First There First Care Exhibitor information page FTFC logo with Fire Chief logo

June 10-14 2024 SAVE THE DATE!

June 12 – 16, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, FL 33314

Traits of a Successful Healthcare Leader

A successful career in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) or nursing presents many challenges. And more often than not, facing those challenges brings about tremendous satisfaction. Without question, one of the greatest challenges in anyone’s career is accepting the responsibility to lead. Assuming a leading role in EMS or nursing presents both challenges and triumphs, but almost always leads to a rewarding and fulfilling career.

Legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi said, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. They are made through hard effort….

A boss or a leader?

There is a passage that, in one form or another, is presented in virtually all leadership classes.  It differentiates between what is a boss and what it means to be a leader. At the end it poses a question… ”Which one are you?”

Becoming a leader requires developing and learning a whole new set of skills and just as you did on your path to becoming a nurse or a paramedic, honing those skills to a level of perfection. Below are some essential traits needed to become an excellent leader in nursing or EMS.

Clinical competence

It is often said, to be a good paramedic you have to be a GREAT EMT.  It can also be assumed to be a good leader you have to be a great medic or nurse. An industry leader should have an impeccable understanding of emergency medical practices and theories, particularly as they related to local protocols. They should be able to make accurate assessments and execute appropriate medical procedures quickly and confidently. Moreover, they should be able to keep up with the latest medical research and guidelines to ensure they are providing the best care possible.

Decision-making skills

The worst decision a leader can make is no decision. In the field of emergency medicine, quick and decisive action is often the difference between life and death. A good leader can rapidly assess a situation, weigh the benefits and risks of different courses of action, and make sound decisions under pressure.

Communication skills

Effective communication is crucial. It starts by learning to be a good listener. They need to be able to absorb the input and concerns of their team members and other professionals they work with.

A leader needs to articulate their decisions clearly and concisely, ensuring everyone in their team understands what is being said and what is expected of them.

Empathy and compassion

Healthcare professionals often work with patients who are in severe distress. An effective leader should be able to empathize with patients and their families, showing kindness, patience, and understanding even in the most difficult circumstances.

The good leader shows similar concerns for their team. Emergency medicine is stressful and can be troubling to some. The good leader can identify when a member of their team is struggling, reach out, and offer genuine concern and appropriate assistance.


The healthcare system is a big machine, too often hectic and difficult to navigate. The good leader ensures the patient is properly represented and has access to the care and services they need.

The same is true for their team members. Both the nursing and EMS professions can quickly envelope someone into the maelstrom and burn them out just a fast.  The good leader clears the underbrush, establishes a clear pathway, and guides their team members through the quagmire, on the road to success.

Resilience and stress management

Leaders in emergency medicine should have strong coping mechanisms to manage their own stress and prevent burnout. They should also support their team members in managing stress and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Teamwork and collaboration

Both EMS and nursing leaders should be able to coordinate effectively with a diverse team of professionals, including paramedics, physicians, nurses, and dispatchers. They should value the input of all team members and foster an environment of mutual respect and cooperation.

Accountability and Integrity

A great leader accepts responsibility for failures but credits the team for successes. The leader’s job is to provide an atmosphere of support and encouragement so the team works well together to achieve the desired goals.


The emergency medical fields are unpredictable and can change rapidly. Leaders in this profession should be flexible, ready to adapt to new information or changes in a patient’s condition, and continually seek the opportunity to innovate.

Professional Development

An effective healthcare leader should not only be interested in their own professional development but also in the development of their team. They should provide constructive feedback and opportunities for the team to learn and grow.

Vision and Strategic Planning

A good leader has a vision for their team and the future of the service. They should be able to strategize and plan in line with this vision, ensuring they’re able to meet current needs and prepare for future challenges.

No stinking badges

In all para-military structures officers are recognized by symbols of rank; usually in the form of bugles, bars, stripes, or pips.

Being a leader goes far beyond the gold badge.  It’s not about rank but about reputation, about respect, and about commitment.

Rank may get you courtesies and customs, but concern, dedication, and commitment earns you respect.

Leadership in the emergency healthcare professions is a multifaceted role, requiring both technical medical skills and strong leadership qualities. By cultivating these traits, individuals can greatly increase their effectiveness as leaders, be recognized for their commitments, and play a key role in the advancement of the profession.