Nursing Leadership: Are You Up for the Challenge?

By Irene Strejc, BSN, MPH, Vice President of Nursing, Methodist Richardson Medical Center

The need for dynamic nursing leaders who will step up to meet the many challenges facing health care practitioners today is greater than ever. Patient expectations are high. Hospitals are anticipating decreased reimbursement levels and are focused on new levels of efficiency. And electronic health records mean new processes for everyone.

Nurses, by their very nature, plan, analyze data, and execute. Their skill set, along with the ability to care for patients with compassion, easily translates to effective leadership.

Effective leaders impact the lives of patients by ensuring the operations of the nursing unit are well-managed to promote better outcomes. One quality of an effective leader is the willingness to be on the units regularly to observe daily interactions. Celebrate what’s going right. And when things aren’t going so well, leaders need to correct things immediately, not by punishing but by coaching. My philosophy is to recognize, reward, and repeat. We simply can’t do that enough.

What else makes a good leader? Here are some characteristics:

  1. Optimism. We can solve any problem or challenge as long as we believe we can do it.

  2. Possibility thinking. Creative thinking pushes us to think out of the box and help make nursing care the best it can be.

  3. Critical thinking. This enables us to weigh alternatives and select the one solution that gets us closest to our goals.

  4. Voracious reading. Progressive leaders research and develop a deeper understanding of the problem at hand.

  5. Consensus building. Leaders promote team-work. All ideas can be improved with the input of others.

What are the steps to becoming a nursing leader? Here are some recommendations:

  1. Get involved with committee work. Step up, speak out, and volunteer within your hospital’s shared governance council. This is an excellent way to groom your leadership skills.

  2. Go back to school no matter what level you have already achieved. There is always more to learn, which will only improve your performance. It is imperative to keep up with trends.

  3. Get involved with professional nursing organizations such as the American Organization of Nurse Executives and Texas Organization of Nurse Executives to provide opportunities for networking, educational updates, and advocacy in governmental issues.

At Methodist Richardson, our nursing leadership theme is come grow with me, the best is yet to be. To us, it’s all about growing as nursing professionals. Whether it’s on the floor or in an office setting, the bottom line is nursing leadership means building support around us. No one is an island. As we link arms, we support each other in creating the best possible environment in which to work and, ultimately, to care for our patients.

At Methodist Health System, we believe effective leaders are shining within and among us. Are you ready to become a leader? Visit


© Methodist Health System



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