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Letter to the Editor by Smith on "Growing Future Nurse Leaders to Build and Sustain Healthy Work Environments at the Unit Level"

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August 3, 2010

Response by Jessica L. Smith to "Growing Future Nurse Leaders to Build and Sustain Healthy Work Environments at the Unit Level" by Rose Sherman and Elizabeth Pross (January 31, 2010).
With Reply by Author.

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to the article by Dr. Sherman and Dr. Pross, “Growing Future Nurse Leaders to Build and Sustain Healthy Work Environments at the Unit Level,” which I found to be very interesting. Now that I have worked as a student on nursing units in several different facilities, I can identify which of these units have had a core of stronger nurse leaders. The units with greater employee satisfaction and healthier work environments have been the units with leaders who have implemented change, motivated staff, and involved staff in decisions related to the work of the unit.

After reading this article, it dawned on me that unit leadership can come from any nurse, not only the nurse manager. Nurses are leaders every day, whether they are influencing changes in a patient’s lifestyle or motivating a patient to walk for the first time after surgery. When nurse managers utilize the leadership skills of the staff nurses and collaborate with them, they develop healthier and more effective work environments.

With more and more emphasis on patient safety, cost effectiveness, and overall satisfaction with hospital stays, nurse managers are often forced to focus on ‘managing the business’ and often forget the needs of the staff. I believe that when nursing units are staffed appropriately, nurses’ opinions are valued, and nurses are recognized for their work, we see better patient outcomes, greater retention, and healthier work environments as a result of better leadership.

Jessica L. Smith, Senior Nursing Student
Lenoir – Rhyne University
Lenoir, NC 28645