As I have progressed into my final year of my nursing degree (eek!) I have developed my awareness of the importance of leadership, management and interlinking these fundamental aspects into one.
First year and second year helped me establish my fundamental skills of nursing, including clinical skills, nursing skills and medications. Although this practice is continued throughout Year 3 and especially throughout your career, there is more emphasis on leadership as we near our qualification.
Leadership is vital on all levels of nursing care. Whatever role you are in – from a student to a ward manager, a healthcare assistant to a staff nurse – we will all be managing something in our own way, whether that be a set of patients for the day or the ward manager running 30 plus beds and staff. To take control and direct others is important to ensure everyone around you has a role, everyone feels supported, if needed, and that the work environment is positive. This in turn will produce good-quality care for the patient/service user.
There are different ways of leading in nursing. Some nurses lead in clinical areas through a particular field of study (whether that be critical medicine, cardiology, endoscopy etc) to develop their knowledge in that field and lead nurses along guidelines, advice and plans of care. These are generally specialist nursing roles. There is also the managerial side of nursing including ward managers, matrons and heads of nursing, who manage the care being provided, ensuring that it is of a high quality and that raised concerns are addressed. (Both roles do an awful lot more but that is a whole other story!)
Leadership in nursing is something t hat's expected of nursing students, and demonstrating a willingness and enthusiasm to help your colleagues will stand you in good stead. Staff will not expect a student to take control and know everything at first but they do expect a readiness to learn and adapt. Taking baby steps into leading is important and can begin from teaching fellow students or colleagues on placement how to do certain skills if you feel competent, for example, manual blood pressure, recording an ECG or completing documentation. This will help boost your confidence and that of your peers, and encourage learning and adaptation.
As leadership goes there are a number of examples of types of leadership including autocratic (completely in control), situational (changing your attitude depending upon the situation) etc. Finding your own way of leading will be unique to you and how you are as a person, what your team is like and may change throughout your training and career – and that is okay. Flexibility is key, especially in nursing when you never know what is around the corner.
Attending a university like ARU has enabled me to equip myself with the knowledge and tools expected, not just in practice but through the Nursing and Midwifery Council. The most important thing to take away regarding leadership is that there is not one answer on how to be a good leader, there are just expectations.
Be yourself, make appropriate decisions, take risks within your personal and professional boundaries, continue learning and don’t be afraid to adapt!
Here at ARU, you can specialise in adult, child or mental health nursing – with some courses offering January as well as September starts. Wondering if nursing is the career for you? Check out our nursing pages or come and explore on an Open Day.