Home Advisor Series Education & Degree Paths Influencing the Future: Creating the Next Generation of Nursing Leaders

Influencing the Future: Creating the Next Generation of Nursing Leaders

Opportunities in Nursing Leadership The demand for leaders in nursing is greater now more than ever. Leaders are needed to oversee departments and practices, serve on boards, and educate and groom the next generation. From being faced with an aging population, retiring nursing managers, and a new generation with unique expectations, there is a tremendous opportunity for new nurses who want to do more. Our emerging leaders will ultimately succeed our current establishment and continue the very important work being done to improve nursing practice environments, and most importantly, patient outcomes (Dyess, Sherman, Pratt, Chiang-Hanisko. 2016). Understanding what the current challenges are for today’s nursing leaders, and how we can solve them together is critical to creating the next generation. There are tremendous leadership opportunities for this new generation of nurses, and it is up to the current leaders to help them reach their potential.

Increased demand for healthcare

Approximately three million baby boomers will turn 65 every year for the next 20 years. This aging population will increase the demand for more healthcare services, whether it’s in-home patient care, facilities, or hospitals.

The need for nursing leadership is only increasing, creating opportunities for nurses in leadership and executive positions is increasing even more. With growing demands for safe, high-quality healthcare, it is predicted that there could be a shortage of up to 67,000 nurse managers by 2020 (Dyess, Sherman, Pratt, Chiang-Hanisko. 2016).

The good news is that these demands create a significant opportunity for nurses to become leaders and executives, helping drive changes in healthcare policies locally, regionally, and even globally.

Increased Need for Succession Planning

Many of the current nursing leaders and educators are also Baby Boomers and will be retiring. Many facilities don’t have a strong succession plan in place. Educating and preparing the next generation of leaders needs

to happen now. It’s urgent that facilities start their succession planning immediately, if they haven’t already. The demand for nursing leaders is increasing across facilities as well. From managing departments, to influencing local policies, to taking positions on boards, nurses will

have more opportunities and increased visibility. Nurses make up approximately 85% of healthcare employees, and their leadership and participation in key healthcare decisions is long overdue.

New Generations of Nurses Are Influencing How Things Are Done

The newer generation of nurses have different requirements for their careers. It is no secret that Millennials are changing workplaces across industries and the newer Millennials

(i.e. Generation Y) nurses are no exception. Gen Y nurses bring many traits and skills to healthcare and nursing that are needed, but it also requires shifts in leadership styles and support resources available. The new generation expects leadership and mentors, a focus on developing their skills, and organizational flexibility.

Generation Y has two compelling differences in behavior from the generations who preceded them that need to be taken into consideration when doing leadership development. The first is their incorporation of technology as a “sixth sense” and a means of interacting with the world. The sec- ond is their expectation of organizational accom- modation that is an outgrowth of how they were parented and treated throughout their education (McCready, 2011).

How can our current nurses in leadership positions lead their departments, divisions, practices, and mentor a new generation for succession planning effectively while balancing the when the increased demands and expectations on nurses?

The good news is that the solutions and opportunities created by these challenges don’t come around very often, in any career. It creates exciting opportunities for nurses to influence healthcare education, policies, practice and new generations of nurses.


  1. Nursing Leadership from Bedside to Boardroom: OpinionLeaders Perceptions, identified nurses as one of the most trusted sources of health information (see Box 5-1 ) (RWJF, 20). The Gallup poll also identified nurses as the health professionals that should have greater influence than they currently do in the critical areas of quality of patient care and safety. The leaders surveyed believed that major obstacles prevent nurses from being more influential in health policy decision making. These findings have crucial implications for front-line nurses, who possess critical knowledge and awareness of the patient, family, and community but do not speak up as often as they should.


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