Skills Required to Provide Clinical Leadership in Mental Health Nursing

The role of nurses within the healthcare industry has always been a pivotal one. Increasingly, nurses have started assuming greater significance in providing necessary technical assistance as well as adding a humane touch to the patients and their families. An area of particular interest is leadership in nursing mental health, as greater number of people is seeking assistance for psychiatric and psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, senility, etc. In this context, an analysis of the wide array of skills required to provide clinical leadership in nursing mental health is of importance. The rest of the essay will broadly foray into these required skills.

One of the most requisite skills for nursing officers is conviction and courage in handling financial decisions for their hospital or clinic. With healthcare insurance becoming unaffordable for an increasing number of Americans, people end up in hospital wards with insufficient finances. While running a hospital or a clinic has a business element to it, its first priority is to serve needy patients, especially the ones suffering from mental ailments. An ethically conscious leader will always keep this in mind and put the interests of the patient before that of the organization. While this may sound a touch idealistic and its implementation may seem unfeasible in a competitive healthcare industry, it is nevertheless an ideal worth persevering for. According to Shawn Ulreich, the chief Nursing Officer at Spectrum Health, “It is time to bridge the gap between nursing–and all of operations–and finance…Nursing leadership entails measures to tackle the massively flawed payment system. Other times, it is demonstrating that you sincerely care about patient care” (Fifer, 2007).

Continuing in a similar vein, leaders in Nursing should reverse recent trends of high employment dissatisfaction among nurses and other support staff. Nurses across the country are not happy with the remuneration package handed to them and consequently shifting to jobs that pay more. Another reason cited for this state of affairs is the lack of mutual understanding between the business and nursing wings of the healthcare organizations. For example, according to a recent survey,

“Approximately 38 percent of the respondents reported having left a CNO position–13 percent within two years before the survey and 25 percent within five years before the survey. When asked about the context of their departure, a high percentage reported leaving their position to pursue another CNO position (50 percent) or for career advancement (30 percent); approximately 26 percent reported leaving because of conflicts with the chief executive officer. Of great concern is the finding that approximately 62 percent of respondents anticipate making a job change in less than five years, slightly more than one-quarter for retirement” (Jones, 2008).

From the above statistics it is clear that the onus is on the community of nurses, including that of the Chief Nursing Officers to put their collective cause before personal gains. At a time when catering to mental illnesses has become a specialized field in itself, such apathy toward mentally disordered patients is unbecoming of a nurse or a nursing officer. This point need be adopted and reinforced by the leaders themselves, so that those lower in the nursing hierarchy can emulate worthy role models.
Another area where nurses in mental healthcare should advance their skills is “management development” activities. With mental healthcare becoming a more specialized and complex industry, the expected nursing skills are also equally more elaborate. Nursing leaders should adopt an “activity competency model” to assess the prevailing state of nursing skills within their organization (Lin Li-Min, et. al., 2007). Later, depending on the findings, they can implement training programs that would inculcate nurses catering to mental health patients on the intricacies and nuances involved therein. Nursing Officers play am important role in hospitals and other healthcare centers. They should communicate effectively with other departments within the organization as well as interact with other allied organizations, so that they can “manage nursing resources, influence hospital strategy, and plan nursing activities to cope with the hospital’s competitive environment” (Lin Li-Min, et. al., 2007).

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