Nursing Leadership in a Post-Pandemic Era

Nursing leadership. 1. After reviewing the AONL competencies, identify two nurse executive competencies demonstrated in this case scenario and give an example of their actions that demonstrate each competency. What role would nurse managers have in this case scenario?

2 Name two of the nurse competencies that you feel are essential to nursing leadership particularly now that we are emerging from a post COVID era environment and how these nursing leadership skills will be applied in this new era.

3 What are four key phases for developing a successful strategic plan? What are some best practices for strategic planning and development? What nurse leader strengths and competencies position nurse executives and nurse managers as essential to strategic planning and development?

Nursing Leadership in a Post-Pandemic Era

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed gaps and weaknesses in healthcare systems worldwide while also highlighting the crucial leadership provided by nurses. As the world emerges from the crisis, nursing professionals must reflect on lessons learned to strengthen leadership competencies and strategic planning going forward. This article will examine key nurse executive and manager competencies demonstrated during the pandemic according to the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) framework. It will then discuss two competencies especially important for the post-pandemic era and how nursing leaders can apply strategic planning best practices.
Demonstrated Nurse Executive Competencies
The AONL identifies nine core competencies for nurse executives, two of which were prominently displayed in the COVID-19 response. The first is communication and relationship management (AONL, 2015). Nurse executives effectively communicated risks, resources, and policies to staff, patients, and the public through press conferences, social media, and collaboration with community partners (CDC, 2020). The second is knowledge of the healthcare environment (AONL, 2015). Executives demonstrated understanding of the healthcare system and public health by coordinating facility surge plans, securing equipment and staffing, and advocating for policy changes at local and national levels (WHO, 2021).
Nurse managers played a crucial role by communicating directives from executives while also voicing frontline concerns up the chain of command. They ensured staff followed safety protocols like masking and distancing while supporting overwhelmed colleagues through a traumatizing time (Kutney-Lee et al., 2021). Managers also took on expanded duties to address staffing shortages by performing direct patient care, coordinating transfers, and managing expanded units (Kutney-Lee et al., 2021).
Essential Post-Pandemic Competencies

Two competencies will be particularly important for nursing leadership moving forward. The first is human resource management to address pandemic-induced staff burnout and retention (AONL, 2015; WHO, 2021). Nurse leaders must prioritize mental health support through counseling, wellness programs, and a culture of compassion (Willard-Grace et al., 2019). They can also offer bonuses, tuition reimbursement, childcare, and flexible scheduling to attract and keep talented nurses (NSI Nursing Solutions, 2021).
The second is performance improvement with a focus on resilience, adaptability and innovation (AONL, 2015). The pandemic accelerated the need for telehealth, virtual collaboration tools, and flexible work arrangements (Gheorghiu and Hagens, 2021). Nurse leaders can embed these changes and promote a culture open to continual learning and creative problem-solving. They can lead debriefing sessions to document lessons from the frontlines and propose future improvements (Kohn et al., 2000).
Strategic Planning Phases and Best Practices
There are generally four key phases in developing a strategic plan: assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation (Bryson, 2018). During assessment, nurse leaders gather internal data like SWOT analyses and external PESTEL scans to understand the organization’s strengths/weaknesses and opportunities/threats in the broader environment. In the planning phase, leaders set goals and objectives, determine strategies and action plans, and allocate necessary resources.
The implementation phase involves executing strategies, overseeing projects and change management. Continuous communication and addressing challenges that arise are important. Finally, during evaluation, leaders monitor performance indicators, collect feedback, and assess what was successful versus requiring adjustment. Iterative strategic planning cycles allow for flexibility and course corrections as the environment evolves (Bryson, 2018; Johnson et al., 2022).
Nurse executives and managers are well-positioned to lead strategic planning due to competencies like systems thinking, business and financial management skills, and change management abilities (AONL, 2015; Porter-O’Grady and Malloch, 2018). Their clinical expertise and frontline experience give them credibility and understanding of operational realities. Participatory and transparent planning engaging all levels of staff can result in higher commitment, better informed strategies, and smoother implementation (Kohn et al., 2000). Regular reporting of progress and outcomes also maintains accountability.
The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the invaluable leadership that nurses provide within healthcare systems and communities. As the world transitions to a post-pandemic environment, nursing professionals must strengthen competencies to address challenges like staff retention, resilience, and innovation. Following best practices for strategic planning engagement and continuous improvement will position nurse leaders to effectively meet evolving population health needs.
American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL). (2015). AONL nurse executive competencies: Assessment tool.
Bryson, J. M. (2018). Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations: A guide to strengthening and sustaining organizational achievement. John Wiley & Sons.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020). Communication resources for COVID-19.
Gheorghiu, B., & Hagens, S. (2021). A digital shift in healthcare after COVID-19. NEJM Catalyst.
Johnson, G., Scholes, K., & Whittington, R. (2022). Exploring corporate strategy. Pearson.
Kohn, L. T., Corrigan, J. M., & Donaldson, M. S. (Eds.). (2000). To err is human: Building a safer health system. National Academies Press.
Kutney-Lee, A., Wu, E. S., Sloane, D. M., & Aiken, L. H. (2021). Changes in hospital nurse work environments and nurse job outcomes associated with positive work environments. BMC Health Services Research, 22(1), 1-12.
NSI Nursing Solutions, Inc. (2021). 2021 NSI national health care retention & RN staffing report.
Porter-O’Grady, T., & Malloch, K. (2018). Quantum leadership: Advancing innovation, transforming health care (5th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Willard-Grace, R., Hessler, D., Rogers, E., Dubé, K., Bodenheimer, T., & Grumbach, K. (2019). Team structure and culture are associated with lower burnout in primary care. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 32(5), 629–639.
World Health Organization (WHO). (2021). WHO coronavirus (COVID-19) dashboard.

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