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4 Problems CNOs Need to Solve in 2024

Analysis  |  By G Hatfield  
   April 29, 2024

CNOs have complex intersecting issues to overcome in the modern landscape of nursing.

Modern problems require modern solutions, and in nursing it's no different.

Current pain points for nurse leaders surpass the realm of just caring for patients. From the rise of AI to the surge of negative perceptions on social media, CNOs have a lot to address.

The 2024 HealthLeaders CNO Exchange wrapped up last week in Florida after three days of enthusiastic idea-sharing and elevated discussion about the biggest topics in nursing. Here's how CNOs are tackling the key issues that are keeping them on their toes.

Creative recruiting  

Recruiting is a huge piece of the puzzle, especially amid the nursing shortage. The Exchange members spoke about implementing scholarship and tuition reimbursement programs as a way to both recruit and retain nurses who are beginning their careers or continuing their education. CNOs should also consider elevating the role of LPNs to help support patient care in a more effective way.

Additionally, the members talked about the importance of sourcing new nurses from local communities in a socially responsible way. If the community is serving itself, it can result in improved recruitment, retention, representation, and potentially less workplace violence incidents. Having that positive cycle of community can also influence the narrative surrounding nursing and push a more positive message about the profession.

Growing new leaders

One of the biggest challenges in the nursing industry is the growing generational gap between tenured nurses and new nurses. Concerns have been raised about how to keep the knowledge of retiring nurses in the industry and how to deal with the fallout of nurse leader turnover.

At the Exchange, many members expressed the need for more nurse leaders and educators to help guide the next generation of nurses. They advocated for academic partnerships and the creation of pipelines into the nursing industry, and for starting the education process earlier.

Rather than starting nurse residency programs after new nurses graduate, CNOs could consider starting those programs during the students' junior or senior year, so that they can finish up their education and residencies simultaneously and be ready to work right away. The members also recommended that CNOs identify leaders among their workforce early and invest in growing their careers.

Building resiliency

Another generational challenge with new nurses is their lack of experience with the difficulties that come with nursing. To the Exchange members, it's important that nurses are taught throughout their education about what happens on a nursing shift and how to handle tough situations with patients, families, visitors, and other hospital staff.

On the leadership side, CNOs need to understand wellbeing and see their nurses as whole people who are processing events both at work and at home. The members emphasized the importance of this especially with nurse managers, who are often spread too thin and who are trying to appease both the frontline nurses and higher leadership.

Additionally, with workplace violence increasing across the industry, it's critical that CNOs and other nurse leaders develop more effective prevention methods. The members recommended partnering with security to create better responses when incidents occur, and empowering nurses to feel confident handling tough situations with patients.

Integrating technology

When it comes to technology, it seems like all roads lead to virtual nursing and AI. Currently, virtual nursing is largely being used to offload documentation from bedside nurses, for mentorship opportunities, and to assist with admissions and discharges. Virtual nursing has a broad future ahead, and the members spoke about how the future of all healthcare is virtual, beyond just nursing.

The Exchange members also emphasized the importance of giving nurses a seat at the table in AI integration and implementation discussions, so that the technology doesn't become a burden. CNOs need to pay attention to the messaging around AI and communicate clearly with their nurses about how the goal is to support them, not act as a replacement.

See more key takeaways from the 2024 CNO Exchange here

The HealthLeaders Exchange is an executive community for sharing ideas, solutions, and insights. Please join the community at our LinkedIn page

To inquire about attending a HealthLeaders Revenue Cycle Exchange event, email us at

G Hatfield is the nursing editor for HealthLeaders.


CNOs need to focus on recruiting nurses directly from their communities to improve recruitment, retention, perception, and safety.

Nurse leaders should be strategic with nurse residency programs and pinpoint new leaders amongst their workforce so they can help them grow.

CNOs must understand wellbeing and strive to build resiliency amongst new nurses who lack experience dealing with the difficulties of nursing.

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