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Head Nurse’s Role in Emergency Department Essay


The targeted healthcare role for this analysis is that of a head nurse of an emergency department (ED). A head nurse uses his or her competencies to coordinate nursing teams, impalement adequate practices, manage resources, and promote evidence-based healthcare delivery processes. On top of their functions as healthcare workers, head nurses manage departments and foster collaboration to ensure quality services are available to more critical care patients (Landis, Hill, & Harvey, 2014). The head nurse goes further to implement adequate leadership and managerial practices that have the potential to improve the health service delivery process. Management is defined as “a process of actions and allocating resources to achieve organizational goals” (Kelly, 2011, p.13). On the other hand, leadership is “a process of influence in which the leader influences others toward goal achievement” (Kelly, 2011, p.2). Head nurses should be able to merge these two practices in an attempt to realize their healthcare goals. The purpose of this analytical paper is to describe the role scope of head nurses in different emergency departments. The specific objectives include analyzing role benefits, outcomes, experiences, and developmental needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Useful insights that can guide nurse leaders to become pioneers and promoters of evidence-based critical care will be presented in the paper.

Thesis statement: Practitioners who want to become head nurses in emergency departments should focus on various competencies and strengths, be aware of the role scope, address their weaknesses, and implement powerful healthcare delivery models to meet the needs of both the targeted clients and their followers.

Role Scope

Every head nurse in an emergency department has a huge responsibility. The role required head nurses to ensure every targeted objective is realized on time. The philosophy behind this role is coordinating nursing teams in an attempt to deliver evidence-based medical support. The responsibilities of the head nurse can be subdivided into four unique roles. These include administration, management, communication, and human resources (Lawal et al., 2014). When these roles are coordinated professionally, a head nurse in a hospital will promote and support the development of better healthcare delivery processes (Moen & Knudsen, 2013). Head nurses can delegate various responsibilities depending on the competencies of different healthcare workers.

Role incumbents will be expected to undertake some responsibilities or activities. To begin with, individuals working as head nurses will direct nursing services and activities in the targeted emergency room (“Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia,” 2016). They go further to complete various tasks such as handling clinical records and addressing complaints. More often than not, these professionals in EDs delegate a wide range of responsibilities to different nurses in the department. It is appropriate for them to supervise and monitor how patients are prepared for operations (Schnall et al., 2012). The head nurse is the one who should write timely reports detailing the performance of different workers in the ED. Health records of different clients receiving critical care should be managed by these heads. The overall progress of the department depends on the willingness, zeal, and ability of the head nurse (Andel, Davidow, Hollander, & Moreno, 2012). The other unique role-specific activity is maintaining the required inventory practices for medicines, equipment, supplies, and other critical resources.

It is appropriate to understand that the role of a head nurse is widely regulated by different agencies and healthcare institutions. This kind of regulation is necessary because it promotes professionalism, especially in the emergency department. Successful candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing from a recognized institution (Found, 2012). The professionals must be registered and licensed before practicing in their respective regions or states. They should have worked as nurses in healthcare settings for at least five years. This professional requirement is critical towards ensuring that competent individuals are allowed to take up various leadership roles in an ED. To deliver positive results, successful candidates must be conversant with various procedures, concepts, and practices embraced in the nursing field (Walsh et al., 2015). The possession of such competencies makes it easier for head nurses to make appropriate judgments and complete various roles in the targeted ED successfully.

Professional regulation is taken seriously to ensure the major principles of healthcare practice apply to the conduct of head nurses. They should act ethically, be aware of every legal framework, and maintain integrity whenever supporting the performance of their followers. At the workplace, the head nurse is the one who dictates the duties and activities of different actors. They guide, manage, and control various activities in the emergency department (Bamford, Wong, & Laschinger, 2013). This kind of workplace governance is something that dictates how various critical care processes are completed in the targeted department. The ultimate role of the head nurse is to lead and direct the activities of other healthcare workers in the emergency department (Bamford et al., 2013). The head nurse must, therefore, be creative, courageous, and capable of promoting healthcare delivery in Australia.

