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Navigating new challenges for nurse managers in 2024

Coauthored by Dr. Thomas H. Lee, Chief Medical Officer, Press Ganey.

The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) recently published its latest white paper, focused on understanding the role of today’s nurse manager. AONL assembled a task force of the nation’s top experts in nursing management, including our own Nurse Scientist Dr. Nora Warshawsky, to identify how the work of nurse managers is shifting amid an increasingly complex healthcare environment.

The task force’s findings are consistent with Press Ganey data, which shows that nurses who perceive their managers as highly engaged and competent deliver higher-quality care, miss fewer nursing care events, and are more likely to stay in their roles. These insights inform our recommendations to our clients on how to improve nurse engagement—particularly at the leadership level.

We’ve rounded up a few of the highlights.

4 challenges for today’s nurse managers

1. Managing a newer workforce, with new expectations. Nurse managers are responsible for larger teams of nurses, and charged with leading nurses of different backgrounds and experience levels. For example, Gen Z nurses have different values than the baby boomers they replaced. Instead of “living to work,” our Gen Z nurses want work that is meaningful and allows time for non-work activities. They also seek more flexibility in their work hours—and may trade full-time for part-time employment to get it. The implication for nurse managers is that they now manage more nurses, with less stable unit tenure.

2. Navigating new practice environments. Nurse managers are challenged to implement new models of care. This means they’re reintroducing licensed practical nurses to the team, and some are implementing virtual nurses. In either situation, they need to help their nurses identify the best course of care—and how to delegate that care in this new practice environment.

3. Prioritizing self-care. The sudden exodus of our baby boomer nurses sparked a transition from seasoned nursing teams to novices at every level. Newly minted nurse managers may lack role models to help them set boundaries around availability, and they often need help disconnecting or decompressing from work. In short, novice nurse managers must learn to take care of themselves first, before they can effectively promote healthy work practices throughout the nursing workforce.

4. Putting an end to the epidemic of violence. Recent data from Press Ganey’s National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) shows that two nurses in the U.S. are assaulted every hour. While most assaults are committed by patients, some instances of violence are perpetrated by caregivers themselves. Protecting our nursing workforce includes promoting healthy relationships among all workers. Combating incivility and championing inclusivity must be top priorities for organizations overall, as well as top priorities for nurse leadership. With workplace violence becoming more intense and frequent, today’s nurse leaders need to implement strong policies, reinforced with physical barriers, to protect the entire healthcare team.

The call to support our nurse managers is clear. At Press Ganey, we have several services to help nurse leaders address these challenges—and more. From big data insights, to nurse leader development programs, to continuous workforce listening tools, Press Ganey arms you with actionable strategies as you work to improve your workplace environment.

To discuss your specific challenges, and how we can help, reach out to our team of nursing experts.   

About the author

As Chief Nursing Officer, Jeff leads Press Ganey’s focus on improving patient and caregiver experience and developing nursing leadership at healthcare organizations nationwide. He also plays an integral role in the company’s workforce initiatives, including Press Ganey’s Workforce Well-Being Collaborative, which focuses on supporting caregivers as they deal with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. Prior to joining Press Ganey, Jeff served in various chief nursing officer roles at both community-based organizations and major academic medical centers throughout the US. In addition, he was the inaugural Vice President of the Magnet Recognition and Pathway to Excellence programs at the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Profile Photo of Dr. Jeff Doucette, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN