Top Qualities of a Successful Interim Nurse Leader


Interim nurse leaders must act quickly and decisively, boost confidence among staff, and plan purposefully.

Updated Dec. 2022 

Your long-term care facility needs an interim nurse leader. Now what? As you begin your search, you should know that an interim nurse leader may have a few differing qualities than a permanent nurse leader, even though they’ll have similar skills. Because of the temporary nature of the role, an interim nurse leader must act quickly and decisively, boost confidence among staff, and plan purposefully for both short- and long-term initiatives. When they do, the permanent nurse leader can seamlessly step in with a strategy already in place.  

With this in mind, there are a few qualities to look for in candidates that can help ensure your next interim hire is a true asset to your facility. A successful interim nurse leader is:  

Insightful: An interim nurse leader must understand the nature of their role. Sometimes, an interim position can mean “hold-down-the-fort-until-we-find-the-right-person,” while other times, the temporary role could become permanent. In either case, an interim leader must be able to read between the lines, understand the context of the position, and adopt the right attitude for the job. 

How can you tell if a nurse leader is insightful? They show a good understanding of complex people and situations. They are open-minded and highly perceptive. 

Strategic: Although their status is temporary, interim nurse leaders have the opportunity to improve an organization’s overall productivity, but they must think strategically. An experienced interim leader knows which changes need to happen today and which ones can wait. After all, it’s part of their job to establish short-term goals for the team and recommend a long-term strategy for the future permanent nurse leader. 

How can you tell if a nurse leader is strategic? They never forget the overall organizational purpose. They initiate and execute projects that show an understanding beyond their current role.  

Decisive: Since their roles are only temporary, skilled interim nurse leaders must hit the ground running. And that’s because nothing stops productivity in its tracks like indecisiveness. A successful interim nurse leader will make decisions as if the job were already theirs, and then explain the rationale behind those decisions to their staff. In the process, they’ll bring stability to the team during a transitional time.  

How can you tell if a nurse leader acts decisively? They weigh all possible outcomes to make efficient decisions without worry or stress. They lead with confidence, purpose, and direction. 

Supportive: Whether permanent or temporary, great leaders know that connecting with people is at the heart of what they do. In your search for an interim nurse leader, keep in mind you need someone with great people skills. A temporary leader must be able to bring people together and move forward in times of uncertainty.  

How can you tell if a nurse leader is supportive? They quickly build relationships through genuine empathy and trust. They ensure that everyone around them first has the tools needed for success.  

Are you looking for an interim nurse leader? Medical Solutions helps facilities across the U.S. fill leadership vacancies with quality, experienced interim leaders. Contact us today to learn more! 



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