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New AONL/DAISY Campaign Gives Overlooked Nurse Managers Their Due

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   March 10, 2022

'Beyond Gratitude' campaign is designed to provide meaningful recognition and workplace support to nurse managers.

Bedside nurses aren't the only clinicians battered by COVID-19; nurse managers have suffered from the pandemic, and the American Organization of Nurse Leaders (AONL) Foundation and the DAISY Foundation are looking to correct that.

Beyond Gratitude: A Tribute to Nurse Managers is a three-phase campaign designed to recognize nurse managers' contributions, address their challenges, and provide meaningful recognition and support, says Deborah Zimmermann, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, CEO of The DAISY Foundation.

The campaign is in response to an AONL Foundation study where, of more than 800 managers who completed a quantitative survey, one in three reported they were not emotionally healthy and 20% said they were contemplating leaving the profession, Zimmermann says.

Respondents participating in the qualitative portion of the study reported a need for meaningful recognition and support, according to AONL.  

"Their contributions have been reported in the literature for over 20 years. They are the chief executive officers of their unit. They recruit, retain, drive organizational success, and create a culture of trust and excellence and performance," Zimmermann says. "So, these were alarming all of us who saw this."

The campaign is divided into three phases.

Phase 1: Provide meaningful recognition

"The first part is public recognition of the complexity and contribution of nurse managers and an increased awareness of the nurse manager role and their work and to publicly thank them for their work," Zimmermann says.

Organizations are provided ready-to-use materials, such as emails, to express their gratitude to nurse managers. They can be found at

Phase 2: Redesign nurse managers' work

"We've known for 20 years that there needs to be a redesign of the work of nurse managers, and in the survey they've given us some guidelines related to that," Zimmerman says.

"One is to recognize their work, look at their span of control, and [see if] they can have more flexible hours," she says. "These are not necessarily easy, but they are within the control of healthcare organizations, so we are asking senior leaders to sit down with their nurse managers and begin to discuss the role and how can we make this a sustainable, worthwhile career."

Phase 3: Conduct research of nurse manager recognition

Meaningful recognition of leaders has been linked to greater job satisfaction, productivity, loyalty, and engagement in the business sector, but little has been published about nurse manager recognition, according to AONL.

Little also has been done to recognize nurse managers, Zimmermann says.

"The third part of the campaign is to conduct research to demonstrate that meaningful recognition and redesign in the work really does have an impact on nurse leaders the same way that research on clinical nurses has already been evidenced," she says.

Part of that recognition is DAISY's Nurse Leader Award, which will be a way to "sustainably recognize their contribution," she says.

Of the 5,000 hospitals participating in the DAISY Foundation, only about 400 of them honor nurse leaders, Zimmermann says.

That's because many weren't aware of such an award or they didn't think they were eligible while others said they didn't they should be recognized because it was more important to recognize their staff, she says.

"What we have found, though, is when nurse managers are recognized," she says, "it fills their cup the same way that it fills those of the clinical nurses."

Related: Meaningful Recognition a Powerful Motivator for Nurses

“We've known for 20 years that there needs to be a redesign of the work of nurse managers, and in the survey they've given us some guidelines related to that.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


One in three nurse managers surveyed reported they were not emotionally healthy and 20% were considering leaving the profession.

Little has been done to meaningfully recognize nurse managers.

An AONL/DAISY campaign aims to provide recognition and support to nurse managers.

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