Advanced degrees are typically viewed as a path to a leadership position.

But nurses with advanced degrees can also help entry-level nurses through mentoring, leadership, and education—and the more education involved, the more tools nurses have at their disposal to help their patients.

Demand for nurses is on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15% between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography, and degree field, affect career outcomes, and Capella does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, or other career growth.


Career advancement, however, isn’t the only reason nurses should consider an advanced degree. With a nursing leadership degree, you have the opportunity to potentially advance patient care by learning how to:


1.  Assume a leadership role.

A recent report identified nurses as fundamental to transforming the health care system. Nurses are taking on new leadership roles where they are able to directly affect how their organization helps patients.

“Developing nurse leaders is paramount to our success as a profession. As nurses study and assume effective leadership styles, support of their colleagues follows.” says Adele Webb, PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN, Senior Academic Director of Workforce Solutions at Capella University.


2. Take advantage of the latest technology and informatics in a health care setting.

Advances in diagnostics, non-invasive surgery, nanotechnologies, and electronic health records are just a few examples of how technology is an essential to the future of health care. Used strategically, new technologies have the potential to improve the efficiency and quality of patient care.

Nursing leaders need to recognize the value – to the patient and organization – in adopting new technology. In addition, they need to help advocate for adoption, plan the execution, and play a key role in training other nurses.


3. Guide your organization through changing policy and regulations.

Health care in the U.S. is in a time of transformation. Technological advances such as 3D printing and robotics are impacting patient care, but also have significant privacy implications. A clear understanding of how healthy policy is initiated and progresses through the governmental approval process is essential for a leader to influence patient care in the 21st century.

At the same time, the Affordable Care Act has changed who can receive health care and how they receive it. Nurse leaders will need to grasp new health care policies and regulations and help guide their organizations through this new territory.


4. Incorporate the latest research into practice.

New medications, clinical trials, and research are constantly reshaping the health care field. Those developments can have a direct impact on how nurses treat their patients, from using the latest breast tumor detection techniques, to helping children manage depression or how a new MRI glove can be used to look at hand movements to detect tissue injury.

In order to ensure that their patients receive the best care possible, nurse leaders need to know how to recognize research that will benefit their patients, and translate it into practical procedures to apply in their organization.


5. Lead a department more effectively.

When a hospital is run more efficiently, the nursing staff can be freed up to focus more on taking care of patients. Since nurse leaders are on the front line of patient care, they are the ones who notice inefficiencies and can make proactive recommendations, such as how to keep essential surgical supplies in stock.

At Capella, nursing students have the opportunity to take continuing education courses with the American Nursing Association to develop their business acumen and management skills. In the courses, nurse leaders learn how to use agile decision-making, determine the best problem-solving approach for a situation, and manage projects.

“The role of the professional nurse has evolved dramatically.  We are valuable partners prepared to make an incredible impact on the lives of patients and the outcomes of organizations.  As such, strong leadership skills and business acumen are essential whether we are at the bedside or in the boardroom,” says Christy Davidson, DNP, Interim Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.


 Capella’s online Master of Science in Nursing with a Nursing Leadership and Administration specialization will help you gain the critical skills and knowledge necessary to make an impact on health care policies and practices, be a leader in your organization, and foster quality patient care.

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