In recent times, healthcare has started to use broader determinants to improve the health of the population. This can be addressed with the help of multi-sectorial coordination. In 1974, Marc Lalonde, a former Canadian Minister of Health and Welfare, was the first to emphasize that healthcare organizations need to look beyond to have a positive impact on health. His report laid the foundation for healthcare providers, decision-makers and policymakers to have a discourse about the role that non-medical determinants of health have.
In a traditional healthcare setting, healthcare providers are considered drivers of health. However, health professionals spend a lot of time operationalizing mechanisms to ensure health. The new approach forces policymakers to consider the consequences of their decisions and be accountable for the health of the population. It requires healthcare professionals to engage other sectors while also using traditional approaches to disease control. As a result, healthcare professionals require a new skill set to interact with key influencers in other sectors as they make decisions to improve health and ensure that their decisions do not lead to ill health.
With experience, healthcare professionals move up the ladder and assume leadership positions. When that happens, they tend to shift from performing hands-on work to managing their teams and networking. Such a professional interacts with other healthcare professionals and decision-makers. This professional is well placed to influence and convince the people they interact with and that can generate interest in health and the actions that are required to ensure good health.
A healthcare professional in a leadership position also gets feedback from their team to understand what is lacking and what needs to be done. As a result, the entire team works towards implementation of health programs to improve the health of the population. When these programs succeed, it drives the leader toward success.
One hallmark of a leader is to identify opportunities and take advantage of them to achieve their goals. For instance, when there is an outbreak of a disease, it tends to get more attention. This outbreak can be used to leverage action and promote health not just for the patients in the healthcare facilities but also for the population at large.
When leaders attend conferences and seminars, they interact and network with other healthcare professionals. This gives them an opportunity to learn new disease control and treatment approaches. They can use these new approaches in their healthcare settings to improve the health and well-being of patients and reduce hospital-acquired infections, and also run health awareness programs to educate the population and prevent communicable diseases and lifestyle diseases.
When doctors and nurses are in leadership positions, they can promote effective interventions to address healthcare issues and conditions. They can influence healthcare facility policies and ensure appropriate resource allocation to provide optimal patient care.
Advocacy is not restricted to healthcare facilities and internal decision-makers. It can include media campaigns, publishing research, public speaking and running health awareness campaigns. Any information can be packaged in different ways based on the audience. That helps to convey the message more effectively.
In every aspect of life, a person negotiates. This enables the person to try and influence others so that his or her needs can be achieved while taking others’ needs into account. Negotiation is a basic skill that healthcare professionals in leadership positions require. Whether it is dealing with decision-makers, treating patients, interacting with patients’ families or working with a team, negotiation is a key skill for successful management.
When healthcare professionals, including nurse practitioners, negotiate, they should be clear about their goals and priorities. They should also identify possible outcomes and have a plan ready to deal with unfavorable outcomes. In some cases, there could be deadlock and that would require the healthcare professional to revisit their priorities as well as the other party’s priorities and then begin the discussion with areas of agreement and gradually move to areas of disagreement.
When using management and leadership skills to prevent diseases, healthcare professionals cannot effectively function if they do not upgrade their skills. This is one of the reasons online accelerated BSN nursing programs focus on cultivating leadership qualities in students. This not only helps them to develop critical thinking skills but also be ready to learn new things to improve treatment outcomes and prevent diseases.
Besides updating technical skills to keep pace with the ever-changing health sector, healthcare professionals also need to develop better emotional competency as it helps to improve their performance at work and allows them to be more compassionate when interacting with patients and their families. When healthcare professionals come across as caring professionals, people will be more willing to hear them out. This can be the differentiating factor in disease prevention and control.
Managing difficult colleagues
When a healthcare professional, be it a doctor or nurse practitioner, is in a leadership position, they need to effectively manage their teams. In a team, not every member will be agreeable. In such circumstances, healthcare professionals should be adept at dealing with and handling difficult colleagues. They will often use their leadership and management skills to do that.
It is best to separate the person from the problem so that non-issues do not compound into issues. Have a dialog with the person and agree on what the issues are that need to be addressed and resolved. Then work with the person to find options that are agreeable to both parties. This can allow the team to work effectively and efficiently and pave the way for smooth treatment and care of patients.
Being a role model
One of the most effective management skills is to be a role model to team members. Whether you are taking care of patients, trying to ensure work-life balance or staying fit on the job, it pays to set an example. You are letting your team members know that you want them to have the same values and skills which are essential in a healthcare facility and go a long way in caring for and treating patients and ensuring there is no reason to worry about hospital-acquired infections.
When a leader in a healthcare facility demonstrates the right values, skills and behaviors, their colleagues take them more seriously. As a result, it helps in providing the right care and treatment and also prevents the waste of resources.
Leadership and management strategies can go a long way in helping healthcare professionals not only provide the right care and treatment but also prevent diseases in the healthcare setting and outside it.