1. Hader, Richard RN, CNA, CHE, CPHQ, PhD, FAAN

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Do you have a best friend at work? Is there someone in your organization who you count on, confide in, and trust? Being held accountable to prevail despite challenging responsibilities can be lonely-even scary-if you try to succeed without assistance.

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As nurse leaders, we need to develop and sustain positive and mutually beneficial relationships. Neglecting opportunities to build partnerships with colleagues will limit our success by producing obstacles that could be mitigated if we'd chosen to seek help and support from others.


With whom should we partner? At first, you might assume that you should only align with those who profess the same as or similar characteristics to your own. Most recently, however, former Presidents George H. Bush and Bill Clinton developed a most unlikely partnership in an effort to raise funds for the victims of the tsunami and hurricane Katrina.


Your partners' strengths may require them to take alternate paths, but they must move in a parallel direction that aims at the same target.


These two distinguished political adversaries were able to set aside their differences and collaborate to achieve a common goal. Together, they were able to work to strengthen their agenda to raise millions of dollars that far surpassed any goal that they could've achieved individually. These leaders were able to role model the ability to be successful through developing partnerships that resulted in bringing thousands of people together to help others. Their collaboration and mutual respect provide evidence to support the need for the development of partnerships.


Recruiting and retaining skilled staff is one of the most challenging issues we face as nurse leaders. Developing partnerships with local colleges and universities to share resources can be reciprocally advantageous. As hospitals struggle to lower nurse vacancy rates, colleges stumble over recruiting and retaining faculty.


Hospitals should consider sharing qualified clinical faculty to educate and recruit more students into the profession. This type of collaboration can yield benefits for the student, the hospital, and the college. Students would learn from expert clinicians, the hospital would develop a recruiting advantage while simultaneously providing professional enrichment opportunities for staff, and the college would be able to offer enhanced clinical instruction.


Since the publication of the Institute of Medicine's report that claims tens of thousands of patients die each year as a result of medical errors, there's a growing expectation that nurse managers should partner with others to improve quality and patient safety through the development and implementation of evidence-based protocols. But success can only be realized when there's teamwork between nurses, physicians, and other allied health professionals. Many hospitals have been able to dramatically decrease medical complications and overall mortality by engaging staff, at all levels of the organization, to join forces to achieve seemingly impossible results.


Thriving partnerships require negotiation. Early discussion that identifies shared priorities, values, and vision will clarify expectations and facilitate success. As with any relationship it's important to establish parameters, insist on open and honest communication, and agree on implementation strategies to achieve the goal-the first essential step. Your partners' strengths may require them to take alternate paths, but they must move in a parallel direction that aims at the same target.


A nurse leader is one of the most challenging roles in healthcare. All of us require a few best friends at work. Don't try to go it alone: Seek support from your manager, peers, direct reports, and other colleagues. Through partnering, you'll realize success.