Our New Nurse Leaders- How Do We Help Them?

How Do We Help Our New Nurse Leaders? 

When I was a new nurse and then a new nurse leader,
I was overwhelmed with the
demands of the jobs. 

Right away, I felt the reality shock of healthcare’s BIG competing demands as a clinical nurse and then as a new leader — charge nurse, supervisor, manager, etc.

The challenge was, How to remain open and sensitive and compassionate when I was drowning everyday — especially given my level of emotional and organizational intelligence.

What made this universal newbie experience more confusing was the collective acceptance among the seasoned nurses around me — and especially from my bosses  — that this was a reality that I needed to accept.

Fast forward … This is today’s reality:

We have the research that shows us the destructive impact of our work pressures….
We can’t just pass off the negative impact with “you need to accept this”.
We have to personally muster our inner leader and demonstrate an antidote.

Deep, compassionate, authentic caring is hard  for nurses to sustain in our current work environments.  But nurses soldier on …           Until they can’t. 

Attrition is Rising

Up to 40% of new nurses – 1-3 years – are thinking about leaving nursing

And nurse managers are in even greater jeopardy to leave – up to 70%

The Antidote

The stronger a nurse’s capacity for authentic caring connections, the less burnout, caring fatigue, attrition

The more nurse leaders are connected with their authentic caring leader selves the less nurse leader despair and the stronger and more fulfilled they are.

Where Do We As Seasoned Nurse Leaders Begin Today?

The power of authentic connection is real, palpable, and needed among nurses and new nurse leaders.

I marvel at the nurse leaders who are able to put aside the pressures of staffing, budgets and time constraints to listen and authentically connect with nurses in any setting.

Where you, as a seasoned nurse leader, might begin:

  1. When a new nurse leader is struggling to do it all …  Don’t diminish the importance  and benefit of routinely connecting with nurses around humanity and authentic caring.  Reinforce how they might make these connections part of their  daily ‘to do’ list… one step at a time.
  2. As a seasoned nurse leader (even though you might be struggling too) … demonstrate how you focus your conversations with nurses by …
    • mentally putting aside the pressures of staffing, budgets, and time constraints
    • making your conversations nurse-centered
    • asking nurses about recent meaning in their caring practice
    • creating space for the nurse to think, feel and respond   …  however momentary …

You don’t have to be a guru nurse leader to help new nurse leaders.
The best way to step forward is to be open and honest about how to juggle and balance
the nurse leader role.
Not by “get used to it and accept it”….

Be brave … Share your inner process and successes (however small).
Share your intent to personally and positively impact each nurse and their authentic caring.
You will be rewarded.

Putting aside the pressures of staffing, budgets, and time constraints for real conversations
is the only way to stay grounded and whole as a nurse leader.


A Nightingale Note  in Honor of Year of the Nurse *

Nightingale was driven throughout her life by an intense commitment to help humanity.

Nightingale was a brilliant woman and an accomplished statistician.  She used statistics to demonstrate the need for improvements in sanitation and health care.  Her ability to use scientific research to demonstrate the need for reforms helped her immensely in her mission to improve people’s lives.

She accomplished reforms in health and sanitation in the British Army, in civilian hospitals, in workhouses, and in the homes in England and other parts of the world.  She worked to change the laws in England and India to improve the health of their populations, and she created the profession of nursing.     **  p.4

*  I’m sharing a reference to Nightingale’s work, given The 2020 Year of the Nurse,
** Notes On Nursing: What It Is, And Is Not.  Commemorative Edition, 1992, Philadelphia: Lippincott Co

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