The business of health care in America has changed over the years, and with the passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act, continues to grow and evolve. Nurses from RN to MSN continue to find themselves in a variety of managerial roles. In order to survive and succeed, business skills not related to the practice of medicine are no longer a luxury but a necessity for career advancement and success.
While the health of patients is most important, a business that loses money doesn’t last long. Nurses at all levels must learn at least the basics of financial management in business. An understanding of financial terms and definitions is a good place to start. Expand your financial knowledge by learning how to read and understand a basic budget as well as how to develop a budget for a department or a business. A basic accounting course will go a long way.
Nurses in managerial roles are supervisors of employees and must understand something about human resources. In larger institutions with a human resources department, you need less knowledge than in smaller clinics and physician’s offices. Make sure to learn about recruitment and retention of good employees as well as how to handle conflict when problems arise – and they will. If you find yourself interviewing potential new employees, an understanding of state and federal human resource rules and regulations becomes imperative.
While you may think you can’t learn leadership skills, think again. Nurses must lead their patients as well as those they supervise. Leadership skills are different from managerial skills. A leader inspires people to do better, do more, and excel. A manager makes sure employees follow all policies and rules. Both are necessary to your success in nurse management.
One business skill that you might not know about is strategic planning which is an all-inclusive term for the plans a business needs to work smoothly. Business plans, which include marketing, budgeting, inventory, and more, are necessary for the day-to-day functions of a clinic or hospital. You’ll also want to learn and understand emergency preparedness plans for natural or not-so-artificial disasters. Finally, learn how to write organizational goals and objectives, sometimes known as a Strategic Plan. These goals are key to the direction an organization takes, as well as its success in the future.
In a world of rapidly changing technology, one key business skill is the ability to keep up with and adapt to new technology. In the medical field, this is important to a patient’s healthcare, but it’s also important in the back office as well. As a manager and leader, embrace new software and equipment that keeps a business running smoothly so that the focus of an organization remains on healthcare.
As a nurse today, if you want to advance your career, it’s not enough to simply have medical skills. You’re going to need business skills to succeed, as well.