Role Benefits and Outcomes

Many health institutions identify effective and successful nurses to become leaders in their emergency departments. Individuals who become head nurses in the emergency department will benefit significantly from this position. To begin with, the head nurse stands a chance to earn a competitive salary. The median annual salary of head nurses is around 92,000 and 101,000 US dollars (Pegram, 2015). Experts believe strongly that the competitive nature of this role will ensure more professionals are getting better salaries in the future (Andel et al., 2012). The professionals also receive better remunerations and allowances. Such benefits explain why more people will be focusing on this role in healthcare practice.

Nursing is one of the few fields and professions that offer numerous opportunities for career growth. Head nurses undertake a wide range of roles that prepare them for a wide range of roles in the industry. The opportunities and challenges associated with the duties undertaken in the emergency department make it easier for head nurses to acquire new competencies. Experts believe strongly that many head nurses find it easier to tackle their unique weaknesses such as anger and lack of integrity (Found, 2012). The professionals acquire new competencies and skills that can transform their respective health delivery models. The role presents new opportunities for the professionals to mentor, guide, and empower their followers (Wong, 2015). The practice eventually creates the best EDs that address the emerging needs of more patients.

The other unique benefit associated with this role is that it has the potential to advance the nursing field. The dexterities and practices of head nurses can be emulated by caregivers in an attempt to transform nursing practice (Landis et al., 2014). This goal will make nursing a powerful profession that addresses the emerging health needs of many underserved populations. It is also notable that the role of the head nurse improves the performance of many nurses in the emergency department. By so doing, head nurses have what it takes to transform the emergency department experience and deliver quality patient care (Martin, McCormack, Fitzsimons, & Spirig, 2014).

The head nurse role is associated with the timely delivery of medical care in an emergency department. When the workers in the department are empowered, it becomes easier for them to understand the challenges affecting their clients and provide personalized care (Buchan, Twigg, Dussault, Duffield, & Stone, 2015). The ultimate goal of the ED is to ensure more patients receive timely and evidence-based care to the targeted patients.

Positive working experiences and conditions can emerge in a targeted healthcare institution. The working environment promotes new values such as commitment, collaboration, teamwork, and empowerment (Wong, 2015). These new principles can make a difference in the emergency department. This analysis shows conclusively that the head nurse role delivers new opportunities to every individual in the ED setting.

Professionals in the nursing field should, therefore, borrow these ideas to promote new practices and eventually improve the experiences of many patients in need of critical care.

Role Experiences and Development Needs

As mentioned earlier, professional healthcare workers who want to become head nurses must possess various experiences to support the health needs of the targeted patients (Bradshaw, 2015). Before taking up the role of a head nurse, it is appropriate for a person to be aware of the unique competencies that define the profession. For instance, head nurses should be able to provide evidence-based care. They should possess adequate leadership, decision-making, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills (Bortoluzzi, Caporale, & Palese, 2014). Nurse leaders should be able to promote the best healthcare delivery processes or models for their patients. It is appropriate for them to be aware of the ethical, legal, and practice-specific guidelines defining their roles.

To have these experiences, nurses must have provided quality care in a busy emergency department for five years or more. This experience makes it easier for them to provide evidence-based support to more patients in need of quality care (Wong, 2015). After becoming head nurses, they find it easier to improve their competencies and achieve new skills that can make a difference in medical practice.

It is agreeable that practical roles are critical for individuals who work in this role. Head nurses in ED departments should be able to connect with their clients. They should be able to offer culturally competent care without portraying their personal biases. This approach can make it easier for them to support more patients from diverse backgrounds (Bortoluzzi et al., 2014). Head nurses have to ensure the best healthcare delivery processes are implemented depending on the unique needs of the targeted patients. The use of various nursing theories and models is critical towards ensuring that the unique needs of critical care patients are taken seriously. For instance, Nola Pender’s health promotion model can be embraced to focus on the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of the targeted patients (Cocowitch, Orton, Daniels, & Kiser, 2013). The use of such models promotes the wholeness and wellbeing of the targeted patients in an emergency department.

Several components have been outlined because they have the potential to improve the nature of healthcare delivery. For instance, healthcare professionals working as head nurses must learn to be calm and promote affection (Tyssen, Wald, & Spieth, 2014). They should use their efforts and competencies to understand the unique needs of their clients. They can also use such skills to empower their followers and encourage them to comfort their clients. Head nurses can embrace the idea of multidisciplinary teams whenever providing care to their respective patients (Morton, Brekhus, Reynolds, & Dykes, 2014). This kind of commitment is what transforms healthcare delivery in an emergency department.

