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Become a Nurse Leader With a BSN

To be a good leader, one needs to be a knowledgeable leader. Nursing, in particular, is a field in which education and leadership go hand in hand. A nurse who leads other nurses needs to know how to lead -- especially how to build teams, inspire everyone on the team to do their best work, and communicate. Yet, a nurse in a leadership role is also called upon to provide expertise, advice and guidance, particularly when it comes to patient care.

It's no wonder, then, that those who are called upon to lead nurses are required to have a certain level of education. A nurse manager overseeing a nursing unit, for example, is required to have a BSN from an accredited university. According to, the role is "fast-paced, multi-dimensional, requires organization and critical thinking, and is vital to patient care" for its oversight of nurses who provide direct care.

Eastern Illinois University (EIU) considers leadership important enough to feature it in the online RN to BSN program. One of the core courses is Leadership and Management. According to the catalog, it "focuses on theories and concepts related to management and leadership in nursing practice." These include:

  • Strategies for managing quality of care
  • Safety and outcome issues
  • Caseloads of patients
  • Professional and support personnel
  • Data analysis
  • Finance and budgeting
  • Collaboration

One facet of the course explores how patient care is managed, which is one of the criteria used to judge the success of a nursing unit. Other facets, though, deal with the management of people and budgets, focusing on how the nursing unit fits into the larger framework of a healthcare facility or even a healthcare network.

A good deal of what nurses need to know about leadership -- including critical thinking, time management, and the ability to prioritize -- can be learned in an RN to BSN program, with students having opportunities to learn and practice those essentials.

There's also a nationwide trend toward hiring RNs with BSNs into additional nursing roles. An Emerging RN Leader article elaborates on why nurse managers need BSN degrees: "Nurse managers set the tone on their units for professionalism and the value of being a continuous learner." The article also states that those in leadership roles serve as strong models vital to achieving the goal of an 80-percent BSN-prepared nursing workforce by the year 2020.

The article points out the links between evidence-based practice (EBP) and better patient outcomes, noting that BSN-trained nurses are more familiar with evidence-based practices than nurses without a BSN. A nursing unit's emphasis on evidence-based practice needs to start with a leader who is experienced and knowledgeable in EBP.

Those who are called to be nurse leaders should know that it's challenging work, but it is also incredibly rewarding. It takes the preparation of a BSN degree and the experience of working in a healthcare setting to be successful nurse leaders, making an online RN to BSN degree program a great place to start the next step of your career.

Learn more about Eastern Illinois University's online RN to BSN program.

Sources: What Is a Nurse Manager?

Emerging RN Leader: Why Nurse Managers Need a BSN

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