Leading at the Peak of the COVID-19 Curve

Here we are, at the peak of the COVID-19 curve. The past several weeks have forced most healthcare organizations to implement some drastic measures. From furloughing staff, cutting benefits and base pays where census has dropped, to addressing an unprecedented influx of critical patients with the deadly COVID-19 virus where workforces are overworked, physically, emotionally, and ethically exhausted we’re all learning as we go. 

Where is the benchmark? How do we model addressing this tremendous burden? Which leaders are going to be able to withstand the storm and dig deep enough to provide safe passage for their patients and the staff caring for them until we get to the bottom of the curve? 

If it is possible to extend guidance to nursing leaders at a time like this, it would be to lean into the fundamental strengths that promote a culture of nursing excellence. You do not have to be a Magnet Designated® facility to do it! The Magnet Recognition Program® framework provides some valuable reminders of qualities that the highest performing nurse leaders (from the CNO through Directors, and Nurse Managers) should openly model. 

A few of those nurse leader qualities are as follows: 

  • Be visible and accessible 
    • Grab some scrubs and PPE– protect yourself! 
    • Engage staff while rounding- meet them where they are 
    • Model empathy- staff should understand that a leader genuinely cares 
  •  Be influential across organizational decision-making 
    • Your voice and influence should transcend beyond all areas where nursing is practiced 
  • Be an advocate for nurses’ needs 
    • First, know what those needs are! Approach and be open to being approached and learn from those interactions. 
    • Have the hard conversations with staff. They are afraid and fear for their own safety.  
    • Nurses should know that their leaders are advocating for their safety and for the safety of their patients 
    • What have you provided for your nursing staff that would not have been there without your advocacy? 
  • Be agile and innovative, especially during unplanned change 
    • Understand what you can do to help- think outside of the box! Actually, throw the box away!!  
    • “The same old way” isn’t going to work this time!! Be a risk-taker! Invoke the power of “yes” as long as safety is not compromised 
    • Find a way to recognize your nurses in the midst of chaos… Nurses Week is May 6-12! 
  • Be a strong visionary 
    • What does the bottom of the curve look like? 
    • Short term and long term, what is the vision for the future of nursing at your organization and how can you impact it? 

Start today! We believe in you and if you haven’t heard this in a while, we are proud of you! 


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