Can You Get Satisfaction in a Nurse Leader Job?

Nurse Leader Burnout is a Moving Train Heading For a Cliff …. 

In the 2010 IOM Future of Nursing Report, they sent out a call for more and higher level nurse leaders in healthcare.

It is estimated that we need 67,000 additional nurse managers by 2020 (Bureau of Labor).  Oh dear …. 

This poses quite a challenge given nurse manager turnover is between 50 – 72 %.  Yikes!

This is not a pretty picture….

There are currently 400,000 nurse leaders in the US.

And more than 50% leave or 72% want to leave their positions!

Replacements aside, …  

We need 67,000 more nurse leaders in the next 2 years to fill the growing number of leadership positions in our changing healthcare system.

If you are a nurse leader or want to be a nurse leader, there’s a job for you!

However ….  That high turnover rate, tells you that these are not easy jobs.

Here are Some Tips or A Path

Actually there is Only One Path — that is going to keep you in a leadership position and sane.

Yes, it’s self-care.  There is no magic potion.

Who We Are Is How We Lead.   There’s no way around it, being a healthy and happy leader starts with self.

It is well established in nursing and self-care literature that how nurses relate to themselves impacts their quality of connections and relationships and the care they provide.  So It Goes with being a nurse leader. 

Nursing has been espousing self-care for decades.  And now it is everywhere. You could say that society is catching up with nursing!

Wellness programs and lifestyle research abound that demonstrate connections between personal growth, self-care practices, self-acceptance, quality of relationships and quality of life.

There is a personal renaissance happening around us seen in the groundswell of wellness programs in all walks of life.

Life-long self-care is the prescription

Reflections on Self-Care

Here are some things to think about:

  • How do I take care of myself?
  • List the ways I cared for myself yesterday
  • How do I know when I an caring for myself?
  • What holds me back from caring for myself?
  • What do I feel when I do care for myself?
  • What happens when I don’t care for myself?
  • How could I do better in caring for myself?
  • What areas need healing?

from Reflective Practice. 2012. Sherwood & Horton-Deutsch

Types of Self-Care

Self-care practices are multi-faceted, highly individual—each practice affects each person uniquely—and range across a continuum. Self-care involves physical, mind/mental/emotional and spiritual care practices.

To understand self-care practices it’s helpful to see them by categories based on desired intention and purpose. One does not need to approach self-care practices linearly by category; in fact, they are often in motion simultaneously and can be synergistic. Here are general categories of self-care practices:

  • Self-care for prevention.
  • Therapeutic self-care for life struggles.
  • Developmental self-care to advance life skills.
  • Transformative self-care towards wholeness.

The Research

Effectiveness of self-care practices in cultivating nurses inner resources, regulating stress and enhancing authentic caring is supported by research.

  • Nurses use of health promotion behaviors and perceptions—from The Health Promotion Behaviors Model (HPB)—had a positive impact the nurses’ levels of compassion fatigue, burnout, stress, compassion satisfaction and job satisfaction in three studies. The HPB behaviors and perceptions included six self-care domains: nutrition, stress management, spiritual growth (achieving meaning, purpose and life goals), health responsibility, physical activity, and interpersonal relations.

Health Promotion Behaviors…. JONA. Tucker et al 2012. Neville & Cole 2013. Williams et al 2018.

  • Resilience is a behavioral asset associated with healthy nurse leaders and nurses. Nurses who participated in the following eight self-care resilience practices measured higher in resilience in various studies:  education, social support, self-care activities, fostering relationships, boundary setting, resilience training, learning stress control, and engaging in debriefs. Whether these self-care techniques are offered through an employer or outside, they are practices that can help nurses and leaders navigate the complex demands and wholly engage in their work.

 Resilience…. Nursing Management. Kester & Wei 2018.

  • Twenty CNOs demonstrated high level resilience in their jobs by holding their caring philosophy—based in caring science—at the core of their nursing leadership. They attributed their “lifelong process of fine-tuning the art of caring” to their success.

Caring and Resiliency…. Nurs Admin Q. Dyess SML et al 2015.

Nurses and nurse leaders benefit from self-care, resilience practices and caring science processes.  This is what lead me to satisfaction and to thriving in my leadership jobs.

And as it turns out …. Cultivation of inner resources is a universal need, as learned through wellness consciousness and caring science.


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