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May 12

Happy Nurses Week to all nursing leaders!

I am having the time of my life traveling around Alberta meeting nurses from all areas of practice, administration, research, education, and it is SO much fun! On Tuesday night, I met a great bunch of nurses from the Red Deer area, at the Central Zone dinner. One nurse that I had a chance to talk with, an articulate and passionate nurse leader from the Stetler area, was talking with me about the importance of nursing leadership, and how essential it is that we support nursing leaders in their attempts to find and mentor the nurse leaders of the future—her comment to me was that many younger nurses she knew, many of whom had tremendous leadership potential, commented to her that they saw formal leadership as thankless, and overwhelming in scope and expectation. How many of us are either in these leadership roles that demand 60+, 70+, 80+ hours of work per week, or know nurses that are? Are we crazy?? I suppose that is one interpretation. Another (and much more likely) one might be that we are dedicated to the teams we support, and know that work we leave undone will have undesirable implications for our teams in the long run. Here is the point though: we are sending the message that one would have to be “a little crazy” to take on one of these roles.

How can we change this? How can we introduce balance to this craziness, and effectively coach, mentor and develop the nurse leaders of the future?  The future of our profession, and the future of health care really are riding on us figuring this out. As I think of the most effective nurse leaders I have ever known, I wonder, what would they recommend? I wonder what kind of collective action is needed, what types of supports would help. When I raise this issue, I sometimes hear that it “isn’t just about nursing or nursing leadership”, isn’t it?  The “system”  actually is mostly about solid nursing care—nursing vigilance is the main reason for organized health care—and it bears repeating that registered nurses are, by far, the largest group of health care professionals providing care in the system.  So, I think it IS largely about nursing, and nursing leadership.

This week, I am so grateful for the amazing nursing leaders I have had a chance to work with, and those I am meeting as I travel around our province.

Happy Nurses’ Week dear colleagues.

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