Website spotlight: Why training nurse leaders matters

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, August 26, 2011

The last thing most hospitals want to do in a time of financial uncertainty is spend money on training and development. We know, however, that poor managers harm retention and productivity and we know that many nurse leaders feel unprepared to manage through the strategic change their organizations need.

Lillee Gelinas, vice president and chief nursing officer at VHA Inc., holds regular CNO group meetings for nurse executives across her health system. At the last one, Gelinas says the group of 100 CNOs decided to focus not on a single topic, such as value-based purchasing, but on innovation and leading change. The group felt they do not possess the skills and competencies to lead an organization through whole-scale transformation.

This is true for many healthcare executives, but the problem is particularly acute for nursing leaders who started out in clinical settings and rose through the ranks with fewer opportunities for formal business training.

Many choose to return to school for MBAs or other degrees that will hone their business acumen. Kim Sharkey, CNO/vice president of medicine at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta, already held an MBA when she decided to pursue a doctor of nursing practice degree.

"In my role, where I am VP for medicine, I work with doctoral-prepared medical practitioners," says Sharkey. She asked herself, "Do I really want to be the least educated person at the table?"

"I needed to find a program that would allow me to gain that skill and knowledge," she says. "It has really expanded my vision, scope of thinking, my ability to access and use evidence-based practice. It puts me at a more advantageous position at the table negotiating with other people."

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