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The Importance of Succession Planning for Nurse Managers

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Many people are familiar with the hit HBO series, Succession. There’s a somewhat-related, real-world issue in the healthcare industry where nurse managers must be aware of the future state of the nursing field — and who will be replacing nurses exiting the profession.

Fortunately, succession regarding the demand for nurse managers is far less intimidating than the plot of the HBO series. Still, nursing professionals must have the necessary education and skills to fulfill this demand and step into nursing leadership roles. The Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) online program at the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) has a curriculum focused on management best practices and leadership principles.

Why Do Nurse Managers Need to Think About Succession Planning?

The COVID-19 pandemic presented immense challenges and stressors, leading many working nurses — including nurse managers — to leave or consider leaving their jobs. Although the situation has improved since the height of the pandemic, a recent AONL survey revealed that 38% of nurses in leadership positions are still contemplating or planning to leave their roles behind. Given the U.S. has been experiencing a nursing shortage for decades, this statistic is a concern for roles in nurse leadership.

Nurse managers are crucial in maintaining efficiency, organizational culture, patient care and health outcomes. Their responsibilities involve solving clinical and administrative problems, supervising care delivery systems, running crisis management efforts, implementing nursing policies and procedures and monitoring patient well-being. Given their importance to the healthcare system, the role is vital for healthcare organizations to prioritize retention and establish effective succession plans for leadership roles.

What Does Succession Planning in Nursing Entail?

Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing potential successors for key leadership positions within an organization. This ensures the organization continues to function effectively and provide quality care — even in the face of staff turnover. In nursing, succession planning involves assessing the current workforce, identifying individuals with leadership potential and providing training and development opportunities to groom these individuals for future nurse manager positions.

Effective succession planning is essential in nursing for several reasons as it:

  • ensures continuity, as new leaders will be well prepared to assume their roles with minimal disruption
  • helps organizations retain valuable talent by offering clear career progression and professional development opportunities
  • improves organizational culture by promoting mentorship and collaboration between current and future nurse managers

Implementing Effective Succession Planning

Healthcare organizations can take several steps to implement effective succession planning for nurse managers. Here are the top five to consider:

  • Assess workforce needs. Evaluate the current workforce to identify gaps in leadership skills and potential successors for key positions. This analysis will help organizations target training and development efforts more effectively.
  • Invest in professional development. Allocate resources for training and development programs to help nurses build the skills necessary for leadership roles. Programs like ULM’s online RN to BSN provide an excellent foundation for aspiring nurse managers.
  • Encourage mentorship. Foster a culture of mentorship by pairing potential successors with current nurse managers. This relationship can facilitate knowledge transfer, skill development and the growth of future leaders.
  • Provide growth opportunities. Offer diverse opportunities for nurses to take on additional responsibilities and leadership roles within the organization, helping them build their skill sets and demonstrate their potential.
  • Monitor progress and adapt. Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of succession planning efforts and adjust strategies as needed to ensure continuous improvement. This should encompass both qualitative and quantitative data.

Preparing Nurses for Leadership Positions

Programs like the online RN to BSN option at ULM are instrumental in preparing nurses for leadership roles. Coursework equips them with the skills and knowledge required to excel in managerial positions. This program is designed to enhance critical thinking, communication and decision-making skills while providing a comprehensive understanding of the healthcare industry’s administrative and leadership aspects.

Graduates of the program are well prepared to manage effective succession planning once they assume leadership positions. The program covers various aspects of nursing leadership, such as:

  • developing and implementing strategic plans
  • managing financial resources
  • evaluating performance
  • ensuring compliance with regulations and standards.

These comprehensive skills empower nurse managers to identify potential successors, mentor them and create development plans tailored to their needs — ultimately contributing to a more robust succession planning process. Students can complete the program in as few as 14 months. This means they can get started advancing their career opportunities in an expedited manner.

As the nursing profession continues to evolve and the need for effective leadership grows, the importance of succession planning for nurse managers cannot be overstated. By investing in programs like that at ULM and implementing robust succession planning strategies, healthcare organizations can better prepare for the future.

Learn more about the University of Louisiana Monroe’s online RN to BSN program.

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