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Nursing leadership: bringing caring back to the future
  1. Alison Kitson, professor and director
  1. Royal College of Nursing, 20 Cavendish Square, London W1M 0AB, UK
  1. Professor A Kitson alison.kitson{at}


Leadership, whether it is nursing, medical or healthcare leadership, is about knowing how to make visions become reality. The vision that many nurses hold dear to their hearts is one where patients are treated with dignity and respect at all times; where systems are designed for the benefit of individual needs; and where the work performed by nurses and other carers is valued and respected. Achieving such a vision will require a paradigm shift in the philosophy, priorities, policies, and power relationships of the health service. Fundamentally, it will require the rhetoric of patient centred care to become a reality. The following scenario is set in the UK in the year 2012 and describes a health service that is on the pathway to achieving this vision. It tells the story from a nursing perspective and outlines the three key foundation stones that helped nursing achieve the vision of a patient centred health service: (1) development of patient centred care measures as part of performance management and the clinical governance agenda; (2) leadership based on personal growth and development principles; (3) new clinical career and competency framework for nursing.

  • nursing leadership
  • patient centred care
  • career framework

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