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To be more effective leaders and full partners, nurses need to possess two critical sets of competencies: a common set that can serve as the foundation for any leadership opportunity and a more specific set tailored to a particular context, time, and place.The former set includes, among others, knowledge of the care delivery system, how to work in teams, how to collaborate effectively within and across disciplines, the basic tenets of ethical care, how to be an effective patient advocate, theories of innovation, and the foundations for quality and safety improvement.
Nurses also should serve actively on advisory committees, commissions, and boards where policy decisions are made to advance health systems to improve patient care.
Nurses must build new partnerships with other clinicians, business owners, philanthropists, elected officials, and the public to help realize these improvements.
Yet their history as a profession dominated by females can make it easier for policy makers, other health professionals, and the public to view nurses as “functional doers”—those who carry out the instructions of others—rather than “thoughtful strategists”—those who are informed decision makers and whose independent actions are based on education, evidence, and experience.
A 2009 Gallup poll of more than 1,500 national opinion leaders, “Nursing Leadership from Bedside to Boardroom: Opinion Leaders’ Perceptions,” identified nurses as “one of the most trusted sources of health information” (see Box 5-1) (RWJF, 2010a).
Nursing leaders must translate new research findings to the practice environment and into nursing education and from nursing education into practice and policy.