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Building a Resilient Nursing Workforce through Leadership Development


Nurses have very challenging jobs. Caring for patients can be exhausting, stressful, and even dangerous. It’s not surprising that even the most dedicated nurses sometimes consider leaving the profession.

Many registered nurses eventually do decide to leave nursing for a less stressful career, reducing an already small pool of qualified nurses and putting pressure on the remaining staff.

In the United States, we’re facing a major shortage of healthcare providers for an aging population. This is especially true in Florida, which has the worst physician shortage in the country. Many people retire in the Sunshine State and elderly people generally have more complex health needs than younger adults.

It’s estimated that we’ll need around 9 million more nurses globally to properly care for our world’s population. To achieve that, keeping nurses in the field by preventing burnout is critical.

To cope with the pressure and increased workload brought on by these shortages, nurses need to work as a team and develop incredible resilience. One way to accomplish this goal is through leadership development. Nurses need strong leadership in order to meet the demands of this challenging and essential healthcare career.

Nurse Leaders Can Create a Culture of Teamwork and Support

Nurses have to work as a team, both with each other and with other healthcare providers, in order to provide excellent care. However, it’s not always as simple as just expecting everyone to get along and have each other’s backs automatically. Creating a culture of teamwork and support starts with strong leadership.

Nurse leaders need to understand the common sources of tension that can arise within a nursing team. Generational differences that affect work styles, personality clashes, and unequal work distribution can all have an impact on relationships within a nursing team. By understanding these triggers for resentment and conflict, nursing leaders can reduce problems and leverage the individual strengths of each nurse.

By recognizing the unique talents of individuals within a team and promoting teamwork through strong social support and communication, leadership teams can improve morale, even under stressful conditions. High morale can help teams become more resilient.

The process of creating a culture of teamwork and support relies heavily on providing frequent recognition from leadership. Giving specific recognition on an individual and team level helps nurses feel appreciated and boosts their confidence. Over time, that confidence will make for a stronger team.

Improving Communication and Trust Among Team Members

Another role of leadership in developing resilient nursing teams is in improving communication and building trust. Leaders need to provide support and follow through in order to build trust. They must also be prepared to take responsibility when they’ve made a mistake. Modeling that behavior also has the benefit of setting expectations for communication and trust-building between nursing team members.

Misunderstandings are frequently the source of tension among team members in any workplace, and by setting the tone for direct, clear, and kind communication, nurse leaders can help team members develop trust in each other. Trust within a nursing team helps to build resiliency because team members know that they can count on each other to be honest and have each other’s backs.

Reducing Burnout by Building Resiliency

Resilience is necessary for helping to prevent burnout among nurses. Without strong leadership that builds resilience, many nurses will experience burnout eventually, due to chronic stress. Individual nurses and nursing teams with high levels of resiliency, however, can cope with problems and maintain an optimistic outlook that is essential for preventing burnout.

Nurse leaders can also help to combat burnout by providing training and support while becoming role models. Burnout prevention requires clear boundaries between work and personal time, plenty of rest, and adequate self-care. A well-developed leadership team can help each nurse find effective strategies for building resilience and reducing chronic stress.

Leadership is the “Glue” for Strong Nursing Teams

Investing in leadership development is a simple way for healthcare organizations to improve nurse retention and reduce burnout among their nursing staff. Individual nurses can accomplish a lot on their own, but they need support from leadership and from each other, especially on difficult days.

Leadership is the glue that binds strong and resilient nursing teams together. They are there to inspire, encourage, and support. By developing the next generation of nursing leaders, healthcare organizations can reduce turnover and staffing issues, reduce burnout, and manage stress among nursing staff.