reform efforts across the health care system. Nursing research and practice must continue to identify and develop evidence-based improvements to care, and these improvements must be tested and adopted through policy changes across the health care system. Nursing leaders must translate new research findings to the practice environment and into nursing education and from nursing education into practice and policy.
Being a full partner transcends all levels of the nursing profession and requires leadership skills and competencies that must be applied both within the profession and in collaboration with other health professionals. In care environments, being a full partner involves taking responsibility for identifying problems and areas of waste, devising and implementing a plan for improvement, tracking improvement over time, and making necessary adjustments to realize established goals. Serving as strong patient advocates, nurses must be involved in decision making about how to improve the delivery of care.
Being a full partner translates more broadly to the health policy arena. To be effective in reconceptualized roles and to be seen and accepted as leaders, nurses must see policy as something they can shape and develop rather than something that happens to them, whether at the local organizational level or the national level. They must speak the language of policy and engage in the political process effectively, and work cohesively as a profession. Nurses should have a voice in health policy decision making, as well as being engaged in implementation efforts related to health care reform. Nurses also should serve actively on advisory committees, commissions, and boards where policy decisions are made to advance health systems to improve patient care. Nurses must build new partnerships with other clinicians, business owners, philanthropists, elected officials, and the public to help realize these improvements.
This chapter focuses on key message #3 set forth in Chapter 1: Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States. The chapter begins by considering the new style of leadership that is needed. It then issues a call to nurses to respond to the challenge. The third section describes three avenues—leadership programs for nurses, mentorship, and involvement in the policy-making process—through which that call can be answered. The chapter then issues a call for new partnerships to tap the full potential of nurses to serve as leaders in the health care system. The final section presents the committee’s conclusions regarding the need to transform leadership in the nursing profession.
Those involved in the health care system—nurses, physicians, patients, and others—play increasingly interdependent roles. Problems arise every day that do not have easy or singular solutions. Leaders who merely give directions and expect them to be followed will not succeed in this environment. What is needed is