Transparency in Nursing Leadership and Healthcare

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Transparency, especially among nursing leadership, is a building block for trust.

In the realm of healthcare, transparency has several meanings. For patients, transparency includes understanding treatment options, risks and costs. For healthcare providers, transparency includes providing as much information as possible to allow for appropriate care with safety in mind. Transparent nursing leadership is a building block for trust.

The Harvard Business Review said transparency in healthcare leadership also leads to happier staff members and better patient outcomes.

“The most effective way to build a culture of transparency begins with those in leadership positions,” Dr. Gary S. Kaplan, chairman and CEO of the Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle, said in “Building a Culture of Transparency in Health Care.” “It is the responsibility of the leadership team to develop an atmosphere in which there is balanced accountability and continuous improvement, and this is everyone’s shared duty. Leaders must lead by example.”

Registered nurses (RNs) who are pursuing advanced leadership positions must learn about and demonstrate transparency to improve healthcare outcomes. RNs who earn a DNP degree, including from an online DNP program, develop essential skills for transparency to better fulfill the definition of nurse management.

Reasons for Transparency in Nursing Leadership

Rose O. Sherman, an RN and authority in leadership development, said the new generation of nurses is demanding transparency in leadership to build a culture of trust. Sherman, in her blog Emerging RN Leader, said employees who are well informed are more likely to have confidence in their employers.

“Your staff does not expect you to have all the answers but does want the truth,” Sherman said in “Transparency in Leadership.” “This may mean sometimes having to say that there are certain things that you cannot discuss at this time but will as soon as it is OK to share them. Staff want you to be humble and even vulnerable.”

To that end, Sherman referenced a blog post by Forbes contributor and leadership development expert Glenn Llopis that identified five reasons for transparency:

Problems can be solved more efficiently

When staff members have all of the information on a particular topic, they may come up with good suggestions to solve problems.

Teams coalesce faster

A culture of trust and transparency encourages team development faster than a culture of secrecy.

Relationships develop more authentically

Through full transparency, bonds mature quicker because the openness helps avoid misunderstandings that can lead to unnecessary tension.

Staff trusts their leaders

Transparency allows staff members to trust and respect their leaders and share their trust and respect with colleagues.

Higher levels of performance

When staff members feel as though they know what is happening in their organization, they feel better and more energized about their work.

Sherman said a lack of transparency that still exists in some healthcare workplaces could have long-term detrimental effects.

“The irony is that it is the leader who loses in the long run because performance will never reach the levels that could happen in a culture of transparency,” she said.

Successful Transparency in Nursing Leadership

Kaplan, in the Harvard Business Review, said leaders must prioritize multidisciplinary meetings that encourage the breakdown of silos and a sharing of information across the board.

“In the United States, we have more information than ever about how to provide appropriate, high-quality care and keep patients safe,” he said. “Transparency with internal and external stakeholders is essential for quality, safety, accountability and informed decision-making.”

At the same time, Brandon “Kit” Bredimus, director of emergency services at Midland Memorial Hospital in Texas, said transparency is the key to good leadership.

“A good leader recognizes they have weaknesses and that there are things they have to address and learn,” he said. “And what’s more, they are transparent about it. Leaders do not hoard all the knowledge; they are transparent and involve their team in decision-making because ultimately, it’s going to affect them.”

RNs who aspire to leadership positions and improving transparency must seek opportunities for educational advancement, including through an online DNP program. At Duquesne University, DNP students learn about transparency in nursing leadership from professionals who are experts in the field.

About Duquesne University’s Online DNP Program

Duquesne University’s online DNP program prepares RNs to use evidence-based practices to become leaders in advanced clinical care and implement transparency strategies in healthcare. Duquesne University’s online DNP program provides an opportunity for RNs to focus on one of three areas of study: Transcultural Nursing, Forensic Nursing or Nursing Education.

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. For more information, contact Duquesne University now.





 Building a Culture of Transparency in Health Care: Harvard Business Review

Emerging RN Leader: Transparency in Leadership

Why This Nurse Executive Believes In Transparent Leadership: Johnson & Johnson Nursing