Lead Caring. Save Nurses.


Lead Caring and Save Nurses.    Aren’t These Really Our Mission, As Nurse Leaders ?

Let’s follow that path……

Our first hurdle is to become leaders of caring in the eyes of our nurses.

Close your eyes and feel the moment.  

That moment when you access your caring authenticity from deep within 

and when you open your eyes, it is connecting with the nurse in front of you.

That’s when it started for me.

Over the years I held routine nursing forums for nursing staff on days and nights. These were pivotal experiences for me; this is where my transformation as a leader of real caring emerged. It took time for me to develop a comfort with these kinds of open forums. In my early years, standing up in front of groups of angry nurses was pretty scary. By the time I was a CNO, I was handling myself with more ease.

I eventually realized several things about holding open forums:

  • First, nurses are fierce about issues they care about, not angry
  • the more often I had the forums, the less tension there was
  • I didn’t need to know all the answers
  • I didn’t need to be right all the time
  • I learned that when nurses spoke their truths, it was real, and it was my job to accept the message
  • When it got raw and contentious, this allowed honesty to surface
  • I learned when to stop debating and to respond from within—what I valued, what I thought was right, what I felt and what I feared
  • I learned  that the quicker I dropped sounding like the company line, the quicker we connected and the more chance we had to move forward together

Rounding was another source of clarity building. I saw nurses’ human connections in action, their authenticity, their concern for patients, their humanity.

“Make people see your humanity, and they won’t turn away” (Doty, 2017).  I believe that nurses are starved for real connection with nurse leaders.  They want to see our humanity.  This is not about more face time, this is about exchange of deep human connection, however momentary. They won’t turn away, when they feel our authenticity. 

Just as caring moments are momentary and real between nurses and patients, so goes between leaders and nurses. We can save nurses from their despair of thinking that no one sees them. Like patients, nurses don’t expect things to be perfect, but they do want to be seen and heard. Learning how to invite nurses in casual, but meaningful moments to share their caring experiences and to hear each other share theirs reinforces thoughts, feelings and growth. This grows real connections.

These conversations helped me have faith in our work, in nurses and in myself. 

As nurse leaders we want nurses to focus on authentic caring.  It Starts With Us….. Nurses seeing our authenticity.   These connections strengthen their authenticity and renew their commitment to nursing …. As it does for us. 

I am grateful for those connections, these put me on the path to leading caring.

We Can Save Nurses.


image courtesy of Ben White @unsplash.com
Doty JR. (2017). Alphabet of the heart: 10 steps along the journey towards compassion and mindfulness. Keynote presentation: 23rd International Caritas Consortium Conference. Watson Caring Science Center & Stanford HC. October.


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