Crises can unfold in a split second, and RNs who have earned Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees are typically on the front lines of disaster management. As skilled critical thinkers with a dedication to excellence, DNP-educated nurses play a crucial role.
Increases in globalization, population density and societal changes are amplifying the risk factors for unanticipated emergencies and the need for stable and enduring leadership. Today DNP-educated nurses are taking leadership roles in crisis events including hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks and war, American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) researchers said in, “Crisis Management: The Nurse Leader’s Role.”
“As the nation’s largest group of healthcare professionals, nurses are the clinical backbone and safety net of the healthcare system, providing leadership for staff and clinical care for disaster victims during emergencies,” AONE researchers said. “With their experience, nurse leaders can help bring order to chaos utilizing leadership behaviors. They provide vision and influence in order to provide strategic decision-making and guidance through the phases of a crisis.”
AONE said one element of being an effective nurse manager is learning nursing interventions for crisis management, which include leadership competencies, communication expertise and ethical decision-making. At Duquesne University, nurses enrolled in the online DNP program learn transformational leadership proficiencies. Program graduates enter the workforce ready to implement learned abilities in crises.
Essential Aptitudes for DNP Leaders During a Crisis
AONE, in partnership with the American Hospital Association’s Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD), said chief nursing officers (CNOs) are prepared to take charge of a crisis as a result of their advanced education and training.
“Because they are highly visible and accessible throughout an institution, CNOs are well positioned to provide strategic insight and influence during crises and organizational challenges,” AONE leaders said in their research. “They display a combination of situational, transformational and crisis leadership styles suited for a critical situation. It is crucial the nurse leader be a recognized member of the crisis management team — the group that directs the organization’s response to an incident.”
The AONE also said there are fundamental principles for nursing leaders for crisis planning and implementation:
Nurse leaders should be trained in effective communication techniques and media relations. They should utilize their critical thinking and collaboration proficiencies and make sure all of their communications are clear, concise and unambiguous. They should be able to dispel rumors and circulate facts.
Nurse leaders should remain calm, composed and confident but also be authoritative under challenging situations. They should be rational and open-minded to other ideas.
Nurse leaders should also show empathy to the staff’s needs while maintaining control over a situation. They should be able to approach a crisis from a systems theory perspective.
Nurse leaders should also use their critical-thinking abilities, including analyzing, evaluating and synthesizing information to determine the best approach to crises.
“Nurse leaders should coordinate with other credible sources, build bridges and maintain partnerships with other organizations. The nurse leader’s central mission is to maintain safety and meet the basic needs of the patients and healthcare staff,” AONE researchers said.
Nurse leaders should be prepared at all times to identify the nature of the crisis, activate plans, implement actions and provide interventions for the organization’s readiness.
Nurse leaders and other members of the crisis readiness team should hold annual practice activities and update core competencies as needed.
“Although it is important to continually train personnel through drills, simulation and discussions, nurse leaders must also practice communicating with healthcare staff, patients and families,” the AONE said.
Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society of nursing, said nursing leaders should possess distinct characteristics to lead crisis management. They must have essential proficiencies and abilities to execute their knowledge in an appropriate and timely manner.
Leadership Characteristics for Crisis Management
Sigma leaders also said knowledge alone does not mean nurse leaders can implement the tools needed for crisis management leadership.
“Just because an individual has a knowledge base does not necessarily imply that they can lead others or transfer that knowledge to their staff,” the organization said.
Sigma identified these leadership characteristics as very important to ensuring a competent disaster response:
- Decision-making expertise
- Communication competencies
- Leadership qualities
- Disaster management abilities
In addition, nurse leaders should have an education that prepares them to take charge of crises. At Duquesne University, RNs enrolled in the online DNP program take coursework in ethical leadership, learning how to lead by example while adhering to their own values and beliefs.
About Duquesne University’s Online DNP Program
Duquesne University’s online DNP students also learn about decision-making proficiencies that help in times of crisis. The program, which was launched in 2008, builds on existing knowledge for a well-rounded education. All of Duquesne University’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Duquesne University has been repeatedly recognized as a leader in nursing education, most recently as a “Best Online Graduate Nursing Program” by U.S. News & World Report. The university’s online DNP program provides one-on-one faculty mentorships and a 100% online curriculum.
DNP students have the option to focus their graduate education in one of three areas of study: Transcultural Nursing, Forensic Nursing or Nursing Education. For more information, contact Duquesne University now.
Crisis Management: The Nurse Leader’s Role: AONE
Role of the nurse leader in crisis management: AONE
Crisis Leadership and Decision-Making: Hospital Administration and Nurse Leaders’ Concerns for Disaster Response: Sigma Theta Tau International Research Congress