The US healthcare industry is constantly changing and improving, and managing its various services can be a challenge. Nurses play a crucial role in maintaining an efficient, well-organized facility that gives patients a great experience. Healthcare management professionals work in various capacities to keep their departments or facilities running smoothly. However, they are assisted in this role by highly competent nurses who have a unique perspective thanks to their experience.
How do nurses support better healthcare management?
Nurses are used to working collaboratively with colleagues at all levels and one another. They are team players, and their help with managing the ward, unit and facility is essential. Here is a look at some of the ways they support better healthcare management.
Carrying out non-clinical activities
Healthcare managers plan and synchronize a range of non-clinical activities within their establishment. Nurses also carry out a range of non-clinical tasks as part of their daily workload. They write up patient notes, manage cases to ensure patients receive optimal treatment, and coordinate care packages with multiple service providers. RNs also play an important role as advisors on interdisciplinary healthcare teams
Helping departments work within a budget
Managing the finances of a healthcare facility is particularly challenging as managers are expected to juggle numerous concerns. Nurses work to maximize their department’s efficiency in several ways as part of their daily routine. In the emergency room, triage nurses make decisions that have a huge impact on the hospital. They help to reduce wait times and minimize the risk of readmission by identifying which patients need urgent care. Because they are often the first professionals to meet a patient, they are best placed to make an excellent first impression. Providing high-quality care and reassurance creates a positive experience for patients and will ultimately make them more likely to return when more care is needed.
Using telehealth technology to reduce ER waiting times
Long wait times, especially in the ER, are an issue throughout the US. This is troubling for managers because it can leave patients without access to care and also means the hospital may not be compliant with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. According to this law, the patient should be able to receive the care they need, and penalties can be levied by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on hospitals that do not meet their responsibilities.
Digital medicine is an established method of cutting back on long wait times and easing overcrowding in ER rooms. Nurses use telehealth to connect directly with patients in need of care as part of a triage process. They deliver effective and compassionate assistance, in addition to helping patients avoid a trip to their local ER if their symptoms are not life threatening. Nurses provide information, signpost other services, and arrange for prescriptions to arrive at the patient’s pharmacy.
Advising healthcare managers on effective work schedules
Nurse scheduling is highly complex. Most facilities run all year-round and need to be staffed day and night. Nurses with different skills and certifications are needed at all hours, and there will often be a mix of full-time and part-time staff.
Effective nurse scheduling allows hospitals to remain compliant with laws related to labor and staff-to-patient ratios, so healthcare managers turn to nurses for help. Along with their job at the hospital, nurses have a personal life that could involve family, education and other commitments. By speaking with them, managers can factor their preferences into the schedule and learn more about when they are available. This information can then be added to a spreadsheet to simplify the process and create more efficient schedules that rarely need readjusting.
Ensuring patients are well cared for and have an excellent experience
If a hospital wishes to be successful, it needs patients to return for other treatments as this leads to increased profits. This is the responsibility of healthcare managers, but nurses on the front line are crucial when it comes to keeping patient satisfaction levels high.
Patients experiencing a bout of poor health and pain benefit from a compassionate approach. When people feel at ease with a nurse, they are more inclined to open up and explain how they feel. As these interactions happen frequently, nurses can build up a comprehensive understanding of a patient’s symptoms. When they collaborate with a doctor, they can pass this information on so the best possible care plan is established. Excellent care leaves a lasting impression on patients as well as their friends and family. As a result, the hospital is likely to see a steady intake of patients and a reliable revenue stream.
Coordinating patient care for the best outcomes
In addition to providing improved outcomes for patients, good care coordination can lower costs. Healthcare managers strive to achieve both of these objectives, but nurses are increasingly being asked to help out in this area. The problem begins when patients have to engage with multiple care providers, which is the case for many people. It’s especially common for those with complex needs that may result from a chronic illness or bad accident.
Nurses help by ensuring that knowledge about each patient is shared with other people in the care team and their transition from one facility to another runs seamlessly. They will also collaborate with providers to ensure the care plan remains relevant and personalized. Finally, they inform patients about community health centers or other local resources, such as nonprofits, which could be of help to them.
Getting into a professional healthcare management role
Healthcare management is highly specialized, and although nurses have experienced aspects of the role, they will need further training to take on a full-time position. This work includes overseeing the costs of healthcare provision, how it is delivered and the quality of care received.
People who hope to move into this area can improve their leadership skills and financial aptitudes by earning an MBA at an accredited institution such as Spring Arbor University. This online course is aimed at bachelor’s degree graduates and leads directly toward a role in healthcare management. It can be completed in one year, and the program offers an accelerated route into a new career and is ideal for ambitious people.
Earning a master’s degree
For nurses with an accredited bachelor’s degree and an active RN license, a master’s degree is one of the fastest routes to becoming part of the management team. Moreover, with change occurring so quickly in the ways healthcare is delivered, a master’s is often the best way for graduate-level professionals to prepare themselves for working in this diverse field. Regardless of the setting they start in, a master’s will have equipped them with the skills and knowledge to successfully assume a leadership position.
RN to master’s programs
Nurses who currently hold an associate’s degree rather than a bachelor’s degree can opt to take an RN-to-master’s degree program. This route into healthcare management can be completed in two to three years, depending on the university.
The courses are delivered in an online format or a physical classroom, but many institutions are now offering a blended option. When students graduate from their RN-to-master’s course, they will have the same level of qualifications as people with a BA and MA under their belt.
Can nurses work and study?
Nurses who are considering professional advancement can choose to take their post-graduate courses online on a part-time basis. This flexibility means they can fit the course around their current role and any family commitments they have. Alternatively, they might choose to take a year off and complete their education in one year to get into a healthcare management role more quickly.
Where are healthcare managers employed?
Healthcare managers are employed at both the federal and state levels in a range of locations. Most of them work in medical centers or hospitals, but others choose a role in rehabilitation centers, care homes, group physician practices, community health centers and outpatient facilities. Graduates who are more interested in taking on an administrative role away from frontline care can work for a data management business or an insurance company.
Work in a dynamic and growing field
It can be challenging at times, but nurses who want to move into a healthcare management role and are prepared to earn the necessary qualifications will be rewarded in the long run. In the US, standards of care are improving all the time. Moreover, with an aging population and increasing numbers of people being entitled to health insurance, it is clear that major changes are afoot.
As part of this shakeup, more nurses will be needed in every medical setting, from primary care to surgery and other specialty roles. As these nurses take their place in hospitals, clinics and independent care companies, knowledgeable professionals will be needed to manage them. Nurses with experience and an advanced qualification in healthcare management are ideally placed to fill the growing number of leadership roles.