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Critical Management Skills Every Clinical Nurse Leader Needs

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In every healthcare organization, maintaining and improving the health of patients is paramount. Clinical nurse leaders (CNL) are essential to achieving this goal. To succeed as a CNL, nurses need exceptional management skills. An online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with a clinical nurse leader (CNL) concentration prepares CNLs for a leadership position in nursing.

What Is a CNL?

CNLs are prepared with advanced nursing knowledge so they can lead or work as part of an interdisciplinary team that may consist of:

  • Nurses
  • Clinical nurse specialists
  • Physicians
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Lab technicians
  • Pharmacists
  • Social workers

Where Do CNLs Work?

CNLs find employment in various healthcare settings. They can work in hospitals, clinics or long-term care facilities. Wherever CNLs are employed, they lead a unit’s interdisciplinary healthcare team.

What Are the Responsibilities of a CNL?

CNLs oversee the care of a particular group of patients. They are responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating patient care. In addition, a CNL coordinates and supervises a team of healthcare professionals to carry out a patient care plan. A CNL does the following:

  • Advocates for patients, families and communities.
  • Coordinates direct care duties for nursing staff.
  • Documents and assesses risk factors and patient outcomes to improve healthcare.
  • Educates patients about self-care and available healthcare services.
  • Facilitates collaboration among members of the healthcare team.
  • Handles revenue and expense reports.
  • Promotes evidence-based practice so the latest medical innovations are used in the delivery of care.
  • Facilitates and leads quality improvement initiatives.

Is There a Difference Between Leadership and Management?

Yes, there is a difference between leadership and management. They are closely linked but are not the same. Leadership motivates and guides people toward a common mission or objective. Management focuses on getting the job done, which often requires non-clinical, administrative duties. Leaders see a need to improve something so they push for revising or replacing outdated techniques, procedures or policies. Managers work to keep the upgrades on track and operating without difficulty.

Why Do CNLs Have to Know About Management?

Even though CNLs do not have to perform administrative tasks, they do have to manage staff and ensure that patients receive proper care. Therefore, they need to understand the concepts of management and possess the necessary skills to lead and assist a nursing staff and a team of healthcare professionals.

Why Is Management Important?

Good management is crucial for developing consistent and first-rate healthcare. CNLs who know how to manage well can increase the quality of health services, reduce the number of complaints to boost patient satisfaction, raise productivity and sustain improvement efforts.

Management is the key component to effectively mobilizing staff and sharpening their skills to accomplish workplace goals. Exceptional managers clearly explain their expectations to support staff and offer guidance if any questions or misunderstandings occur.

What Management Skills Do CNLs Need?

CNLs work to identify new methods to elevate patient care. They monitor staff performance and may advise nurses regarding complicated patient cases or situations. As nurse leaders, CNLs must be able to prioritize duties, build professional relationships to foster teamwork, remain flexible to expedite changes and cultivate a collaborative environment for staff. For CNLs to complete their daily duties, they need a variety of management skills such as:

  • Analysis
  • Communication
  • Financial
  • Observation
  • Organization
  • Conflict resolution
  • Negotiation
  • Problem-solving

CNLs are experts in their field of nursing. They integrate their clinical knowledge, experience and management skills to foster cooperation and deal with safety issues. This is done through effective communication, strategic planning, education, leadership and management. Most importantly, CNLs strengthen the competencies of their nursing staff by encouraging them to participate in professional development.

Learn more about the University of Louisiana Monroe’s online MSN – Clinical Nurse Leader program.


Health eCareers: 5 Indispensable Nurse Manager Skills Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Job Description

Nursing Explorer: Clinical Nurse Leader

Chron: The Qualities of a Nurse Manager

Chron: Why Is Good Management Essential in the Workplace?

HealthLeaders: Nurse Managers Must Model Relationship Skills

Nursing Times: Why Management Skills Are a Priority for Nurses

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