Thank you for addressing the issue of caring at the heart of effective leadership. As nurses, we learn to be compassionate and provide care for our patients, but who's caring for our nurses when their fuel needs to be replenished? With expanded nurse manager roles and overly stretched management responsibilities, nurse managers may not recognize the compassion fatigue syndrome that a nurse may experience. This was illustrated in the April 2010 article entitled, "Compassion Fatigue: Nothing Left to Give?"
I agree that, as a nurse manager, it's essential to develop a one-on-one relationship with the individual nurse to provide support and guidance for our nurses who may be in need of counseling referrals to programs such as the employee assistance program. Nurses are educated to provide care to their patients unselfishly, but as nurse managers we must remind our staff nurses that they need to take care of themselves first in order to provide quality patient care. The nurse management team may also facilitate this by having one of the counselors from the employee assistance program give an in-service during staff meetings on stress management or tips on managing daily life.
We all know that compassion fatigue syndrome may affect nurses or nurse managers. As we become aware of the signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue that depend on the daily stressors in our lives, we should seek early intervention to lead healthier lives and possibly help with nurse retention as well.
I'm an RN and an MBA/MSN graduate student at Holy Names University in Oakland, Calif. I'll share this article in my clinical leadership class and at the nurse managers' meeting to increase awareness of compassion fatigue syndrome.
Suzanne Lee, BSN, RN
Focus on nurse and patient satisfaction
I've just finished reading the article entitled, "From Wall Street to Main Street...to Your Hospital" from the January 2010 issue. I have to say that the authors really did a great job focusing on some of the problems that hospital administrators are facing with the economic downfall that this nation has experienced. Having been mainly a staff nurse with only a few supervisory jobs, I've never had to work on a budget or cutbacks. My main concern was always taking care of the nurses and keeping the patient care in mind along with their safety. After reading this article, I was amazed by the ways hospitals are attempting to remedy the problem. Taking away paid time off, incentive pay, health benefits, and retirement plans isn't the answer to retain seasoned nurses who have the experience to give good-quality patient care.
If you look at any Magnet®-recognized hospital system, you'll find that nurse satisfaction reflects on patient care. Happy nurses are happy at work, and therefore their positive outlook shows in the patient care they deliver along with outcomes. Education programs need to be maintained in order to retain those nurses who pride themselves on professional development. Hiring new graduates is essential for building a nursing workforce for the future generation. Using mature or older nurses to mold and guide new graduates in the right direction needs to be the main focus in all hospitals.
Educating the nurses on the effects of working too many hours was accentuated very well in this article. Unfortunately, there are no laws pertaining to this issue and patients suffer. Hospital administrators need to take the time to listen to nurses—the core of hospital bedside care—and not just look at everything on a spreadsheet in order to handle the economic downfall. There are many more answers to these issues, but the main focus should be giving great, not just good, care to all patients and maintaining their safety.
Pamela Anstead, RN
El Paso, Tex.