Can There Be Joy in The CNOs’ Stuff and More Stuff?

Is this you?  If it isn’t, then why not?  Just kidding, here is why not….

Several recent articles paint the picture of our nurse leader world:    

  • “An Integrative Review of 21st-Century Roles, … of CNEs” (chief nursing executives)-  This article did a massive review of the literature to define the CNE role for the next generation given our current “head-snapping changes”.  What was refreshing was their description of our work.
    • Director of Stuff and More Stuff!  (These are their fun words):
      • Provide leadership and vision. Establish nurses governance structure. Ensure high-quality EBP and PCC. Provide strategic nursing management. Foster staff development. Regulate nurse credentialing. Establish and foster effective relationships, open communication and collaboration. Provide operational efficiency and financial oversight.

And then to make it more stressful …  We want to be good at all of this Stuff

  • “Standout Nurse Leaders… What’s In the Research” –   In another massive literature review, these authors sought to define the characteristics of great nurse leaders.  Gulp… given the stark realities of our role described in the first article, how can any of us be “stand-out leaders”?
    • Standout characteristics:
      • The ideal leader would be open, approachable, optimistic and consistent. Display a passion for nursing, personal integrity and emotional capacity. Able to motivate others, communicate effectively, lead by example, be supportive, engage in reflective practice and empower others. Possess expert clinical and safety knowledge and use of EBP. Demonstrate systematic, critical, circumspective and rapid thinking skills.  Trust and honesty were the top descriptors. Interpersonal leadership styles such as relational-focused leadership were described.
      • Skills for promoting healthy nurse work environments through effective relationships and connections influenced by emotional intelligence are the foundational skills necessary for nurse leadership.

For Hope and Sanity’s Sake … there is growing recognition that the pressures from the CNE Stuff and More Stuff and desire to be a Standout Nurse Leader can make us just plain unhealthy.

IHI’s Triple Aim has graduated to the Quadruple Aim.   The original 3 dimensions described by the IHI  (Institute for Healthcare Improvements) for healthcare organization improvements focused on the patient experience, patient health and reduced costs.  A forth dimension has been added – care of the patient requires care of the provider.  Basically, if the caregivers/providers are not healthy burn out, compassion fatigue, moral distressthe patients won’t be either.  By looking at the CNE role of  ‘Director of more stuff’…. It’s clear that nurse leaders are critical in optimizing the Triple Aims…

  • Nurse Leader Burnout: How To Find Your Joy –  There are several new articles addressing the need for nurse leader healthy mindedness and good health.  This one is especially refreshing!
    • Finding Joy amidst the Stuff and More Stuff:
      • Think deeply about how to restore your own joy and engagement. Be Mindful during implementations, etc to find your own meaning and purpose in these tasks. Ask staff, “what matters most to you?” Remember Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care. Understand your roles and responsibilities for ease and clarity. Role model your joy and meaning in what you focus on, talk about and listen to. Seek meaningful relationships with like-minded nurse leaders. Seek connections with nurses in the clinical settings. Mentor others.

This is a lot to digest.

Laced through all of these articles was what nurse leaders really bring to the table, what they do, their knowledge and actions.   They bring strategic order from chaos and translate abstract concepts to concrete operations. They exhibit willingness to experiment and strive to understand the human condition and the work that is needed.

Nurses Invisible Work-  There was one last indicator of nurse leader success that Crawford et al. referred to that gave me pause,  “.. to ensure that the invisible work of nurses is valued, visible, and positioned to positively impact patient and family health” (p 308). 

This indeed is nurse leader success and is part of caring literacy.   


  Image courtesy of  I Love This Image!

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