First, I’d like to say Happy National Nurses Week to all my fellow nursing peers around the world! Without your amazing intellect, skill, passion, heart and sacrifice, we literally couldn’t survive.
I love this time of year because it gives me an opportunity to reflect on the profession and how far we’ve come since the days of Florence Nightingale. It also gives me a moment to pause and intentionally remember why I chose to join the ranks of nursing and why I continue to support the nursing profession.
This year, I’ve thought a lot about what an exciting time it is to be a nurse. You might think that sounds strange coming off the heels of COVID, quite possibly the most challenging time nurses have faced in the modern era. But the pandemic has proven to be a driving force for change within our profession. Leaders across the country finally have time to begin to understand the change that is required to build and sustain a happy, healthy nursing workforce. More change is coming our way, and in fact, in many areas it is already here.
Influencing change in healthcare
I see three areas that prompt great hope and optimism with regards to the profession:
- Hospital executives are listening. Nurses proved their worth many times over during the pandemic, and health systems are working hard to actively listen to what nurses need to continue to stay engaged in the workforce.
- Nurses are learning that they have a strong voice, and their feedback is not only valued but is the spark to bring on positive change.
- Lastly - and perhaps most importantly - nurses have learned that they can no longer operate in the caretaker role without first taking care of themselves.
I recently returned from a three-day event where I had the pleasure of meeting with and learning from Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) from around the country. It’s undeniable that the world of healthcare has changed as a result of COVID. The CNOs I met with are reflecting on how to best learn from our shared experiences and to make positive change so that we aren’t in dire straits again. It was apparent in every session that leadership is hyper-focused on creating a positive working environment to recruit and retain nurses.
That is critical to our profession. Nurses are the largest segment of the healthcare workforce, and yet, at times, it has felt like we didn’t have power to make positive change on our own behalf. Flexibility and control are two things that have at times seemed out of reach in traditional nursing roles, especially for those at the bedside. COVID has prompted nurses in droves to re-evaluate what is most important in their lives, and unfortunately, we have watched hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals walk away. In many instances, they walked away from healthcare altogether, adding further strain to the profession.
Addressing the nurse experience
Part of my excitement about changes coming stems from leaders who aren’t focused on just one aspect such as hiring practices; instead, they are taking holistic approaches to addressing every aspect of the employee experience from career lattices to shared governance.
The only way that we can continue to thrive as a profession and recruit highly qualified talent into our ranks is to learn from our mistakes and to be nimble enough to change fluidly with the times. Fortunately, leadership is listening and adapting. Now is the time to make your voice heard in the conversation and to bring your innovative ideas to the table.
The hospital or bedside is not the only place where you can feel empowered. It’s time to feel empowered in your daily life. Many nurses are actively seeking those empowering alternatives that meet their needs personally and professionally. CareRev has seen rapid growth over the last two years as more professionals seek flexible ways to practice professionally in a way that works with their personal lives. We are proud to be a part of the revolution that is putting control in the hands of the nurse to work where they want, when they want and for wages commensurate with their value.
Supporting nurse empowerment and mental well-being
In a post-pandemic world, CareRev will continue to provide an empowering environment where nurses can actively control their careers. We need such an environment to propel professionals forward and continue to make the profession attractive to both existing and future nurses. I encourage you to explore options that allow you to continue to practice in a fulfilling ways. If CareRev is of interest to you, take the first step to learn more here.
There’s an archetype associated with nurses: people drawn to the profession are typically smart, passionate, and have a penchant for giving to others and of themselves. While these traits make the profession strong and trusted, they also lend themselves to deprioritizing the self for the collective good. As healthcare professionals, we know the importance of mental health, but all too often we put this on the backburner personally.
COVID forced personal mental wellness to the forefront for nurses, and we are seeing a surge in nurses taking a step back to care for themselves. This is a positive personally and for the collective good. A healthy nurse is a better nurse. To ensure that resources are available, I am so pleased to announce that CareRev partnered with Ginger to provide free mental health resources to our professionals. We are actively working to ensure that we have a strong, healthy pool of professionals working through our technology enabled app.
Recently Margie C., RN, shared on the CareRev Facebook group what a blessing her newfound flexibility has been to her mental health:
“When I was seriously depressed during COVID, knowing I could pick up with them whenever gave me the freedom to leave my staff job and rest (not work) September 2021-December. Best reset ever, and now I can choose what kind of unit I’m working on. Practically saved my career as a nurse.”
To keep nurses happily engaged in the profession we must meet them where they are. I am optimistic this awakening that self-care for the caregiver is critically important will continue well beyond the pandemic.
I hope that each of you take a few minutes this week to pause and reflect. I hope that you too share my great optimism and hope that nursing is entering perhaps the most exciting time in our profession and that you feel empowered to stand up and make positive change. Leadership is eager to hear you and to work with you to innovate and make positive change. Do not let your voice be left unheard.
And most of all, I hope that you take some time this week - and every week thereafter - to do something for yourself that keeps your mental health at the forefront. You are one of our most valuable assets, and we are all striving to ensure that you stay engaged, healthy, and happy! Patients and the future of the profession depend on it.