How can advanced education help nurses develop into great healthcare leaders in senior roles?

Education is a key part of life and helps give people the knowledge needed to not only navigate the world but also succeed in their chosen careers. Education is also important for helping us develop as people and achieve our professional goals. While this is true for all sectors, education is especially crucial in nursing.

This is only common sense when you think about it more closely. Nursing is a highly skilled profession and one where specialist knowledge is required. It is also a must for nurses to have the right academic qualifications behind them before being able to work in their chosen roles. While this might mean gaining a bachelor’s degree in nursing initially, many nurses will then go on to more advanced nursing education to move into more senior leadership positions.

What is advanced nursing education? How can nursing professionals develop leadership skills through this type of learning, and how do these skills help when taking on senior healthcare roles?

What is advanced nursing education? 

Advanced nursing education simply refers to higher-level academic courses that focus on preparing nurses for more senior positions in the industry. What can be expected from these kinds of nursing leadership programs is best summed up by the online MSN-NHSL program offered at the University of Indianapolis. This master’s level course is geared toward higher-level learning that teaches students all they need to know about leadership in the nursing sector. With a part-time format ideal for working nurses and 100% online coursework, it helps students develop core skills, which nursing leader jobs usually call for.

There are many top education tips to pick up on in the modern world, but developing key leadership skills for senior roles in the health industry surely ranks up there with the best.

How can nurses develop essential leadership skills through advanced education? 

Although the above may set out what advanced nursing education is and the sort of courses it relates to, you may still wonder how professionals in this field can develop leadership skills through such courses. The biggest reason is that higher-level programs in nursing education are specifically designed to help students develop the skills needed for more senior positions.

This is not only in terms of the content modules these courses may cover but also the skills used when researching, writing assignments, giving presentations, and talking to students/staff. All of this helps people develop some very important skills as they progress through their course, which they can then use when moving into leadership positions in nursing.

It is also important to note that, as these sorts of courses are designed to offer more advanced skill development focused on health leadership in particular, the skills they help students refine are perfectly suited to this type of job.

What skills does advanced education help nurses looking to go into leadership roles develop? 

The above shows how you can access advanced education in nursing which is crucial for refining skills for leadership in the sector. It also shows how these kinds of programs help people looking to move into more senior nursing roles develop the skills required.

But what skills might these be exactly?


There are many essential leadership skills for any would-be manager to develop across all industries and this is certainly true in healthcare. Anyone who works as a leader in nursing knows that negotiation skills are especially useful to have in your locker. An advanced nursing education recognizes this and courses in this niche are ideal for honing one’s ability to negotiate successfully.

This may come in handy in future senior nursing roles in many ways—from negotiating a deal for a medical kit with a supplier to negotiating departmental budgets with senior finance staff or negotiating directly with staff managed on rotas. It really does pay to not only understand how effective negotiation works but also how to put these skills into practice.


It goes without saying that any senior nursing professional will need to have excellent decision-making skills. This is true for any leadership role, as practitioners will not be able to lead or manage people properly if they cannot make decisions. This is certainly the case in nursing, where senior figures in this field need to have the ability to make logical, reasoned decisions on often complex issues.

Having the ability to do this will not only inspire the managed staff,  but will also make for a strong appearance as a decisive leader to the staff. Being able to make effective decisions also enables nursing leaders to drive their department/unit forward and set a clear direction for it to follow.

Data analysis 

Data analysis skills are also crucial for leading in health settings but can sometimes be overlooked. As many leadership roles are not as involved in direct patient care and can involve more desk-based office work, data analysis skills are in fact valuable to develop.

As might be expected, skills in this area allow leaders to analyze data collected to help improve patient outcomes, make positive changes to working practices, boost patient care levels, and pick up on the latest healthcare trends.

Analysis can also help leaders see where money is being spent and potentially reduce costs based on this information. All of this helps them to stay ahead of the curve and always have their finger on the pulse of what is really going on in the industry or their department/organization.

Conflict resolution 

Skills in conflict resolution are important across all nursing roles but have started to become even more valuable for senior jobs in this field. As one would expect, having high-level skills in this area enables people to resolve conflicts calmly and to reach a solution both parties are satisfied with. This can range from a conflict between two staff members that require a manager to deal with to a conflict between two senior staff at a meeting they are chairing.

Conflict resolution may also relate to conflicts between staff, patients, families, or stakeholders with whom they are involved personally. Having the ability to handle conflict without stressing out others and without escalating the situation further is, therefore, a handy skill to have for nurses who lead.


Working as a senior figure in the nursing profession is rewarding, satisfying, and never dull. However, it can sometimes throw up complex problems that need to be figured out and tricky issues to navigate successfully. With this in mind, the ability to solve problems effectively along with creative thinking is important.

This could be anything from thinking of ways to solve parking problems for nursing staff at a hospital to how best to handle problems with a delayed piece of equipment on a ward. Without this skill, one will struggle to see the way forward when issues arise and have a tough time overcoming any challenges that the role presents.

Critical thinking 

This next skill goes hand in hand with problem-solving and is nearly the foundation on which that skill is built. Critical thinking is crucial because it allows health leaders to look at any situation critically and, in a calm, logical manner. It also means leaders take care to look at the stats, facts, and data of a situation to base their decisions on.

Critical thinking is so important because it helps healthcare leaders take their time when making decisions and base them on logic. It also helps leaders think deeply about an issue and not make snap judgments which might be based on a shallow understanding of the problem. All of this helps leaders make the right calls and avoid making mistakes by jumping to conclusions or making decisions based on emotions.


When thinking of becoming a leader in nursing, it is necessary to be able to communicate well. This helps be understood by colleagues, team members, patients, families, and stakeholders. It also means the ability to get a point across in a clear, concise manner.

This avoids any misunderstandings in terms of what is said and means people always know what is being talked about. In the modern nursing sector, it is key to be able to communicate well not only in person but also via email, text, letter, and video call.


Nursing is a profession where teamwork is essential for the best patient care. Collaboration skills therefore become very important for leaders in this field. Developing the ability to work effectively with others is important, as it means they can collaborate on key projects for the best outcomes.

Understanding how to work well with others also means sharing this knowledge with any managed staff. This in turn helps the team operate more efficiently and the staff to develop professionally under a leader’s guidance.

Information technology (IT)

As with data analysis, people can often overlook IT skills when thinking about managerial roles across the health industry. In the modern industry though, managers must be familiar with the most common IT platforms/packages. This covers everything from MS Office to video conferencing platforms, emails, and mobile apps.

It is highly likely leaders will use some (if not all) of this kind of technology in an advanced nursing course. This is especially true if studying in a flexible, online, higher-level course. As a result, completing this kind of learning is the ideal way to refine existing IT skills and prepare to use them in managerial jobs across healthcare.

How does developing these skills help when taking on leadership roles in healthcare? 

The above skills are all useful to develop when thinking of taking on leadership roles in healthcare settings—but how do they help specifically?

To begin with, skills such as these are in demand from healthcare employers and sought after by healthcare leaders. By developing this skill set through advanced nursing education, future leaders can become more employable in terms of senior jobs and ensure their resume stands out to would-be employers.

It is also essential to note that developing the skills listed above prepares leaders to do well in any future leadership position and ensures effective job performance. This will not only provide a career boost and aid the enjoyment of any managerial role, but it will also offer the best care to patients. Having the skills to lead effectively will mean the area/department that a healthcare leader is responsible for will be well-run and offer positive patient outcomes.

How else can developing core skills for future managerial jobs in healthcare settings help? 

Performing well in any role is a combination of having the right skills/knowledge to perform and the confidence these skills bring to thrive. Picking up the most vital nursing leadership skills through high-level education, therefore, is the best way to gain the confidence to excel in more senior positions. This kind of confidence helps not only feel prepared to move into higher-level leadership jobs but also provides what it takes to do well.

Developing in-demand skills for managerial roles in health also means leaders gain the respect of their colleagues and any staff they manage. As people observe leaders in their daily roles, for example, they observe a high-level leadership skillset and see that leaders possesses all the necessary tools to perform well.

Staff also see how the skills developed enable a manager to behave as a true leader and inspire those around them. All of this is key to helping establish the right kind of image with staff, colleagues, patients, stakeholders, and families.

Education is the key to success

There is no doubt that advanced nursing education plays a key role in the whole sector. It is the essential path that any nurse who is thinking about moving into leadership roles in healthcare settings should take.

This is not only because of the extra knowledge and trends in nursing that advanced learning exposes but also the way it helps students refine and build the most crucial skills for leadership. Once these skills are developed through higher education programs, they come in useful for managerial positions across the health industry in a number of ways.

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About the Author: mike