DNP and the Transformational Leaders

Submitted by Bo Soobryan

Tags: advanced practice apn dnp dnp programs doctor of nursing practice future of nursing

DNP and the Transformational Leaders

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Transitioning advanced nursing practice to the doctoral level represents the natural evolution of the nursing profession and the right moves to ensure that nurses are prepared for the highest level of practice. Many advocates within the health care community (local and national authorities) are calling and welcoming the DNP role. National and state agencies, as a leading advocate for advanced practice nursing, understands greatly the contributions APNs (advanced practice nurse) make in the health care system as cost-effective providers. In addition, APNs have identified the need for additional education in the areas of evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems management, among others (Kaplan & Brown, 2009).

This transition in the education of advanced practice nurses (APNs) is targeted to meet the increasingly complex needs of patients, families, and communities in a rapidly changing health care environment. DNP education also has the potential to transform the nursing profession in a variety of ways. These include:

  • Creating and adopting new roles in nursing practice
  • Increasing the influence of APNs in health care and policy development
  • Promoting leadership by APNs in their workplace and health care organizations
  • Enhancing the self-concept of advanced practice nurses
  • Strengthening inter-professional relationships and collaborations.

(Kaplan & Brown, 2009; Swider, Levin, Cowell, Breakwell, Holland, & Wallinder, 2009)

The DNP stimulates the creation and adoption of new advanced practice role. As health care becomes more complex, it will take such strong leadership criteria for nurses in all fields to continue to improve their own standards and the qualifications of others in the field (Kaplan & Brown, 2009).

Leadership can be defined in many different ways. When it comes to nursing, it’s recognized that nurses who have leadership capabilities can improve motivational levels of others in the work environment. This helps nurses have a positive attitude about their work, run their daily tasks and responsibilities more effectively, treat other patients and other staff members with respect, and be able to reach personal goals and objectives (Kaplan & Brown, 2009; Swider, Levin, Cowell, Breakwell, Holland, & Wallinder, 2009).

Transformational leadership is a theory that was developed by James McGregor Burns in 1978. James McGregor developed this theory to examine and address the aspects of an organization that lead to success, inspire enthusiasm among an organization’s employees, and distinguish the values employees place on their work. The transformational leadership style encourages others to develop and implement effective leadership characteristic cs. The eventual goal of transformational leadership is for the leader and the follower to find meaning and purpose in connection to their work, growth and maturity (Robbins & Davidhizar, 2007; Smith, 2011).

Transformational leadership concept comprises of: charisma, inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration. Charismatic leaders possess self-confidence, self-direction, and an absence of internal conflict. They have perception into their followers’ needs and develop this to positively influence their followers. This type of leader is motivational, sensitive, determined, and able to convey the organization’s vision and encourage pride within the organization. Transformational nursing leaders in the clinical setting inspire other nurses by encouraging the use of evidence-based practice and addressing the “why” and “how” of specific clinical actions (Smith, 2011).

The roles of the transformational leader in the healthcare setting include promoting teamwork among staff, encouraging positive self-esteem, motivating staff to function at a high level of performance, and empowering staff to become more involved in the development and implementation of policies and procedures. The transformational leader portrays trustworthiness and serves as an inspiration to others, possessing an optimistic, positive, and encouraging outlook. A transformational leadership presence is vital, especially in clinical areas where new graduate nurses are present. Transformational leadership qualities promote a healthy environment for employees and staff, which will produce improved staff satisfaction, retention, and patient satisfaction (Merwe 2004; Smith, 2011).

Many scholars and professionals support transformational leadership that combines the strengths of leaders and followers. This form of leadership motivates people to establish their own leadership criteria. It creates changes in the health care system by encouraging nurses to offer improved feedback to one another. With its emphasis on change, new nurses are given the opportunity to evaluate new and old policies and procedures and take an active role in implementing new programming (Smith, 2011; Swider, Levin, Cowell, Breakwell, Holland, & Wallinder, 2009).

Transformational leadership promotes change and suites the extremely dynamic health care system. Its focus on change can be directly applicable to nursing. The key is to actively listen and institute pertinent suggestions that not only promote client outcomes, but also again help to build a base of leadership within the nursing realm (Merwe 2004; Smith, 2011).

Healthcare in the United States is constantly changing and becoming increasing more complex. An essential portion of the recent Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, focuses on the significance of nurses as leaders in healthcare. The American Nurses Association continues to encourage and support nurses to play a more proactive leadership role in the various settings in which they practice and at the state and national level (Medicine, 2010).

Due to the constant shifting nature of this country’s healthcare system, it’s for advanced practice nurses to employ a transformational leadership style, which encourages adaptation to change. The transformational leadership style allows for the recognition of areas in which change is needed and guides change by inspiring followers and creating a sense of commitment. Adopting the qualities of a transformational leader will allow doctorally prepared nurses to feel more comfortable and confident when engaging in the development of healthcare policies, the ever-changing components of healthcare technology, and the mentorship of advanced practice nurses (Kaplan & Brown, 2009; Swider, Levin, Cowell, Breakwell, Holland, & Wallinder, 2009).


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