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The Impact Of Healthcare Policy And Regulation On The Practice Of Executive Nurse Leaders

The role of executive nurse leader goes hand in hand with the development and implementation of healthcare policy. What does this mean, and how can up-and-coming nurse leaders effectively navigate the ever-changing world of medical regulation?

Whether you work with executive nurse leaders, you are preparing to enter this type of position, or you simply wish to learn more about this varied and challenging job role and its relationship with official regulation in the medical industry, it is useful to understand the impact healthcare policy can have.

Here is a look at what it means to be an executive nurse leader, the importance of healthcare policy and regulation in this country, and the fundamental impact of the latter on the former.

What Is An Executive Nurse Leader?

Executive nurse leaders usually work on the senior management team of a healthcare-related establishment or organization. They work to ensure that all operations run smoothly, moving between the administration and financial side and the practical side of each process to support a comprehensive, balanced and productive system.

Many of these professionals oversee the work of other nurses to ensure the best possible quality of care in their organization.

Executive nurse leaders are also often tasked with managing budgets, making operational decisions and implementing policies. Most individuals employed in this capacity will hold a Doctor of Nursing Practice – Executive Nurse Leadership (DNP-ENL) degree, such as the one offered by Baylor University.

Careful research and regular communication are vital aspects of the working life of all executive nurse leaders. These specialists should also employ strong evidence-based management and decision-making methods, and meet regularly with key members of their team to tackle policy change collaboratively and transparently.

Anyone who wishes to qualify as an executive nurse leader or considering the PD for nursing executives will also need:

  • Strong leadership skills
  • An excellent approach to time management
  • Experience handling financial matters
  • A very good ongoing grasp of healthcare policy

The Role of Healthcare Policy and Regulation in the US

Healthcare policy is the means by which those overseeing the American medical field can ensure that diagnosis, treatment, medical finance, distribution of equipment, access and ongoing patient care can all be managed in an equally effective and efficient manner across the country.

Simply put, it is the set of guidelines that are laid down to make sure every state – and every healthcare provider within that state – follows the same steps and has access to the same resources and support.

Health policy is managed between the three branches of the US government – executive, legislative and judiciary – to ensure that all vital bases are covered.

The Executive Nurse Leader’s Relationship With Healthcare Policy

One of the most challenging aspects of healthcare regulation is the fact that it is always changing. This means that executive nurse leaders must stay up to date with adjustments and developments as part of their role.

Change is driven by a number of factors within the medical sector. This may include findings from data relating to patient satisfaction, new or upcoming threats to health (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), the need to adjust spending in certain areas in order to maintain a healthy budget, or the introduction of new facilities, techniques, equipment or billing systems.

Often, it is up to executive nurse leaders to respond to change and to ensure that it is correctly embraced throughout all departments with which they work.

Adaptability is an essential component of an executive nurse leader’s capacity to navigate regulatory environments, and they must ensure that their employer can work with a similar level of flexibility.

How Can Executive Nurse Leaders Engage With Healthcare Policy To Improve Patient Outcomes?

Healthcare regulations are largely created to ensure effective, easily manageable treatment methods and better outcomes for the patient.

Even financial policies are usually developed for the benefit of the end user, seeking to carefully “balance the books” and ensure that the right staff, equipment and treatments are within budget for all healthcare providers.


As an executive nurse leader, it is vital to remain well-informed and proactive regarding all existing and new policies. The more effective you are at this, the better the communication will be between you and your colleagues, among the colleagues themselves, and between those colleagues and their patients.

This will mean that everyone, at every step of the process, will be well managed and educated regarding current and upcoming medical regulations. With executive nurse leaders taking these steps at every healthcare organization, the same methods will be applied in the same manner across the board.

Standard of care

As a result, patients will receive a consistent standard of – and approach to – care, regardless of their provider. They will also remain well-informed of the approaches their nurses and doctors are taking and the reasons behind this, providing them with a greater sense of autonomy.

However, it isn’t just about good communication with patients. The effective dissemination of information about newly developed drugs, treatments, equipment and processes will give healthcare providers greater knowledge of the ways in which they may influence better outcomes.

In many cases, the policies and regulations that introduce or change that information will be presented and even developed by executive nurse leaders.


Finally, the importance of having an experienced and knowledgeable leadership figure overseeing other nurses in their day-to-day duties cannot be overstated, particularly when the supervisor is well-versed in healthcare policy.

To this end, executive nurse leaders can ensure the application of up-to-date regulations from start to finish, often from the time of their initial implementation to the associated decision-making at the point of care.

The Bottom Line

Executive nurse leaders are vital for the correct application of medical industry regulations and policy, in addition to providing expert oversight and guidance to others in their organization.

The more effectively new approaches, techniques and guidelines can be implemented throughout a workplace, the more clearly and swiftly the benefits of standardized practices and methods will be seen.