An innovative method of professional development and recruitment is catching on as hospitals are realizing that the best nurse leaders can be found right at home.
The University of North Carolina Medical Center (UNCMC) in Chapel Hill, N.C., is one such organization that chose to invest in a Nursing Leadership Academy to facilitate in-house leadership development. Their success story was featured in the May issue of Nursing2016.
UNCMC's Nursing Leadership Academy is based on the facility's mission of developing leaders from within. The goal of the program is to build UNCMC “bench strength” so that each department has a succession plan for when current leaders are promoted within the organization and vacancies for new leaders open up. This puts younger nurses into position to take on leadership roles.
The academy consists of four courses that focus on topics pertinent to emerging nurse leaders:
The nurse leader course is designed to assist rising nurse leaders as they transition into new roles. New managers and recently promoted nurses are encouraged to attend, and during the course, participants share experiences and network with other new leaders.
The program includes an overview of the nursing department’s mission, core values, and philosophy, and provides information about nursing education, professional development,
research, evidence-based practice, and accreditation and regulatory compliance. Attendees explore different leadership styles as well as the expectations and challenges of role transition. This networking opportunity helps build collaborative, supportive relationships between new and established leaders.
UNCMC believes nurse leaders benefit from a system-wide understanding of patient movement and the consequences of strategic decision making. The “Friday Night in the ER” program is an innovative board game. It's an experiential learning session intended to explore systems issues, such as communication and strategic planning. Each game board represents a fictional hospital where each player is responsible for one unit within the hospital. Players are given basic instructions and then spend two hours playing the game, which represents 24 hours in the hospital. At the end of each hour, players record information about their patient load and points are awarded.
At the end of the game, participants share and compare information about how a player’s decisions impacted finance and quality scores, examine the effectiveness of communication and teamwork, and discuss with teams how the game relates to real decisions made at UNCMC every day.
In the modern healthcare environment, nurse leaders are assuming more responsibility for unit budget and financial operations. UNCMC's finance course helps new nurse leaders understand financial stewardship. The course begins with the foundations of finance and provides a rationale for why nurse leaders need this information. Instructors review financial terms used within the healthcare organization, as well as some of the calculations that are used to determine key statistics such as patient days, productivity, and monthly budget variances.
The class spends time discussing labor expenses and the importance of appropriately staffing a unit. The class focuses on budgeting, pitching new projects, and finding ways to make a financial case for a proposed initiative.
The Nurse Leader Fellowship Program (NLFP) is a 6-month program created to support the growth of emerging nurse leaders. Each cohort includes level III and level IV nurses from across the hospital that have been in their roles for less than a year.
The NLFP consists of five didactic classroom sessions covering leadership, communication, professional development, crisis management, and education. Each topic is presented by a nursing leader familiar with the content who shares real world experiences and tactical strategies to help the fellows achieve personal and professional goals. In a sixth session, fellows take a behind-the-scenes hospital tour guided by leaders from key hospital departments (such as maintenance, security, and pharmacy) who help the fellows understand how departments work together to enhance patient care. Fellows are also assigned a mentor who’s committed to meeting with them between sessions.
All of these programs have increased staff satisfaction, retention, and commitment to the hospital. What elements of the Nursing Leadership Academy can you implement at your facility?