Nurses are expected to acquire a high level of medical knowledge and technical skill in their education and demonstrate these qualities in the workplace. But besides these hard skills, nurses are also expected to develop softer traits like communication, interpersonal coordination and critical thinking. These skills play an important part in professional health care, particularly because they help build leadership in nursing.
Nurse leadership is important for any role in the field, but it is particularly emphasized for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), who are at the highest levels of nursing and in positions of nursing leadership that are looked to for guidance, authority and insight.
However, even if a nurse is a born leader, it takes time to hone that craft and learn how to apply it in real-life settings, which can sometimes be high-pressure situations. That’s why many nurses look for a graduate program to help them build leadership skills through nursing coursework, and earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), the terminal degree in the field, can prepare them for a life in nursing leadership. Here’s how Bradley University’s online DNP program, which offers a leadership-specific track, helps professionals achieve those learning outcomes.
Skills expected for nursing leadership jobs
Leadership is vital all the way down the nursing hierarchy, as all nurses will encounter situations that require them to take charge or assert their expertise. Yet leadership skills are most stressed at the top levels. APRNs, like family nurse practitioners who practice autonomously, need to assume leadership responsibilities, while a nursing director benefits from having the same skill set in management.
Leadership becomes increasingly important up the management hierarchy, while the value in obtaining a DNP also increases. The doctoral degree can open up career opportunities in senior level management like nurse director, officer or executive, as well as influential positions in policymaking, care coordination and improvement, and research and academia.
Teaching nurses leadership skills is a central objective in Bradley’s online DNP program. Nurses at this level require focused learning and practical experience to develop leadership skills including conflict resolution, business ethics, creative problem solving, decision-making and talent management, among many other abilities.
Leadership skills taught through Bradley DNP courses
The curriculum of Bradley’s online DNP program is structured to ensure graduates can develop vital leadership skills. Students are taught these skills in theory and receive the chance to apply and refine them in clinical practice. This experiential aspect is crucial to ensure students have not only the knowledge of leadership skills and methodologies, but also the means to deploy them in real-life settings.
Some of the courses include:
Health Policy – NUR 640
In this course, nurses study the development and implementation of health policy, as well as the impacts of health care regulation and reform on care delivery and organizational finance. Grasping these concepts is essential for nursing leadership, who must drive policy to promote health and wellness through local, national and worldwide initiatives.
Advocating care quality and delivery improvement is common for many nursing leadership roles, and to adequately carry out that duty those nurses need to know as much as they can about policy creation, promotion and rollout — all themes NUR 640 addresses to help students better define and understand the roles of nursing leaders in directing health care policy.
Leadership in Advanced Practice Nursing/Ethics in Advanced Practice Nursing – NUR 730 and 735
This pair of courses readies nurses to assume practical and ethical leadership duties as an APRN. NUR 735, for example, focuses on organization and systemic leadership strategies for advanced practice nurses so they can motivate productivity, improve outcomes and patient safety, and collaborate effectively with other medical professionals and stakeholders. The ethical leadership topics covered in NUR 730, on the other hand, expose APRNs to moral issues that may arise in practice, research, education and administration. The course also trains them to think critically about and resolve ethical dilemmas.
Data Management/Database Management Systems – CIS 576 and 571
Data is important to nearly every industry and profession today, health care and nursing included. The intersections of medicine and technology are many, requiring nurses in leadership positions to have strong data management skills. In CIS 576, nurses learn to collect, validate, organize, protect and analyze data, as well as understand protocols for data governance, security and privacy — highly important competencies in a world dependent on electronic health records.
CIS 571 builds on that knowledge with further learning about database management systems. In this course, students study relational database design, the theory of relational databases, relational algebra, structured query language, various loading and reporting utilities, and the implementation of database management systems.
DNP Practice Seminar – NUR 625, 725, 826 and 827
Over four courses and 300 clinical hours, a student initiated endeavor that culminates in a scholarly proposal. Students choose a clinical setting and assess the needs of providers, consumers and stakeholders in the development of a proposal related to financing, regulation and/or delivery. The process thrusts nurses into a position of leadership and accountability and allows them to innovate and apply leadership skills in pursuit of safe and effective nursing practice.
Contact Bradley today for more information
Leadership skills are highly valued in the professional world, especially as the need for health care grows and providers encounter modern challenges of managing population health, transitioning to value-based care, implementing new technologies and dealing with other high-level matters of policy and delivery. Nurses with the leadership skills a doctoral education can confer are the most prepared to handle these challenges and make the most of opportunities to improve care and patient safety.
For more information about the coursework in Bradley University’s online DNP program, contact an enrollment advisor today.