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Keywords:

  • challenges;
  • nurse leaders;
  • succession planning

What are the key challenges facing nurse leaders in the United States? To find out, I asked 20 prominent nurse leaders to respond to that question and tell me their top three issues. Their voices tell a compelling story on challenges faced by the nurse leaders in American healthcare. The focus is no longer just on the process of how care is delivered, but on the outcomes of that care. More attention is being given to documenting that the care is provided according to specific standards associated with better outcomes. Many of the standards are directly related to the care given by nurses, including some indicators that are specifically sensitive to nurse intervention. There is also a new focus on federal reporting of patient satisfaction with the services provide. Producing quality outcomes, high patient satisfaction and effective measurements of both are now a central theme for the entire hospital administrative team. For the nurse leader, however, it represents explicit accountability for managing and leading the staff responsible for providing the patient care. Safety and quality issues are directly linked to financial pressure. Reimbursement for hospital is being whittled away as financial accountability for services receives greater scrutiny from the federal government and private insurers. Close on the heels of the financial challenge is the ever present workforce shortage. The most troublesome challenge identified by these nurse leaders is the absence of an adequate pipeline for nursing leaders. It is an exciting time for nursing in the United States. Challenges to be sure, but these nurse leaders have identified the priorities that will create a successful future.