Head Nurse

Nursing management comes in many ways. The two most common management styles that nurse managers’ use can be primary nursing and team nursing. Depending on the hospital situation, nurses use these two styles in order to accomplish the tasks given to the nursing personnel. Nursing leadership in particular can be seen in each unit of the nursing department. The leadership skills of nurses are very important in carrying the effective care and overall hospital activities even the work output of doctors. So nurses should have a nurse leader that would oversee all these activities. For each nursing unit a head nurse must be available in order to facilitate a smooth flow of all activities in the unit. The term “head nurse” is actually used when the management style is primary nursing care. This management style is actually dynamic and as time goes by the role of the head nurse also adapts to the changing times. Studies have been also conducted on how a head nurse may affect the unit’s overall activities. It has been found out that the success or failure of the concepts of each nursing unit relies on the energy being focused by the head nurses in motivation his or her people.

Head nurses are actually registered nurses who have undergone training as well as additional professional education in order to assume roles regarding nursing management. They are the persons in charge of the overall daily operations of the unit. In the organizational chart, the head nurse represents the administrative part. Nurses in the unit can have an access on the administration as well as on the higher ranks of the nursing services through head nurses. That is why it is very important for head nurses to be effective in terms of communication.

Head nurses in general may assume similar roles but there would be roles exclusive only to each area of specialization. Some of the basic responsibilities a head nurse would do can be plot out and encourage the observance of nursing policies and services in a specific unit. He or she makes reports and other documentations about the unit’s activities as well as expenses made. Such reports may also include observation done on the unit by the head nurse and being channelled out to the upper management. The working pattern is established by the head nurse because he or she schedules and arranges the nursing personnel to work for a particular day or may even assume the role of staff nurses when there is no enough manpower. Auditing is another vital role of a head nurse. He or she documents all the nursing personnel’s credibility to perform such tasks as well as foster trainings for staff nurses as part of the staff development. It is a must that head nurses are well rounded in terms of skills and knowledge regarding the unit’s set up and work culture. Giving performance appraisals on staff nurses and other allied nursing personnel are done by the head nurses.

When a patient has a problem or something to complain, the head nurse might also step into the situation so that he or she can know the right story as well as give or counsel both parties on what is solution would be best for all. Head nurses have this power to protect his or her personnel also. If someone may report against his or her personnel, the head nurse represents the whole unit as well as the nursing subordinate.

Being a head nurse, means combining leadership with nursing process in delivering safe and effective nursing care. He or she is also in contact to each patient with the unit because he or she is also liable of each action of the nursing personnel under him or her. They are even needed to communicate to doctors when something unusual to the patient or if something arises that needs collaboration between health team members.

On the career ladder, anyone who aspires to be a head nurse must possess leadership skills coupled with good working experience. Hospital policies may also dictate the way head nurses are chosen among the candidates. As it is the first management position a staff nurse may encounter in his or her career, it is perhaps suitable to be prepared personally from the bumps that will come along the leadership role. The life of the unit relies with the skills of a head nurse. He or she must be very versatile since the situation in the unit is unpredictable, aside from being a good leader, he or she must be a self-starter in order to promote improvement in the unit.

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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