The difference between leadership and management in nursing an prioritizing and managing client care.

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Client care management is fast emerging as a subset of healthcare industry whereby nurses are entrusted with the task of exhibiting both leadership and management skills in prioritizing and managing client care. It does not involve passive care giving on doctors’ orders rather it is an evolutionary concept in nursing giving full autonomy and decision making authority to them. Managing critical shifts, information sharing and leading through influence call for clear demarcation between the roles of a leader and a manager in client care.

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Leadership in its essence involves gathering people from different domains and motivating them to achieve organizational goals through knowledge sharing and expertise. Specifically, a leader is one who lends a helping hand to those who are not able to realize their potential and go for their aims. In nursing, while the staff nurse is the leader to entry level nurses, the latter are leaders to ultimate clients.

Management takes on a more individualized form when nursing is talked of. This is so because in nursing, client care is to be accomplished which is the duty of every single nurse and as such, nurses are required to have the competencies of time management, communication skills and other management skills of planning, organizing and others. In this essence, management in nursing involves judicious and critical use of scare resources optimally for the benefit of the client and the organization.

Leadership and management are used synonymously most of the times. However, the two carry different meanings in nursing parlance. In terms of client care management, entry level nurses are equipped with expertise, experience and knowledge which provide guidelines for them to act as client care managers. On the other hand, awareness of organizational policies, protocols and regulations encourage in them the personality of a leader whereby they are able to direct their followers and align their individual goals with that of organizational goals.

During entry level, nurses are required to take care of the clients directly through observations and careful usage of the available resources. They have to manage the aspects if time, shifts, materials, supervision and services for clients which are not commanded as in case of passive nursing (Richardson et al. 2007). Thus, they act in the role of decision makers for cost effective use of resources without feeling overburdened and not letting the client feel unobserved. This demonstrates the management skills adopted by nurses in delivering ambulatory services.

Leadership in nursing comes into scene when entry level nurses earn reputable position and followers. Leadership role entails directing individual objectives with that of organizational objectives. Developing informal and quality interrelationships also fall under the domain of nursing leadership role. Assuming leadership role by nurses requires charisma, trustworthiness, truthful and influential personality to guide the nurses working under. As such, leadership in nursing takes place after entry level as it demands creating clarity, commitment, self-image, price and behavior (Marshall & Coughlin 2011, p.20).

Managing and prioritizing information in client care also holds importance as proper documentation and gathering information at bedsides is now counted in organizational polices and is considered crucial to patient safety and quality of care given (Ebright 2010). Real time reporting and management of client information is now gaining many grounds in decision making and encouraging nurse-client interaction and involvement.

Contrasting leadership and management roles in nursing seemed a bit easier currently as job duties for both the roles are clearly defined and differentiated. Initial performance is characterized by managerial capabilities while succeeding the career ladder brings forth greater responsibilities in terms of providing guidance to the followers and managing the overall client care process. However, the demarcating line between the two roles will soon get blurred because of the competition ahead and thus, leadership and management have to coincide to provide sustaining results.


Ebright, P.R. (2010). The complex work of RNs: Implications for healthy work environments. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 15 (1), p.11. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Marshall, E & Coughlin, J.F. (2011). Transformational leadership in nursing: From expert clinician to influential leader. New York: Springer Publishing

Richardson, A, Turnock, C, Harris, L, Finley, A & Carson, S. (2007). A study examining the impact of 12-hour shifts on critical care staff. Journal of Nursing Management, 15, 838-846. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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