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Go Beyond Gratitude: How to Honor Your Nurse Managers


Throughout the pandemic surges that ravaged our healthcare system, we at The DAISY Foundation stood in awe of nurses' commitment to extraordinary care. Their courage, their dedication to their teams, their innovative solutions to caring for such sick patients, and their compassion to patients and families were truly breathtaking. The DAISY Award nominations we read were powerful statements of what was going on at the point of care. Visitors may have been blocked from hospitals, but nurses' impact was on display as never before. Throughout the pandemic, we wondered how nurse leaders were faring. When the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) started their COVID-19 Longitudinal Nurse Leader Impact Study, looking at the toll the pandemic was taking on leaders, we hoped for the best and expected the worst. Over the course of the survey study conducted from July 2020 to August 2021, the findings revealed a shift from an urgent need for leaders to provide material support for their teams to the need to provide emotional support for their teams and for themselves. Of course, the data revealed a plethora of severe staffing issues but it also shined a light on the emotional health and well-being of leaders -- burn-out, low morale, resignations, and so on. Very troubling to us was the data regarding nurse managers, the role we often hear is the toughest in the building.

More than one-third of them stated they did not feel emotionally healthy or very emotionally healthy. When asked about which of the advancements that had taken hold during the pandemic they wanted to see continue, wider recognition of nurses' contributions was the second most popular choice, only slightly behind the adoption of new staffing models.

The nurse manager position is too critical to the success of every healthcare organization to not take seriously the data AONL's research revealed. It was apparent to AONL that the role of nurse manager needed a hard look structurally -- its scope and work requirements. And it was apparent to us at the DAISY Foundation that we needed a call to action for nurse manager recognition. Years ago, we had created The DAISY Nurse Leader Award. We had met too many managers and other leaders who told us they love being able to honor the nurses on their teams with DAISY awards, but as managers, they were not eligible to receive The DAISY Award because they did not provide direct patient care. Knowing that leaders are responsible for the environment in which clinicians can be their compassionate best, it felt true to our mission to create an application of The DAISY Award for nurse leaders. While we made it readily available to our community of participating healthcare organizations, to be frank, prior to the pandemic, The DAISY Nurse Leader Award was not broadly adopted. It seemed the need for it just was not evident. Then the pandemic happened and with it the AONL study on its impact on leaders. On February 14, 2022, in partnership with AONL and supported by Careismatic Brands and symplr, a healthcare operations solutions company, we launched the initiative we call Beyond Gratitude - A Tribute to Nurse Managers. We created a website that provides an in-depth description of the nurse manager role and their myriad responsibilities. You'll also find evidence underscoring the need to elevate and celebrate nurse managers and toolkits that provide a wide array of ways to elevate and celebrate nurse managers. AONL and The DAISY Foundation launched an awareness-building campaign that garnered 175,000 impressions as of June 2022. More importantly, the number of DAISY Nurse Leader Awards requested by our partner organizations increased by 96% versus the prior year. Nominated mostly by their teams, the feedback provided to managers is akin to the feedback provided to nurses by their patients.

Nominations are emotional, very meaningful statements of gratitude from clinicians to their leaders. Nurse managers are praised for their dedication to patient and staff safety, for the extra education they bring to their teams, for their resourcefulness, their mentorship, and more.

Clinicians describe their nurse managers' continued focus on compassionate, patient-centered care. A wonderful example of an inspiring DAISY Nurse Leader Honoree is Jessica Gambella's nomination. Gambella and countless other honorees embody the reason why honoring nurse managers is a beautiful extension of DAISY's mission of gratitude and recognition for nurses. Where do we go from here in support of the vital role of nurse managers? AONL is conducting a mixed methods study to understand the impact of meaningful recognition on nurse leaders. At the same time, task forces are in place redesigning the role and other aspects of health care to help restore a sense of emotional well-being. We at The DAISY Foundation will continue to promote the importance of recognizing clinicians and leaders in our drive to honor nurses wherever they practice, wherever they are in their careers. We hope you will join us on our journey.

Get together with your teammates and nominate your deserving nurse managers for The DAISY Nurse Leader Award. For more information, please visit The DAISY Foundation's website.

Find out more about The DAISY Foundation and its nurse recognition programs.