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Four key skills needed for nurse-led cross-sector projects

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Nurse leaders need four key skills to effectively drive cross-sector collaborations to boost levels of health in their community, according to US researchers.

About 70% of all variations in healthcare outcomes are explained by individual patient’s social conditions including housing, neighborhood conditions, and income, noted the researchers.

“Healthcare providers can be important leaders and ‘bridgers’ in collaborations”

Antonia Villarruel

To establish “community cultures of health” where people are empowered to live healthier lives, they said cross-sector collaborations were needed to address the social issues affecting population health.

They said their new research had highlighted the types of skills necessary for nurse leaders to successfully encourage such collaborations.

Their study, published in the journal Health Promotion Practice, focused on the experiences of members of the American Academy of Nursing’s “edge runner” programme.

It recognises nurses who have designed or are leading care models that have demonstrated positive clinical and financial outcomes.

By studying the experiences of “edge runner” nurses who have developed cross-sector collaborations, the researchers identified four key skills that enabled leaders to successfully manage such projects.

These skills included “being bilingual”, with “edge runner” nurses finding they needed to be able to “speak the language of both the community and the institutions of power”.

Successful “edge runners” were also able to demonstrate to community leaders their long-term commitment to the population they served and a willingness to listen and understand their needs.

In addition, they needed to have “business sense”, as they were often required make the financial case for their programmes, particularly in explaining how to sustain or expand them.

Lastly, the researchers identified the need for a “shared vision and language”, with nurse leaders having to be able to communicate shared visions with potential collaboration partners.

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

Antonia Villarruel

Antonia Villarruel

Study author Professor Antonia Villarruel, from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, said: “Healthcare providers can be important leaders and ‘bridgers’ in collaborations, but they must possess the knowledge, attitudes and skills of facilitators, partners, and relationship-builders.

“The study results have a number of important implications for policy and health professional education,” said Professor Villarruel.

“It also provides initial insights into how healthcare providers can collaborate with both health and non-health entities, on the ground at community level and at the funder level, to benefit local communities and populations,” she added.

The study also involved researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the Rand Corporation and the George Washington University School of Nursing.

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