Getting Real About Caring
What I Discovered about Authentic Caring as a Nurse Leader
and One Step Forward
By Pat McClendon
Book conclusion :
Conclusion: Saving Nurses
Authentic caring certainly exists today, but not at the frequency or systemic level it could if it was a conscious and visible part of our work environments. The essence of nursing is authentic caring. Authentic caring has always been the central anchor of nursing’s contribution to health care and society. And now, society’s wellness renaissance is shifting expectations of health care closer into alignment with nursing caring science. In addition, patient experience metrics are reflecting patients’ recognition of the health and healing powers of nurses’ authentic caring and connections. “Caring consciousness skills are as critical as clinical skills to patients’ wellbeing, nurses’ caring connections, healthcare’s organizational cultures, and society’s wellness (McClendon 2017,41).2
This shift in alignment and recognition of nursing comes at a time when nurses’ authentic caring capacity is waning. Nurse attrition evidence indicates that nearly half of the population of nurses may be looking for ways to leave nursing. The reality is that the pace and complexity in nurses’ jobs leave too many nurses feeling alone and disconnected from their original purpose in being a nurse. How nurse leaders within the healthcare industry locally and at large address this nurse condition and nursing attrition is the challenge before us. It is not just about job satisfaction, it is about nurses being able to thrive in nursing. Creative cultivation of collateral pathways is needed to help more nurses stay in nursing. While the majority of retention efforts focus on mitigating job and environmental stressors that drive nurses out of nursing, equal time and effort must be given to what keeps nurses in nursing. There is a lot of territory to cover. Nurses learning to thrive in nursing can offset attrition. The mission is to expand caring consciousness cultivation at the grassroots level for more nurses beyond the current reach.
Understanding these contextual forces brings nurse leaders to a new territory, one of seeing their roles anew. This is a big ask. Nurse leaders are already stretched beyond capacity. Nurses need help and so do nurse leaders. Through this book, nurse leaders can hopefully see the complexity of their roles more clearly and feel better about themselves knowing that they are not alone. By telling my story, I hope other nurse leaders will see their stories and new caring cultivation pathways to be created in their world.
How nurse leaders lead caring impacts how caring is recognized, understood and valued by all within the health care industry. Nurse leaders giving voice to authentic caring and connecting with nurses in caring discovery and cultivation is one step forward in helping nurses learn to thrive in nursing. This will save nurses from leaving nursing. This can be each nurse leader’s twenty-first century legacy.