Many organizations committed to the effective care of patients and families will openly acknowledge that nursing is a calling. The mission of a nurse is more than a job, more than a paycheck, and more than an individual can accomplish on their own. Nurses thrive in workplace environments where professional relationships are strong and teamwork is considered a necessity. Patient care goals are attainable when nurse influence is maximized.
Nurses are in a unique position to influence both health policies and patient behavior because of their connection with patients. Nurses are present daily with patients and families as challenging diagnoses are received and life situations are navigated. A nurse is often the first interdisciplinary team member to learn of changes in a patient’s health status and the first to assess and respond with advocacy and empathy.
Because of this close connection with patients and families, nurses are often trusted as honest and ethical. The most recent Gallup poll revealed that nursing continues to be the most trusted profession, an honorable distinction that has been granted to nurses for more than twenty years. The 2023 survey results specifically indicate that 79% of Americans consider nurses to have high ethical standards, while 62% felt this way about medical doctors.
Nurse Influence Through Patient Education
One of the most important roles of a nurse is to provide patients with accurate, practical, and accessible education on a wide variety of health-related topics. Excellent nurses work with patients to develop meaningful goals and manage complex health conditions through evidence-based teaching strategies.
When holistic nursing care is delivered, the opportunity is broadened for nurses to deeply influence patients as they give attention to many factors, including:
- Physical health (care for the body)
- Socioeconomic background
- Home and community environments
- Psychological health (care for the mind and emotions)
- Spiritual care, including religious beliefs and practices
It is beneficial when nurses give extra effort to understand the communities and patient populations they serve. The time investment required to discover key areas where patient education and support are most critically needed is foundational for nurse influence today.
Nurse Influence in the Workplace
Nurses have the opportunity to uphold the highest standards of professionalism while showing up each day with the art of caring. This is true for interactions with patients and colleagues alike.
Servant leadership in the workplace is largely driven by the desire to support others and can be achieved when nurses exemplify the character and integrity that are essential in the field. As a nurse, you can contribute and help your team reach its full potential as you:
- Listen with empathy to your teammates
- Foster healing with an awareness of healthy boundaries
- Motivate others through communication of a vision for growth
- Prioritize your personal and professional development with humility
When conflict arises, nurses can influence outcomes for the best as they remember the mission of the organization and the collective goals of the team. Open and honest communication allows nurses to encourage one another as they persevere through challenges and come out stronger on the other side.
Nurse Influence on Public Health
Nurses have specific education and training that is useful in the creation of health policies and population health programs. This is especially valuable when coupled with the direct relational experience that many nurses have from time working with individuals and families that comprise their communities. Nurses are in a position to understand public health problems and take action to effect necessary change.
To connect with local initiatives and make a difference in the community, nurses might consider joining their state or national nurses association. Participation and membership in such organizations is a way for nurses to connect with like-minded colleagues who share similar passions and interests. Examples of collaboration that is made possible through these friendships and partnerships include:
- Writing for publication
- Translational research projects to address health disparities
- Continuing education course development
- Population-specific or faith-based initiatives
When nurses from different specialty areas collaborate, there is potential for greater reach and broader influence. For instance, an informatics nurse might collaborate with a pediatric nurse to develop computer-based games to help educate children on health promotion and disease prevention topics. Alternatively, a mental health nurse might partner with home health and hospice case managers to expand trauma-informed services in rural areas.
Nurse Influence Through Specialty Roles
There are several distinct career paths for nurses and different specialty roles that allow for specific types of influence. Advanced practice registered nurses have the potential for greater practice autonomy, while nurse educators carry the responsibility to promote clinical competency and excellence in the staff or students they influence.
Next, let’s explore some of these nursing roles in greater detail and the ways each type of role may position nurses for an important impact in the world today.
Nurse Practitioners Influence Patient Outcomes
To protect the public, each state’s regulatory agency sets forth rules and regulations to govern the advanced practice role and title of a nurse practitioner. In more than half of the United States, licensed and certified nurse practitioners (NPs) are granted the opportunity for full practice. This allows NPs to evaluate and treat patients with greater practice autonomy and waives the mandate for a collaborative agreement with a physician.
NPs with full practice privileges have the chance to open their own clinics and leverage their authority to impact patient outcomes. All NPs, even those in states with reduced or restricted practice environments, engage in evidence-based practice through the following types of patient care activities:
- Comprehensive history and physical examination
- Ordering and interpreting laboratory testing and other diagnostics
- Initiate treatments and manage disease processes
- Evaluate and revise plans of care to reach patient-centered health goals
The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) provides a comprehensive listing of the states and practice information for NPs. Knowing your state practice information is one of the first steps to exploring how you can help those around you through your nursing role.
Nurse Educators Train Nurses
The development of excellent nurses is an ongoing process requiring dedication and commitment by mentors and mentees alike. Nurse educators typically have clinical practice experience and a practical awareness of the skill set requiring mastery by the staff on any particular unit or clinical team.
Nurse educators are an integral part of the support system for competent clinical staff. They develop training opportunities and deliver in-services where nursing teams are challenged and motivated to grow and reach their full potential. In university settings, seasoned nurse educators share their expertise with upcoming nurses who will comprise the future nursing workforce and be part of the solution to the current nursing shortage.
Nurse Leaders Impact Staff and Systems
Leadership in executive-level positions has many realms of influence. They might work with financial and budgetary decisions that affect the resources and staffing available within an organization. Nurse leaders often set the tone and culture of a workplace. They are influential in preventing staff burnout and encouraging progress toward the organizational mission.
Nurse leaders also can influence the health care system they work within because they are positioned to interact with a variety of stakeholders. Visionary leaders can work toward long-term accomplishment by compelling the staff they work with to recognize and apply their strengths and skills for continuous quality improvement in health care.
If you are an aspiring nurse looking to do more to help those around you, there are likely opportunities to maximize your influence in your current role by striving for excellence in all that you do. Additional education and training may be the next step to reaching your goals.
Become a Nurse with More Influence at the University of Indianapolis
A degree from the University of Indianapolis may help increase your influence through greater training and opportunity. The effort to complete an academically challenging program is worth the outcome when you reap the rewards of a purposeful and influential nursing career.
One path is to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing and Health Systems Leadership degree to gain the skills to lead a nursing staff. Another is to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Educator degree to gain the skills to train new and current nurses.
Also available are nurse practitioner programs – either as a MSN or a terminal DNP degree and for both Family Nurse Practitioner or Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner specialties.
- MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
- MSN - AGPCNP
- BSN-DNP - Family Nurse Practitioner
- BSN-DNP - AGPCNP
- Post-Master’s DNP
The Online Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program allows those with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field to transition into nursing as a career with a fast-paced curriculum and multiple start dates each year. Fully online coursework, along with an on-campus residency experience and hands-on clinical time, prepare graduates for the nursing licensure examination. UIndy boasts pass rates above the national average for graduates of this nationally-ranked program.
An enrollment specialist is available to help you navigate the available program options. Visit the UIndy nursing programs page and discover how you can become a nurse with more influence.