Many nurses fall into a leadership role with little to no training or preparation. Some may even begin this new role with the misconception that if it’s in a specialty or unit they’re familiar with, then leading the nursing team would be no different than the work they currently do. Believing that leadership skills come naturally can result in challenges when a new nurse leader is faced with budgeting, marketing—or dealing with staffing issues. Instead of being able to join in and complain about a problem, a nurse leader may now have to be the one to look for a solution.
One way to build your skills and expand on your resume is to take classes relevant to management and leadership, but you can also find opportunities to nurture your skills for a role in nursing leadership while working as a travel nurse.
Opportunities to Lead
Nurse leaders are key orchestrators for driving and supporting necessary change. They develop a different perspective on the nursing profession by considering the broader view of how everyday tasks affect the big picture of the healthcare organization. As advocates for positive change, nurse leaders can motivate and encourage others to improve morale, and make a difference in workplace culture.
Education can’t provide all the skills needed to succeed as a nurse leader, and you can start developing leadership competencies today for future roles. You may not have gone into nursing with a goal of becoming a nurse leader, or perhaps that’s been the next step on your career path from the start. Regardless of your current position, leadership skills can even help you excel in roles that don’t have the words management or leadership in the title.
Build Your Leadership Skills
Working in travel nursing can offer opportunities to gain a new perspective on nursing leadership while networking and making career connections. Take advantage of the chance to observe different nurse leaders, and their leadership styles, while working travel assignments. Some might have you aspiring to be more like them, while others might make you realize which leadership traits you want to avoid, and which may negatively impact staff.
Effective nursing leaders embrace lifelong learning and global thinking. Other ways to nurture essential leadership skills include to:
- Stay current in nursing trends by making time to review nursing journals or joining nursing organizations. Healthcare is constantly changing, and as a nurse leader you need to be on top of these trends to assist your staff, your organization, and to navigate these challenges.
- Keep your nursing skills relevant by seeking opportunities to observe healthcare procedures, or train on new or unfamiliar equipment while on travel assignment. Even if you’re no longer working on the nursing floor, having an understanding or awareness of current healthcare tools is an asset to a nurse leader.
- Expand upon communication skills by observing others, listen more than you speak, and critically reflecting on how your body language may be perceived. The ability to communicate effectively can reduce miscommunication, assist in conveying ideas clearly, and encourage shared decision making.
- Get involved in your organization and volunteer for committees. Ask to take on more of a leadership role to increase your confidence in leading a team. This could also offer chances to test your conflict resolution skills, suggest positive changes, and consider how you can effectively make them happen.
- Find a mentor in a leader that you admire to find support and guidance for your career.
- Volunteer to be a preceptor to inspire and motivate others towards their goals, which are some of the rewards of a leadership role.
- Be a role model in each organization you work by always acting with professionalism. Take responsibility for your actions, be accountable, embrace constructive criticism, and display a commitment to your position.
Expand Your Perspective
You may be aspiring to be a nurse leader this year, in the next five years, or perhaps nursing leadership isn’t on your agenda. Nurturing your skills for nursing leadership can assist you in excelling every day. A career as a travel nurse may expand your perspective of nurse leaders while gaining the skills to help you succeed as a nurse leader.