Celebrating Nurses Month: 5 Ways to Support Nurses and Advance Safer Care
May is Nurses Month, celebrating the millions of nurses worldwide and their invaluable contributions across the continuum of care. This year, we’re honoring the diverse and significant roles nurses play in advancing safer healthcare for all.
It’s not enough to celebrate nurses with buzzwords and platitudes. The healthcare landscape is more complex than ever before, and the role of nurses has expanded tremendously to meet the needs of today’s patients and ensure continued delivery of quality care. To truly celebrate our nurses, we also need to ensure they have the resources and support required to thrive in their organizations.
In honor of nurses everywhere, here are five ways you can show your support for the nurses in your organization.
1. Address the root causes of burnout and turnover.
The “quiet epidemic” of administrative harm is pervasive in healthcare and can lead to overworked and under-resourced teams prone to burnout and turnover. While some administrative work is inevitable, we should all seek ways to streamline processes, scale operations and empower end users (i.e., get rid of the “stupid stuff”) so that the systems in-place support staff rather than impede them.
2. Take feedback and implement it purposefully.
If we want to effectively address the issue of administrative harm, we must also be open to feedback and incorporate insights from those on the front lines. Many organizations have seen success implementing surveys or steering committees to collect and organize that feedback and then work cross-functionally to design strategic, iterative solutions that make life easier for everyone. Leaders should include nurses in this process as part of a shared governance approach, as well as follow up on outcomes and response. In short, we must show — rather than tell — nurses that their voice is truly represented through structural change.
3. Use data to inform scheduling.
One area where nursing staff tend to feel the most impact from industry workforce shortages is through scheduling. The correlation makes sense, and the solution is simple. Using data to inform scheduling will help teams identify and predict patterns, while also developing strategies for scheduling that will help foster equity, improve safety and strategically deploy resources based on the areas of greatest patient need.
Ultimately, this helps to ensure that our nursing professionals have flexibility and agency in their day-to-day, which can serve to empower teams in what is often an unpredictable work environment. What’s more, it offers us an opportunity to highlight nurses working at the top of their practice — because, as we know, the idea that “a nurse is a nurse is a nurse” is not only patently false but also a disastrous way to manage a team. Instead, we must encourage and reward these professionals any chance we get.
4. When issues arise, avoid the "blame and shame” trap.
Culture is central to successful issue resolution, and tools like CANDOR, peer support programs or an asset-based quality improvement (ABQI) approach can foster a culture that is supportive, reflective and fair, while also creating a space for our teams to celebrate wins. In addition to helping ease the impact of negative outcomes when they arise, we should also formally recognize excellence across the organization and build opportunities for everyone to learn and grow from each other.
5. Consistently and tangibly express appreciation.
Our collective recognition of nurses’ many contributions can’t stop here. There is evidence that formal staff recognition, clear alignment of work with organizational goals and regular coaching and communication all help to bolster retention, as well as a sense of ownership and belonging in the workplace.
Ensuring that everyone is seen, heard and supported is critical to mitigating burnout, maintaining organizational health and administering patient care, so let’s take this month as a reminder to recognize, appreciate and uplift our nurses today and every day going forward.