Head nurses should embrace the power of lifelong learning. This concept is embraced by different theorists because it encourages professionals in healthcare to acquire new ideas that can transform their philosophies. The emerging ideas in nursing can be borrowed to make a difference in the profession. The practical needs of the head nurse should be evidence-based and focus on the changing needs of the targeted clients (Apostolo, Mendes, Bath-Hextall, Rodrigues, & Cardoso, 2013). By so doing, the practice can transform the nature of nursing leadership and promote the outcomes of many patients.

Head nurses have a role to play in the emergency department. As promoters of healthcare, it is appropriate for head nurses to promote the best working environments for their followers (Milton-Wildey & O’Brien, 2012). They should focus on the best approaches to empower their staff members. The leadership approach embraced by the head nurse in the ED will dictate the level of job satisfaction. Head nurses who focus on the best goals and empower their followers effectively are usually satisfied with their positions (Haycock-Stuart & Kean, 2013). This is the case because they record positive results within the shortest time possible. Their competencies and skillsets make it easier for them to realize their potentials.

Competent head nurses in healthcare environments use their dexterities to train their staff members. Training staff members is a powerful practice that transforms the effectiveness of many healthcare institutions (Ericsson & Augustinsson, 2015). When these leaders implement powerful training programs for their followers, they find it easier to record positive results and eventually maximize their outcomes. Additionally, the practice makes it easier for many emergency departments to continue providing evidence-based care to their patients.

Learning at work is another development need for head nurses (Milton-Wildey & O’Brien, 2012). Whenever providing adequate support to the targeted clients and workers, these professionals identify new ideas that can make them successful leaders. It is therefore appropriate for head nurses in emergency departments to read new materials and identify emerging trends in the healthcare sector. The use of social media networks is something that can widen their competencies and transform the nature of healthcare delivery. Modern informatics should be embraced and implemented in the ED (Parand, Dopson, Renz, & Vincent, 2014). Such technologies foster continuous learning and eventually transform the healthcare delivery process.

Head nurses should, therefore, be analyzed as professionals who are still pursuing their career goals. They can focus on their unique development needs and implement strategies to address the existing gaps. For instance, evidence-based ideas obtained from the working environment should be used to inform their future decisions. They should be ready to learn from their followers and physicians (Daly, Jackson, Mannix, Davidson, & Hutchinson, 2014). By so doing, they will find it easier to acquire new concepts that can eventually make them competent providers of critical care. They can also enroll in new educational courses because nursing is an ever-changing field (Tyssen et al., 2014). These practices will make lifelong learning a critical attribute of every head nurse’s nursing philosophy.

Role Strengths and Weaknesses

Registered nurses (RNs) who want to become leaders in medical practice should possess various competencies. They should fulfill various requirements to become skilled providers of quality services. These requirements explain why many head nurses in different departments such as the ED possess a wide range of strengths (Cocowitch et al., 2013). The position also makes it easier for them to acquire new concepts and skills that transform their philosophies.

Professionals who take up head nurse roles have specific strengths that arise from different training programs and practices. The first strength is the knowledge of the major competencies associated with healthcare practice in Australia. They are highly-skilled and capable of addressing the health needs of their patients. Many leaders in healthcare can communicate effectively with their workmates and followers. They can interact with others positively and promote service delivery (Spetz, 2014). This means that head nurses are successful communicators who can address people’s problems adequately. The professionals should be aware of the challenges affecting their teams. The ability to stay away from different conflicts and manage difficult situations is another powerful strength associated with the head nurse role.

Compassion and empathy are powerful skills possessed by many head nurses. These can be treated as strengths because they make it easier for head nurses to guide and empower their clients. They use the strength to interact with both workers and clients. This practice makes it easier for professionals to identify and address the major problems that affect the quality of care available in the emergency department. It is agreeable that many people at the workplace will display a wide range of emotions such as anger, fear, depression, and anxiety (Carman et al., 2013). To cope with such issues, head nurses must be empathetic and professionally deal with their followers.

Leading is another powerful strength associated with the head nurse role. The emergency department provides care to critical care patients. Some patients die in the department due to the nature of their health conditions. Without proper leadership, the workers in the department might be forced to deal with burnout and stress (Bouphan, Apipalakul, & Ngang, 2015). The ability to lead, inspire, guide, and mentor others is, therefore, one of the unique strengths associated with this nursing role.

