Why Do Nurse Leaders Delegate Caring?

I have sat in meetings off and on for years talking about the nursing curriculum for caring classes – the content, the interactive activities, the expected outcomes.   Often, I would be slotted to give an introductory statement about the importance of the class.

Then the rest of the class was left to the in-house guru’s – if you’re lucky enough to have one or two – the educators.

So the question is …. Whose job is it to teach and lead caring practices? 

There are a couple of subliminal messages that come with this division on labor:

  1. Cultivation of caring skills is only for clinical nurses
  2. Nurse leaders don’t need to cultivate their caring skills

Neither of these are true.

I get that this division of labor is a practical approach, but these messages that fall within this division of labor are the problem.

I grew up in an era of nursing leadership in hospitals, where nurse leaders’ conversations about caring involved past episodes…. as if there is a hierarchical divide where caring practices start and stop.   But caring practices do exist among nurse leaders, we just don’t talk about them or how we cultivate our caring practices.

I suspect that some nurse leaders may not value their caring practices as much as they once did; but they are valuable … especially to other nurses. 


There are two points to be made here:

  1. We nurse leaders are key players in cultivation of nurse caring in organizations – even the caring gurus tell us so.

This is a lesson learned from inside the Caring Science academic and educator community.  They know from teaching and consulting in many organizations that it is the Nurse leaders, from within organizations, with their “insider” access and credibility, who can best influence nurses in expanding their caring. 

Let’s face it …. nursing theorists, academicians, and educators have been sounding caring science theory, research and knowledge for decades, and yet, the majority of organizations have not gotten beyond writing caring theory into their professional practice models and a few classes.

  1. How? Cultivation of the higher level of caring skills – authentic caring – doesn’t happen from the policies and classes, it happens through person to person connections.

This is where nurse leader involvement comes into play.  Short, momentary conversations between leaders and nurses about caring experiences signals to nurses an authentic connection in the moment,  and that there is no hierarchical divide.

Nurse leaders who are willing to open up and share their own ever-evolving caring conscious selves, are the best ones to translate the innovative spirit of caring with nurses.


The roadmap to Caring Literacy in an organization takes many shapes…

  • It can be organization wide where all nurse leaders engage in caring experience conversations with nurses
  • It can be by unit or department where those nurse leaders engage those nurses within the department. Note- it always spills over …. 
  • Or it can be like one lone nurse sitting at a table with despair on her face.. as she asked the caring leaders at the next table …    “Can I do this on my own?”         “Yes”, was the response …

 It’s always … one Nurse Leader at a time …

     then one Nurse at a time

image courtesy of istock photo.com

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