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Nurse Leaders Advise on Work/Life Balance

Betty J. Noyes, RN, for HealthLeaders Media, October 19, 2010

When did I first look into the mirror and then into my soul and decide, "Wow, I am a sage!" It happened about six months ago when someone said I was too old to be on the cover of a magazine. I declared, "I am not too old. I am now a sage and sages are valued."

If you have been a chief nurse executive or other c-suite officer for more than 10 years, you should know that your accumulated skills and knowledge are creating the sage in you. You have learned to perceive with your senses the best path forward without always consulting a map. At the core of your skills, you have learned how to read people and empathetically understand their aspirations, fears, and talents.

With your sage hat on, people seek your creative advice without regard to your title or status. Put your officer's hat back on and people ask for your policies, procedures, and payroll.

Similar to mentors, sages are colleagues whose voice you find comfort in. So I have surveyed colleagues in nursing leadership and asked what sage advice they would offer to us. Here are the responses to the four questions.

1: What advice would you give a CNE, COO, or CEO about living a full and rewarding life with personal and professional balance?

The recurring response was to not let work become the number one priority and to never lose sight of your values.

Few of us have taken the time to identify core values, define those values in terms that will reflect visible behavior, and hold ourselves accountable to exhibit those behaviors. If you value your family and your personal care, define how you will exhibit those behaviors and hold yourself accountable to those values. As we expect employees to hold and respect the values of the organization, we must respect our own personal values.

Respondents said things such as, "The organization will continue with or without you," "Balance between home and work is critical to your survival," and "Do not have the expectation that your work will help you take time to care for yourself."

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