Nurses need a core set of skills to facilitate the health care industry's transition to value-based care, Heather O'Sullivan writes for Hospitals & Health Networks.
The necessary skill set is much broader than what was needed just a decade ago, according to Lamont Yoder—CEO of Banner Gateway Medical Center and Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, Arizona—and Carol Bradley, SVP and CNO of Legacy Health in Portland, Oregon.
Those skills, they say, can be boiled down to eight core characteristics:
1. Advanced education
Yoder estimated that by 2020, about 80 percent of all entry-level nurses will have a bachelor's degree. While that will attain a goal set by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a bachelor of science in nursing degree "is a door-opener; it's no longer the ceiling," Yoder said.
He added that nurses need to pursue both formal and informal advanced education opportunities, since "with the fast pace of change in today's health care system, it's impossible for any [Bachelor of Science in nursing] program to perfectly" prepare nurses for their careers.
2. Continuous learning
Nursing is constantly changing, so RNs need to pursue continuous learning.
According to Yoder, that could mean connecting with a mentor or coach who can provide feedback as nurses advance in their careers. Nurses also need to embrace new learning methods, Bradley said, including simulation environments, participating in national initiatives, or taking lessons from other industries.
3. Proficiency in technology
Technology is one of the main drivers of change in the health care industry. It can allow nurses to establish relationships with patients before they even step foot in a hospital—and maintain those relationships long after they leave.
Nurses also can use technology to share best practices, improve patient safety, and eliminate inefficiencies.
4. Building relationships
While nurses always have been responsible for building relationships with patients, Yoder said nursing leaders today need to extend those skills beyond the hospital.
"Nursing leaders also need to be prepared to collaborate with industry partners, community partners in pre- and post-care, technology and [telehealth] networks, insurance companies, and other players, to find new ways to efficiently provide quality care for populations," he said.
5. Community leadership
In a value-based care environment, nurses need to become more involved in their surrounding communities, Bradley said. That could include serving on boards, working with not-for-profits in the community, or working with hospital associations.
"Nursing's voice and presence in these groups is not only valued but increasingly necessary to help our communities effectively respond in meaningful ways to evolving health care challenges," Bradley said.
6. Performance-driven business smarts
As providers face increasing pressure to improve outcomes while cutting costs, "nursing leaders need to have the business acumen to analyze the way care is being delivered and apply clinical value analyses and the kind of 'lean' thinking that can reduce waste, inefficiency, and costs," Bradley said.
7. Emotional intelligence
Implementing change initiatives requires collaboration among a broad group of clinicians and experts, O'Sullivan writes. According to Bradley, collaboration requires the emotional intelligence to know how to motivate and engage employees around a common goal.
"The ability to involve and engage staff in change is essential for nurse leaders," she said. "We need to learn to lead in a way that creates results while making staff feel challenged and rewarded, not punished."
8. Flexibility and adaptability
As health care and clinicians' responsibilities constantly evolve, nurses need to be able to adapt.
"Because of the rapid pace of evolutionary change that's going on in health care, nurses need to continually strengthen and expand skills like resiliency, flexibility, and adaptability," Yoder said (O'Sullivan, Hospitals & Health Networks, 10/11).
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