Group of doctors, nurses, and surgeon specialists standing in hospital, backs to camera
HealthMay 10, 2021

Using your voice to create change is easy as A, B, C!

By: Mary Anne Bera, RN, MSN
As a nurse leader, you are in the unique position to be a driver of innovation and change in healthcare. And during a pandemic, bedside nurses need the strength of a proactive leader to be their advocate.

There are three key things that can be done to support positive change in your organization. These three things are: being an advocate for mental and physical health, building resilience, and change leadership.

Advocate for mental and physical health

The Joint Commission recently released a Sentinel Event Alert about health care workers during a pandemic. Feedback given to The Joint Commission concluded that health care workers are experiencing a fear of the unknown, bringing the Covid virus home, and becoming sick. So, what is the first thing nurse leaders can do to advocate for their nurses’ physical and mental health? Listen to them! When nurses come to you frustrated or fatigued, acknowledge their feelings. Let them know that you understand, and that their feelings are valid. Be sure that your nurses are aware of any employee assistance program (EAP) benefits the organization offers for mental and physical health. Prove to them that you value them as individual human beings.

Protect your nurses’ physical safety by modeling effective safety practices on the unit, such as the NIOSH Hierarchy of Controls framework. Leaders have a direct influence on a nurses’ ability to remain safe while at work and can use this framework as a guide to make strategic improvements to safety. You can learn a lot about the safety of your staff by just observing the workflow of your unit, being visible, and chatting with nurses through informal rounding.

Build resilience in nursing

Nurses are facing burnout at a higher rate than ever before. In a 2017 qualitative study, it was found that facilitating social connections and interpersonal relationships was a top strategy in reducing burnout and lowering nurse turnover. Encourage social events that encourage nurses to meet and talk with nurses from other units that they normally would not interact that much with.

Promoting positivity, through role modeling and practicing gratitude, is another resilience strategy according to the study. During safety huddles or other interactive meetings, have staff begin their huddle with all the positive things that happened during the shift. Nurturing nurses’ growth through mentorships and an open-door policy can also create a boost in self-confidence and trust between nurses and leaders.

Change leadership

Transformational leadership is a widely used method of healthcare leadership to drive change. This method of leadership promotes a positive work culture through the traits of communication transparency, visibility, and modeling of behaviors to create trust and change. These traits also empower the nurse leader to advocate for nurses in the administrative suite. Don’t be afraid to rally to the CNO or CEO for more resources for your nurses that are stretched thin with a high acuity or burnout rate. Transformational leadership calls for transparency on all levels — or else nothing can truly change.

How do you use your voice to encourage change in your organization?

Mary Anne Bera, RN, MSN
Clinical Editor, Lippincott Solutions, Wolters Kluwer Health
Mary Anne is a nurse with over 17 years’ experience in medical surgical nursing, including eight years of nurse leadership. She currently develops and edits clinical content for Lippincott Advisor.
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