Leadership Roles in Nursing

As the healthcare industry evolves, nurses with strong leadership qualities, broad knowledge, and practice expertise are in high demand. Health care is experiencing an extraordinary growth in knowledge, technologies, diversity, and global health challenges which together provide nurses with ample opportunities and challenges to foster change and evolve our healthcare system.

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program's curriculum focuses on leadership, management, and evaluation methods to improve health care at multiple levels. Didactic courses, supervised clinical practice, and simulations are integrated so that students develop the nursing knowledge, skills, and attitudes to achieve the competencies of the master’s prepared nurse.


The field of nursing is growing incredibly quickly, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a growth of 19% between now and 2022. However, due to the aging nursing workforce and the increased number of older adults in the general population, growth in nursing will still not meet the demand for nurses (AACN, 2017). More employers are moving towards hiring highly educated nurses to create an advanced practice workforce. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) believes that nurses must achieve higher levels of education and training in order to meet the demands of a changing healthcare system (IOM, 2010). Working in the frontlines of the healthcare industry, nurses have a direct effect on patient care and outcomes which makes them uniquely positioned to facilitate wide-reaching changes in the healthcare system.

In the current health care sector, as patient needs and care environments become more complex, there’s a growing demand for nurses who can lead in areas of health policy, process improvements, research, and evidence based practice. Additionally, nurse leaders have to be well-versed in technological tools and information management systems in order to collaborate with a variety of healthcare professionals to improve patient outcomes (IOM, 2010). Master’s-prepared nurses understand the intersection between systems science and organizational science in order to serve as integrators within and across systems of care. This preparation provides graduates with a deeper understanding of the nursing discipline in order to engage in higher-level practice in a variety of settings.

Some key components of leadership development for a Master’s prepared nurse, include:

  • Leading change to improve safety and quality outcomes
  • Advancing a culture of excellence through lifelong learning
  • Building and leading collaborative interprofessional teams
  • Navigating and integrating care services across the healthcare system
  • Designing evidence-based innovative nursing practices
  • Translating evidence into practice; Preparing individuals, families, or cohorts of clients for self-care at the maximum level of functioning and wellness using learning theories and instructional design principles
  • Anticipating risk for individuals and cohorts of patients; Providing lateral integration of care for individuals and cohorts of patients
  • Managing information systems and technologies to improve healthcare outcomes
  • Providing fiscal stewardship and leveraging of human, environmental, and material resources
  • Advocating for patients, communities as well as healthcare professional teams
  • Managing point of a care at the microsystem and individual-patient level


The School of Nursing and Health Professions at USF provides seamless academic and practice pathways to accommodate individuals with various educational backgrounds. These educational backgrounds include hospital-based diploma programs (including associate's degree) in nursing (ADN), baccalaureate degree in nursing (BSN), as well as baccalaureate degree in any discipline other than nursing. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program consists of a foundational graduate nursing curriculum focusing on leadership, management, and evaluative methods to improve care at multiple levels across the continuum of healthcare settings. Didactic courses, supervised clinical practice, and simulations integrate and enhance advanced knowledge, skills, and attitudes to achieve the competencies of the master’s level.

An MSN degree at USF can provide the following benefits to nurses aspiring to advance in the field:

  • Allow nurses to become full partners with physicians and other health professionals, most of whom hold master's or doctoral degrees, in redesigning health care in the United States
  • To prepare nurses to use complex information management systems that require analytical skills to improve the quality and effectiveness of care
  • To prepare nurses for expanded roles and leadership in areas such as public health, geriatrics, health policy, system improvement, research, and evidence-based practice

The mission of the School of Nursing & Health Professions (SONHP) is to advance nursing and health professions education within the context of the Jesuit tradition. The school uses dynamic and innovative approaches in undergraduate and graduate education to prepare professionals for current and future practice domains. The goal is to effectively link classroom, clinical and field experiences with expectations for competence, compassion, and justice in health care, protection and promotion within the context of the highest academic standards.


Anderson, D., Khatri, K., Blankson, M. (2015). Using Clinical Microsystems to Implement Care Coordination in Primary Care . Journal of Nursing Care 4: 296. doi:10.4172/2167-1168.1000296

American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2011). The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing. Retrieved from: http://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/Publications/MastersEssentials11.pdf

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. White paper on the education and role of the clinical nurse leader. 2007. Available at: http://www.aacn.nche.edu. Accessed March 20, 2008.

Camicia, M., Chamberlain, B., Finnie, R.R., Nalle, M., Lindeke, L.L., et al. (2013). The value of nursing care coordination: A white paper of the American Nurses Association. Nursing Outlook 61: 490-501.

Nelson, E.C., Godfrey, M.M., Batalden, P.B., Berry, S.A., Bothe, A.E. Jr, et al. (2008). Clinical microsystems, part 1. The building blocks of health systems. Joint Commission Journal Quality Patient Safety 34: 367-378.

Sollecito, W. A., & Johnson, J. K. (2013). Continuous quality improvement in health care (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Institute of Medicine(IOM).(2010). Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing. The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Washington, DC; The National Academies Press.

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School of Nursing and Health Professions

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2130 Fulton St.
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