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Part of Western Governors University

August 7, 2019

Nursing & Healthcare

4 ways nurse leaders can change workplace culture.

A nurse leader stands powerfully in front of a group of her colleagues.

In the current healthcare ecosystem, nurses have the best inside knowledge about how to balance patient outcomes with the organization's financial goals. The profession is transitioning to a value-based care model, where healthcare organizations receive financial incentives for reaching quality-care benchmarks. Nurses who want to lead the transformation of the healthcare workplace now have more avenues to grow into a role that can significantly expand their careers.

Nurses with a master's degree in health leadership, for example, can guide organizations through the transition to become accountable care organizations (organizations committed to providing coordinated high-quality care) and better workplaces. The degree program hones communication, management, and resource utilization skills to prepare nurses for a leadership role, helping organizations improve the patient experience while reducing costs of care.

If you're a nurse who wants to build a career legacy marked by innovation and cultural transformation, here are four ways that an advanced degree in leadership can help you reach your goals.

1. Become a transformational leader.

The traditional healthcare workplace is transactional: you do a good job, you get rewarded. You make mistakes, you get corrected. But that's changing as nurse leaders recognize the value of pairing transformational leadership with traditional transactional methods. Transformational nurse leaders serve as role models to inspire and use communication skills to motivate nurses and other staff members to deliver high-quality patient care.

A master's in health leadership prepares you to be a successful transformational leader by immersing you in leadership-centered themes, such as collaborative and integrated leadership. By the time you finish your degree, you'll be prepared to transform the workplace by inspiring and motivating nurses to improve their patient care.

2. Lead the transition to value-based care.

The fee-for-service healthcare model remains baked into the cultural DNA of many organizations. Transitioning to the value-based model doesn't just require the application of a new strategy—it's predicated upon changing an organization's culture wholesale. For providers, this model means providing holistic patient care and increasing coordination across services, departments, and locations.

With a degree in health leadership, you'll have the tools needed to shift workplace attitudes and manage teams of providers to seamlessly transition to value-based care. Courses in healthcare financial management prepare you to apply data analysis and strategic change management principles to shift from a fee-for-service culture to a value-based model. Courses exploring integrated leadership prepare you to manage change in a way that helps staff realize that cutting costs doesn't mean sacrificing quality care.

After you finish your degree, you'll feel confident in your abilities to analyze financial data and manage culture change in the workplace.

3. Use disruptive strategies.

Some healthcare organizations are disrupting care delivery by taking providers and services into the community instead of remaining siloed in hospitals or traditional medical offices. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality claims that clinical community programs help patients form healthier habits and help organizations improve their patient care strategies. Healthcare leaders who facilitate these programs can transform the organization's culture and help it think of comprehensive patient care as a community issue.

A degree in health leadership teaches you how to develop innovative approaches that will allow your organization to disrupt community healthcare and benefit everyone. Courses in healthcare models and systems teach you how to analyze and develop delivery models and determine which will work best for your organization and the community. You'll study challenges in community healthcare and develop skills that will empower you to lead your organization through changes in a way that benefits your community and provides your organization with value.

4. Empower your staff.

Workplace culture might be the single biggest contributor to low morale, high nurse turnover rates, and other significant healthcare personnel issues. A 2013 study in the International Journal of Nursing Studies found that a higher-quality workplace culture correlated with higher nursing job satisfaction and retention. Empowered nurses tend to feel more engaged and satisfied with their jobs—and they're less likely to leave. Additionally, satisfied workers contribute to high levels of morale that can transform the entire workplace culture over time.

But you can't change an entire culture on your own. You'll need to learn how to empower others to change it as well. In a health leadership program, you'll develop the communication and leadership skills needed to mentor other nurses who exhibit leadership potential and to empower them to drive change in the organization. The collaborative leadership strategies you'll learn will help you confidently delegate management tasks to cultivate emerging nurse leaders.

Transforming the healthcare workplace culture.

You have the power to transform the healthcare workplace and leave behind a legacy of innovation. A master's degree in health leadership can provide the foundation you need to launch a career in a high-paying executive nursing role that achieves great things for patients, the community, and you.

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