12 steps leaders can take to support, invest in nursing staff

There are many different initiatives and strategies leaders can implement to better support nursing staff. 

Previously, Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, a practicing acute care and critical care nurse practitioner at Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine, and the chief nurse of Philadelphia-based Wolters Kluwer's Health Learning, Research and Practice business, discussed with Becker's how agile care models can help support nurse well-being and foster resilience. Implementing agile care models provides flexibility and creates a more conducive environment for optimal care. 

Below are 11 other steps that should be implemented, along with an agile care model, to support nurses, per Dr. Woods.

1. One of the most important things is keeping talent where it is. To do this, nurses have to feel valued. Hospitals should invest in nurses by providing a clear career ladder and growth opportunities so nurses have a chance to move up or move to a new lateral position. Click here for some of Dr. Woods' recruitment and retention strategies.  

2. Lifelong learning should be invested in and promoted by health systems. The healthcare landscape changes quickly, and staff must have continuing education opportunities to understand these changes.  

3. Leaders must be able to recognize burnout and moral distress, which means they should spend time on the floors to witness what is going on in person. 

4. Multiple people should be involved in burnout assessments, including social workers, psychologists and counselors.

5. Make sure employee assistance programs are easily accessible and able to be utilized. 

6. Ensure adequate staffing. Agile care models can help with this amid staffing shortages.

7. Make sure staff has time to take breaks, get meals and have access to healthy food options. When nurses can't get off the floor, they often order carry-out food from restaurants. Hospitals should have a cart of food that travels to different floors so nurses feel like they have multiple options.

8. Don't allow staff to be overworked. Working excessive hours increases adverse events. Make sure staff can take time off.  

9. Create time to debrief after traumatic situations. Discuss what went right and what went wrong in the situation, and take time to respect human life lost and the people involved in their care.

10. Give nurses a voice on committees that add new requirements for EHR documentation. Acute care requires an enormous amount of EHR documentation, which takes away from patient care. Leadership should make sure nurses' concerns regarding documentation burden are recognized.  

11. Be proactive instead of reactive. Working to prevent burnout, staffing shortages and other problems before they occur allows nurses to provide optimal patient care and keep the passion of nursing alive.   

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