1. Foster, Rhonda R. EdD, MPH, MS, RN, NEA-BC

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Q As we embark on a new year, how can I provide hope and encourage my staff?

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The best messages of hope and encouragement come from a place of genuine truth and sincerity. It's difficult to be convincing when you may not believe yourself. So, let's begin with our truth. Nursing has been ranked the most honest and ethical profession for 19 consecutive years. According to Gallup's annual honesty and ethics poll, 89% of Americans rated nurses' honesty and ethical standards as "very high" or "high."1


The truth is that we're honest and ethical in addition to being caring, professional advocates for patients and families. This is demonstrated in large, small, community, and academic medical centers and in both inpatient and outpatient ambulatory settings across the country as quality care is provided despite staffing shortages, resource limitations, loss of loved ones, and uncertainty in healthcare and communities. The public has always relied on the nursing profession, and they're still relying on nurses to vaccinate, test, teach, and provide care to all patients in need.


What nurses achieve with each patient, shift, day, week, month, and year is a high honor for the profession that will transcend time. To honor is to regard with great respect. It also means to pay public respect. As a leader, you can pay respect by acknowledging the work that each nurse does to bring honor to the team or unit and the organization. It's true that nurses are compensated to provide care; however, in this time of staffing shortages, they no longer must provide care in your department or within your organization.


Show esteem by considering the work your staff members are doing individually and as a team. Consideration should also be given to interdisciplinary care partners. Focus on what unique attributes or qualities your staff members bring to the profession that would be absent if they weren't part of the team. These declarations won't go unnoticed if incorporated into your regular personal communication, huddles, and team meetings, demonstrating what you value and that you're attentive to the work being done.


In healthcare, every discipline has a day or week, and nurses were honored with the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife for the last 2 years. Yet, paying public respect is much more meaningful when it's personal, specific, and affirms a nurse's goodness, value, and worth to the department or organization. This type of respect doesn't wait for a special day or week; it's spontaneous, thoughtful, and, most of all, public. The public acknowledgment lets the team know you see them and are acknowledging their work and efforts.


American Nurses Association President Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, continues to acknowledge the resilience, compassion, and dedication of nurses for the good of the public.2 He has set a wonderful example for all leaders on how to provide hope by honoring and encouraging staff as we begin a new year.




1. Saad L. US ethics ratings rise for medical workers and teachers. Gallup. 2020. [Context Link]


2. American Nurses Association. ANA president proud of nurses for maintaining #1 spot in Gallup's 2019 most honest and ethical professions poll. 2020. [Context Link]