Top Concerns for Nurse Leaders

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Doctor of Nursing Practice | View all blog posts under Executive Nurse Leadership

Nurse executives tackle some of the most complex problems in healthcare.


Nurse executives tackle some of the most complex problems in healthcare. In past decades, emerging technologies, shifting demographics and social and political changes were the main issues impacting the delivery of modern healthcare. Today, new concerns are emerging, leading leaders to explore novel solutions.

As C-suite executives, nurse administrators have responsibilities that translate into concerns. Quality improvements, the patient experience, cybersecurity and hiring and retaining qualified staff are just a few. Nurse leadership is equipped to address the problems of the future.

Heather J. Rohan, chair of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), said sound leadership is essential to guide innovations that will improve outcomes and best practices. She said committed leaders are crucial to the process of solving complex challenges.

“From my perspective, leadership is the cornerstone of progress, allowing us to make a difference for our patients and communities, regardless of the challenges we encounter. It’s how we guide our teams to be courageously innovative. It’s how we make sure everyone has a voice. And it’s how we educate, engage and inspire professionals across the healthcare leadership community,” she said in her commentary, “Committed leaders required to solve healthcare’s many complex challenges.”

In the efforts to address the problems, nurse leadership has been taking a critical look at practices that will change the future of healthcare. Among them is for registered nurses (RNs) to earn advanced degrees, including a Doctor of Nursing practice from an online DNP program. At Duquesne University, RNs learn what makes an effective nurse manager and how they can benefit the future.

Some of the leading concerns for the future of nursing leadership include:

Quality improvements

Healthcare quality improvements address the ways care is delivered and leads to measurable improvements to targeted groups of patients. Quality improvements are important because they drive improved outcomes for patients and innovations in staff efficiency and reduce waste as a result of process failures.

“With lives at stake and specific standards that must be met, hospitals are held more accountable for excellence than your typical organization. Now more than ever, government and insurance reimbursement for patient care are based on health outcomes rather than procedures undertaken. Enter: quality improvement projects in healthcare,” the strategic planning company ClearPoint Strategy said in “5 Examples of Quality Improvement in Healthcare & Hospitals.”

Patient experience

The patient experience refers to how medical facilities engage patients to meet their different needs. Dr. Thomas H. Lee, Press Ganey’s chief medical officer, said the patient experience refers to more than good parking and improved wait times.

“We’re trying to meet patients’ needs, and among their needs is peace of mind that things are as good as they can be. Among their needs is to minimize the fear that they have, minimize the anguish that they have, preventable anguish from confusion and chaos. Patient experience defines what we’re trying to accomplish,” Lee said in “Why patient experience matters more than ever.”


As the healthcare industry increasingly relies on internet-connected devices for everything from patient care to records storage, cyberattacks threaten patient health and safety. In many cases, hacking and records stealing happens as a result of systems that have been left unsecured. In 2019, investigative journalists at ProPublica found medical data for more than 5 million Americans was sitting unsecured on the internet.

Healthcare IT News said the biggest risks come from cloud security, unsecured mobile devices, ransomware, IoT exploits and uneducated users.

Staff retention

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) said about 1 million nurses are expected to retire by 2030, leaving a deficit of experienced healthcare professionals. Experts worry the mass departure will affect patient care and the patient experience.

An AMN Healthcare survey of chief nursing officers found that most have felt the impact of the nursing shortage, describing it as moderate, significant or severe. AMN’s Chief Clinical Officer Marcia Faller said nurses are concerned about the impact of the shortage on patient and staff satisfaction and nurse recruitment.

“This survey also suggests that finding practical solutions to this situation may be beyond the capabilities of most healthcare organizations. They are going to need help, especially as nurse shortages get worse,” Faller said. 

Additional Concerns for the Future of Nursing

At the same time, Karen Hill, DNP, said healthcare has other concerning challenges. Hill, the COO and CNO at Baptist Health Lexington in Kentucky and editor-in-chief for the peer-reviewed Journal of Nursing Administration, said nurse leaders find solutions for improved patient care by sharing challenges and successes. These are some of the concerns for the future of nurse leadership, according to Hill:

Developing millennial nurses

Hill said about 50% of the nursing workforce consists of millennials, so the nursing profession has to learn how to maximize their talents.

Defining the scope of the nurse manager’s job

The current job description for nurse manager competencies include a variety of tasks – from retention to budgeting – leaving little room for excellence in one area. To combat nurse leadership problems, organizations must look to ways to distribute workloads evenly.

Ensuring nurse managers have appropriate skills and competencies

With the shift toward increasing responsibilities and accountability, nurse leader education should be targeted to provide a better understanding of financial, regulatory and clinical duties.

At Duquesne University, RNs learn the essential skills to provide well-rounded care, learn what makes an effective nurse manager and address the top concerns for the future. The online DNP program prepare RNs for leadership roles as healthcare continues to grow and evolve.

About Duquesne University’s Online DNP Program

Duquesne University’s online DNP program prepares RNs to practice at the highest level of clinical leadership. DNP students learn skills for revolutionary leadership that advances the delivery of care.

The nursing program 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. Student experiences are tailored to individual needs, and the program is delivered 100% online.

For more information, contact Duquesne University now.





Commentary: Committed leaders required to solve healthcare’s many complex challenges: Modern Healthcare

5 Examples Of Quality Improvement In Healthcare & Hospitals: ClearPoint Strategy

Why patient experience matters more than ever: Medical Economics

Millions of Americans’ Medical Images and Data Are Available on the Internet. Anyone Can Take a Peek: ProPublica

5 cybersecurity threats healthcare faces in 2019 and beyond: Healthcare IT News

Nursing Shortage: AACN

Nurse Executives Say Nurse Shortages Erode Patient Care and Staff Morale: Survey: AMN Healthcare

4 Trends Nurse Leaders Are Facing: Healthcare Leaders