Time management has been described as one of the key strengths associated with leaders in nursing practice (Spetz, 2014). With proper management of time, head nurses find it easier to acquire adequate resources and use them to promote healthcare delivery (Bouphan et al., 2015). This strength is what makes a difference in many emergency departments. Individuals working as head nurses have another unique strength that supports their career goals (Nelson et al., 2013). Their nursing practices equip them with new ideas and concepts that can make it easier for them to support the changing health needs of their clients.

New opportunities emerge for many head nurses working in different emergency departments. The working environment is an opportunity for them to continue acquiring new concepts that can support their leadership obligations (Lizarondo, Grimmer, & Kumar, 2014). This can be treated as a major strength that encourages more nurses to focus on this role.

Several weaknesses can affect the effectiveness of head nurses working in different emergency departments. More often than not, leaders might lose their focus and career development goals especially when they delegate duties (Carman et al., 2013). This happens to be the case because the leaders can forget the importance of lifelong learning (Ericsson & Augustinsson, 2015). By so doing, they will find it hard to realize their professional goals. Some head nurses might become narrow-minded and eventually affect the performance of the emergency department.

The occurrence of differences in a healthcare setting can affect the effectiveness of head nurses. Such problems might arise when workers are not empowered or guided. The presence of differences can make it hard for head nurses to realize their goals. Failure to guide different staff members will eventually affect the quality of services delivered to different patients. Throughout their practices, head nurses should focus on the best initiatives and approaches to continue delivering the most appropriate patient care to the targeted clients (Keeler, 2013). Some healthcare workers might fail to support new ideas and concepts in the working environment. This development can disorient most of the activities undertaken in the department.

Occupational stress cannot be ignored because it affects the performance and effectiveness of many head nurses. The nature of the activities undertaken in the emergency department can cause stress and burnout. Failure to offer the most appropriate support to different workers will result in reduced morale. This issue will amount to occupational stress for the head nurse (Lizarondo et al., 2014). Leaders in healthcare can use various change models such as Kurt Lewin’s theory. Whenever implementing the proposed change, some caregivers and nurses might be against it. The head nurse will be stressed throughout the change implementation period.

Some workers might be against every proposed idea. They might even fail to provide adequate care to targeted patients. Such gaps will affect the goals of the head nurse and make it impossible for the ED to meet the needs of its clients (Boone, 2012). The role of a head nurse requires continuous development and acquisition of new concepts. Continuous implementation and evaluation should be embraced to improve the quality of care in the department. Without a proper plan, the head nurse will find it impossible to achieve the targeted goals.

Head nurses must act as leaders and managers in an institution’s emergency department. They have to complete a wide range of roles and responsibilities. Sometimes they might be forced to work overtime in an attempt to ensure the targeted clients receive quality medical services. These roles and duties can result in occupational stress (Kundu, 2015). The problem of nursing shortage has continued to affect the global healthcare sector. Nurse leaders might be forced to identify new initiatives to address this problem. More often than not, head nurses are required to address the major challenges facing their followers and teams (Lawal et al., 2014). If appropriate strategies are not put in place, the department will be unable to achieve its objectives.

Kundu (2015) goes further to encourage head nurses in different health departments to use their competencies and skills to address the major problems affecting their followers. They should use their problem-solving skills to handle conflicts and guide their team members. A proper plan will ensure the stresses associated with the profession are addressed on time. The concept of work-life balance should be supported in the emergency department (Duffield, Roche, Twigg, Williams, & Clarke, 2016). The strategy will ensure more individuals do not work for more hours. The head nurse will delegate various activities and focus on the changing needs of many patients.


Registered nurses who want to become leaders should focus on various competencies and skills to meet the needs of both the clients and healthcare workers. It is appropriate for head nurses to be aware of the best procedures in healthcare practice. They should also be aware of the major developments and policies that dictate the industry. Head nurses leading and empowering followers in different emergency departments should possess adequate delegation and supervisory skills. By so doing, the leaders will be able to deliver quality healthcare services. The head nurse should embrace the best human resources practices and develop new skills that can transform the nature of critical care delivery in the emergency department. They should continuously solve problems, manage their followers, and provide adequate solutions whenever things get out of hand. These practices will improve the competencies of many head nurses and improve healthcare delivery in emergency departments.


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