It is the time for New Year's resolutions. This year, after making that personal list of what to do or change, think about the current state of the nursing profession and start a new list. Considering all of the issues and problems bearing down on nurses now, how can the work environment be transformed to become ideal? Imagine the perfect workplace designed to enable nurses to grow, thrive, and enjoy their jobs. What are the characteristics? Star the items that are both must-haves and realistic to achieve with the right resources and organizational effort. Be bold. That list represents a starting point to voice the need for change.
Does the vision of the perfect nursing world come to mind easily, or is the image only a dark landscape? Nurses who practiced in better times can likely describe workplace qualities that promote job satisfaction and reward. For nurses who came into the profession after the pandemic began, a better working life as a nurse may be difficult to envision, making the career choice a questionable one. This exercise could even feel too heavy a lift for nurses to put pen to paper given the pandemic of moral suffering, disengagement, and resignation that is driving widespread staffing shortages and a national healthcare crisis. It is extremely difficult to think about work in a positive manner during periods of burnout, exhaustion, and disillusionment, but it is at exactly these times that this work must be done.
One of the most pressing challenges facing the nursing profession collectively is the pervasive energy drain and spirit of defeat. The biggest risk is getting stuck in that rut without the energy necessary to climb out and actively forge a better future. Before the future can be forged, however, it must be imagined. Everything that was ever accomplished started with an idea that was ultimately translated into action.
Once conceived, ideas can be shared among colleagues. Some may fall flat, but others, once given a voice, will take off and shape the transformation that is critical to the profession's future. Those ideas must be honed to become the desired outcomes in the measurement of success. The nursing profession must engineer its own future. Otherwise, our foundation risks crumbling under the incredible stress and pressure that is bearing down on it.
Stay safe and well,
LINDA LASKOWSKI-JONES, MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, CEN, NEA-BC, FAWM, FAAN