Management theories in nursing

Nurse managers are responsible for managing human and financial resources in a medical environment. Maintaining a safe environment for staff, patients, and visitors is high on their list of priorities, as is ensuring that the quality of care is the best they can offer and that the service aligns with the hospital’s strategic goals.

What are management theories?

Management theories are ideas that suggest rules for running an organization. They deal with strategy implementation to accomplish organizational goals and motivate staff to perform to the best of their abilities.

Healthcare management theories and principles differ from business theories in that a healthcare environment needs to prioritize the safety of staff and patients, along with excellence in patient care. Management theories provide frameworks for leaders, providing guidelines and improving outcomes.

Benefits of management theories

  • Improved productivity: Collaboration with staff becomes easy when there are guidelines to follow, thus improving staff productivity.
  • Efficient decision-making: With strategies in place, the decision-making process is generally quick and done with more confidence.
  • Increased objectivity: Managers take a more scientific approach when guidelines are in place.

In nursing, leadership and management roles sometimes overlap. Here’s a brief breakdown of the two areas, keeping in mind that a nurse practitioner or doctor of nursing may perform both simultaneously in smaller organizations.

Leadership role:

  • Embodies the mission, values, and vision of the unit.
  • Motivates staff to strive for professional excellence.

Management role:

  • Embodies the strategic goals of the organization.
  • Encompasses the operations of the unit in the medical setting.
  • Oversees the finances and budget of the unit.
  • Focuses on task-oriented, technical components of jobs.

Nurse managers serve two functions. They are responsible for delivering safe, top-quality clinical care and for the smooth management of the administration of the unit or organization.

Nurse managers are responsible for staff satisfaction, giving support, and providing representation when necessary. They counsel and coach their staff, motivate them and empower them to act independently and responsibly.

They manage the operational side of the unit from a financial and HR perspective, ensuring that patient-based care is quality-driven and runs within regulatory standards and protocols.

Nurse managers influence the culture of a unit and its ability to embrace change. As managers of smaller units, they align the unit’s culture with that of the hospital or clinic. They support it by integrating principles and tools into its workflow and ensuring that the workflow aligns with the organizational strategic plans, values, and goals.

Nurse managers lead the care efforts of their units. They benefit patient safety through leadership while supporting, motivating, and empowering their staff.

They promote good communication lines between staff and management, promote teamwork within their unit, and reinforce peer-to-peer coaching and mentoring. They encourage their staff to participate in hospital initiatives and projects.

Through collaboration with staff and colleagues, NMs initiate new policies and procedures to ensure the smooth running of the facility.

Theoretical frameworks as a tool for nurse managers

Several frameworks exist, supporting and formalizing various theories of hospital management and providing guidelines for leaders and managers in the healthcare environment. Here are two well-known examples of healthcare frameworks.

  • Baldridge health care criteria for performance excellence

The Baldridge Health Care Criteria is a framework that provides an integrated approach to healthcare, encompassing the key areas for successful management: leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, measurement, analysis, and knowledge management, workforce and operations focus, and results. These guidelines ensure an overall approach to quality care and enable the nurse manager to engage with and guide unit staff.

  • Quint Studer’s five pillars

The five pillars of excellence, as outlined by Quint Studer, provide guidelines for setting organizational goals:

  • Service: Provide high-quality service to patients, family, the community, and each other, creating an ethos of pride, compassion, and dignity.
  • Quality: Achieve the highest quality in teaching, research, and clinical healthcare.
  • People: Create an environment that encourages high morale and productivity.
  • Finance: Maintain fiscally sound practices that are sustainable, enabling growth in all areas.
  • Growth: Create new opportunities and expand old ones, emphasizing collaborative partnerships that benefit research, educational, and clinical enterprises.

Measurement of success

It’s important to take note of the implemented practices to see whether they have been effective or need altering for improved results.

The Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard is a strategic planning and measuring system that monitors organizational performance against strategic goals. By measuring customer results, internal processes, staff and organization growth, financial results, and strategy, the nurse obtains a greater understanding of the various needs of the unit.

Another measurement tactic is the attainment of customer or patient feedback through survey questionnaires. The results of these surveys are analyzed and shared with the staff to ensure ongoing alignment with patient needs and organizational policies.

Nurse educator as a career

The job of ensuring that nurses stay updated with the latest nursing techniques and advances falls, once again, on the shoulders of the nurse manager. Ongoing learning is one of the facets of nursing that makes it so healthy and enables nurses to set goals and determine their future. If you develop an interest in management and theory, or even nursing education, perhaps consider a comprehensive online master in nursing education degree from Cleveland State University, giving you a well-rounded perspective on education, leadership, and management.

Managing a successful healthcare organization

Performance excellence and organizational sustainability are just two of the goals of the nurse manager. Striving to ensure optimum staff and patient outcomes while ensuring the smooth running of the administration and staying within budget are all part of a nurse manager’s busy day. Professional excellence and personal job satisfaction are also part of the deal—both attainable and worthwhile goals.

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