with
all team members
Work well with people
Put appropriate systems and
processes in place
Implement a strategic plan
for the unit
Foster a caring culture
Manage a budget
Manage quality initiatives
and ongoing projects
Manage and develop people
Recognize achievements and address deficiencies
Understand data and
analytics associated with patient care
Identify and develop potential
in staff members

Sources: “Essentials of nurse manager orientation,” via American Organization of Nurse Executives and Nurse.com CE course
“Developing your leadership potential”