by Susan Sanders, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Learning & Innovation Officer, CGFNS International
Meaningful Recognition is Key to Nurse Retention
The American Nurses Association has identified the month of May as “Nurses Month” and week two (May 8-14) will focus on “Recognition”. This prompts me to ask: What is recognition and why is it important?
Nurses have consistently been recognized as trusted professionals, yet we have struggled to retain nurses in the profession! Research shows that a healthy work environment decreases nurse turnover rates and improves the quality of patient care. In fact, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) in their first edition of AACN’s Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments: A Journey to Excellence (AACN, 2005) identified meaningful recognition as one of six critical standards to promote a healthy work environment. Adams et al. (2019) identified meaningful recognition as a significant predictor to decrease burnout in an emergency room. Kelly et al. (2015) and Kelly and Lefton (2017) also found that meaningful recognition was predictive of decreased burnout and higher compassion satisfaction. An important key here is that recognition must be considered “meaningful” to the recipient. Quantifying the term “meaningful” takes some thought and research. The literature reflects that in order to be meaningful the recognition should be timely and ingrained in the culture of the organization. Participants in providing the recognition should be peers, leaders, patients and family members.
The Art of Nursing
The path to become a nurse requires dedication and intelligence. The “art and science” of nursing is often discussed. The science is easy to understand and measure with course completion, grades, licensure, etc. The art of nursing may not be so easy to measure but includes behaviors/labels associated with nurses such as caring, compassionate, calm, organized, tireless and helpful. As nurses we are taught to evaluate outcomes.
Let’s remember and share that the outcomes of meaningful recognition are positive for the nurse, the patient, and the organizations where we work. Please join me in recognizing the great work of nurses in all roles and settings!
AACN. (2005). AACN’s Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments: A Journey to Excellence. https://www.aacn.org/nursing-excellence/healthy-work-environments
Adams, A., Hollingsworth, A., & Osman, A. (2019). The implementation of a cultural change toolkit to reduce nursing burnout and mitigate nurse turnover in the emergency department. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 45(4), 452-456. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jen.2019.03.004
Greene, L. (2020). Meaningful recognition and the effect on a medical-surgical unit’s staff satisfaction and retention. Scholar Works, University of Texas at Tyler. https://scholarworks.uttyler.edu/nursing_msn/88/
Kelly, L., Lefton, C., Fischer, S. A., (2019). Nurse leader burnout, satisfaction, and work-life balance. The Journal of Nursing Administration, 49(9): 404-410.
Kelly, L., Runge, J., Spencer, C. (2015). Predictors of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction in acute care nurses. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. Nov2015; 47(6): 522-528.
Psychological Associates & DAISY Foundation (2009). Literature review on meaningful recognition in nursing. https://www.daisyfoundation.org