Top nursing priorities for spring 2021: 6 CNOs weigh in

Six nursing leaders shared with Becker's what their No. 1 priority is for this spring.

Robert Rose, RN. Chief Nursing Executive, Central Market at Atrium Health (Charlotte, N.C.): My No. 1 priority is "resetting" the workforce as we come out of this pandemic. We have multi-model plans surrounding our workforce, from enhancing recruitment from those that left the profession and/or went to travel, to focusing on those that have been with us through this pandemic. We need to ensure our nursing leaders are aware of trauma-informed leadership and the emotional toll this pandemic has had on our caregivers. In addition, we've created a provider and teammate support group for those on our team who have had COVID-19. This support group is facilitated by our Spiritual Care and employee assistance program professionals. The pandemic has had such an effect on not only our patients but our staff. Nursing has been on the front lines since the beginning, and, as leaders, we need to respond in different ways and have the tools to respond differently. When I meet with my nursing leadership, I do a "check-in" centered around them — not necessarily their work, but just how they are doing. With this pandemic, we need to ensure our workforce is healthy physically, mentally and emotionally.    

Jean Surguy, RN. Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Mile Bluff Medical Center (Mauston, Wis.): We are like many others in healthcare — now that our COVID-19 volumes are decreasing, we are seeing staff retiring. COVID-19 took a lot out of everyone and they are reprioritizing their life. We are a small, rural hospital and some of our staff have worked here more than 20 or 30 years. We are losing a lot of experience and it will not be easy to replace all of them. On the bright side, it gives some staff the opportunity for some upward mobility since we don't have a lot of turnover in leadership positions.

Loren Corbin. Chief Nursing Officer at Hillsdale (Mich.) Hospital: After the upheaval, stress, and exhaustion from the pandemic, we will be concentrating on employee engagement throughout our facility.

Jay Sundheimer, RN. Chief Nurse Executive at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center (Rio Rancho, N.M.): Helping staff recover from trauma experienced over the last 12 months. Caregivers experienced significant stress and faced death more often and in more settings than many have in their entire careers. The compounding moral injury facing the staff when the public cannot adequately relate makes the real possibility of attrition, burnout and caregivers leaving their profession a reality. Recovery, support and self-care are top priorities, in addition to recovering from the very real financial stress the pandemic has caused.

Suzi Russell, MSN, RN. Chief Nursing and Patient Safety Officer at Singing River Health System (Ocean Springs, Miss.): The biggest priority for me as CNO is stabilization of the nursing workforce. COVID-19 has caused staff turnover at the highest rate ever seen in our system. This has increased burnout, losses in quality and patient satisfaction. We are now having to rebuild the nursing department one staff member at a time, and the process is going to be a long process.

Shelley Wilson, RN. Chief Nursing Officer at Henry Community Health (New Castle, Ind.): Patient safety is always our top priority. Outside of that, my next priority for spring 2021 is staffing: staff well-being, recruitment and retention. 


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