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Leading Change to Create a Healthy and Satisfying Work Environment

Sanders, Carolyn L. PhD, RN, NEA-BC; Krugman, Mary PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN; Schloffman, Danielle H. MSN, RN, NE-BC

doi: 10.1097/NAQ.0b013e3182a2fa2d
Original Articles

Nurse executives must take a leadership role in creating a healthy work environment for nurses and all disciplines. Engaging in partnerships and empowering clinical nurses to construct the solutions to barriers that may stand in the way of the goal of a satisfied and healthy workforce are important strategies toward success. This publication outlines many projects a 3-time Magnet-designated academic hospital has implemented, working with our shared leadership councils, to meet the standards for a healthy work environment. These initiatives, from the unit to the hospital level, included standardizing a culture change of uninterrupted meal breaks, the creation of intensive care unit Zen rooms, strategies to better manage increased patient volumes, best practices for facility design, enhancing physician-nurse relations, and a hospital wellness program. Data were benchmarked against national nurse and employee surveys to compare progress and report outcomes. Two important nursing organization structures that have contributed to the success of a healthy and satisfied nursing work environment include UEXCEL, a longstanding clinical nurse professional practice program, and the hospital's 11-year participation in the University HealthSystem Consortium/American Association of Colleges of Nursing National Post-Baccalaureate Nurse Residency Program. A highly engaged, well-educated, and committed nursing workforce, nurtured by a strong leadership team, has created a positive work environment characterized by low turnover and high retention.

University of Colorado Hospital, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora.

Correspondence: Mary Krugman, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, University of Colorado Hospital, Anschutz Medical Campus, 12401 E 17th Ave, Mail Stop A020, Aurora, CO 80045 (

The authors are grateful to Victoria Franklin, RD, and the many clinical nurses, nurse managers, clinical nurse specialists/educators, and directors whose outstanding commitment to improving the work environment shaped the content of this article.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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