The role of the clinical nurse leader is a reasonably recent addition to healthcare institutions.
It was developed in 2003 as it was becoming apparent that there was a need to recognize nurses who were stepping into leadership positions and give them a formal framework to do so to help them to access the right training and remuneration.
Today the role of the clinical nurse leader is a highly respected and rewarding one, and it’s possible to train as a clinical nurse leader without having worked as a registered nurse first.
If you’re someone who loves working with people and is empathetic and emotionally resilient, then becoming a clinical nurse leader could be a good career move for you.
You can act as a mentor for other nurses
According to a recent survey, the most satisfying jobs are those where there is an opportunity to serve or help other people.
For many of us, work plays a central role in our lives, and it’s the place where we do the majority of our social interaction. For this reason, it’s important that our work helps us to meet our social and emotional needs, as well as our financial ones.
Human beings are designed to live in communities, and we feel much happier when we feel as though we are being of service to our fellow humans.
As a nurse leader, you’re not only helping the patients in your care; you’re acting as a mentor to the nurses who you work with, helping them to provide excellent care and to develop their own careers.
Mentoring is incredibly rewarding, as you observe your mentees going from strength to strength and progressing throughout their careers. In nursing, it’s even more rewarding because you can see the positive impact your mentees are having on their patients.
Advocacy is a large part of the role
Another part of the role of a clinical nurse leader is to act as an advocate for patients and staff alike.
You’ll spend time getting to know your patients, their beliefs, and who they are as people. You’ll then use this knowledge to speak up for them when they need you to, ensuring that the care they receive is right for them based on both their medical needs and their individual emotional needs.
Advocating for your patients doesn’t always just mean in the hospital, either. Senior healthcare providers are often involved in health advocacy when it comes to the development of government policy, which is essential for ensuring that patient needs are put at the center of healthcare reform and new policies as they are developed.
You can have a huge impact on patient care
Every registered nurse has the opportunity to have an impact on patient care through the care that they provide.
Clinical nurse leaders have this same opportunity, and more so, because they are able to influence changes to hospital policies that dictate how patient care is delivered. Things like education initiatives help to empower patients to take care of themselves more effectively, which improves their quality of care.
Clinical nurse leaders are often instrumental in communicating with patients and their families and ensuring ongoing care even after their stay at the healthcare facility is finished.
Clinical nurse leaders are able to have an impact on how nurses and other healthcare staff are treated and ensure that they are getting greater satisfaction in their roles, which has a direct impact on patient care.
Studies have shown that the addition of clinical nurse leaders has a huge impact on patient care, creating changes such as:
- Reducing the length of stay for patients
- Reducing readmission rates
- Increased patient safety – for example, fewer falls and infections
- Increased patient satisfaction
- Higher levels of staff retention
You can train as a clinical nurse leader from any career background
If you would like to train as a clinical nurse leader, the good news is that you can do so even if you aren’t already working as a nurse!
It’s possible to undertake masters entry programs in nursing that will qualify you as a clinical nurse leader, as long as you have a bachelor’s degree from any other discipline.
The master’s entry program combines all that you would learn in a BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) and then builds on it so that you are fully equipped to work as a clinical nurse leader. Your university will arrange the clinical work experience that you need so that once you graduate, you are fully prepared to take your licensure exam and begin working as a clinical nurse leader.
The best part is that the whole program only takes 20 months, which is a great deal faster than other routes to qualify as a clinical nurse leader. Traditionally, the BSN qualification alone would take four years.
You can minimize the time out to retrain and be embarking on an exciting new career in under two years!
The salary is competitive
Nursing is a well-respected profession in the US, and it is compensated accordingly.
Registered nurses can expect to earn an average salary of around $73,000 per year, and clinical nurse leaders command an average salary of $92,236.
Salaries for healthcare careers are dictated by the type of institution you work for and your location in the country. For example, people working in a rural health center are not likely to be paid as well as people working in a busy city hospital. That being said, house prices and rents are likely to be lower in a rural location, so it does balance out.
The salary range for clinical nurse leaders is large. The lowest-paid clinical nurse leaders receive $83,833 per year, and the highest can receive as much as $105,249.
Healthcare roles are in demand
There’s a huge demand for healthcare roles in the US. A combination of the aging population and an increase in chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity means that we need more people in healthcare roles than ever.
This demand means that once you have trained, you are likely to have job security for life.