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What Nurse Leaders Can Do to Create a Healthy Work Environment

A healthy work environment means better patient outcomes and care delivery for healthcare professionals. See how nurse leaders work to promote these beneficial conditions.


A healthy work environment is vital—especially when it comes to improving the quality of patient care. Healthy workplace conditions cut down on medical errors, enhance the effectiveness of care delivery, and reduce conflict and stress among healthcare professionals.1 So what exactly can nurse leaders do to create and promote a healthy workplace? Below, we outline the six standards set in place by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) on how nurses can establish and sustain a healthy work environment.1

Communicate effectively.

According to the AACN, “Nurses must be as proficient in communication skills as they are in clinical skills.” Communication is invaluable when it comes to elevating patient care and preventing medical errors. In fact, failure to communicate effectively—whether with patients or staff—is often linked to an increased risk of unintended harm at the hands of nurses.

Be willing to collaborate.

Like poor communication, poor collaboration efforts also have a negative impact on patient outcomes. The ability to foster true collaboration is key to maintaining a healthy work environment and helps nurses ensure the safety of hospitals. It also promotes satisfaction among staff and increases the overall retention of nurses.

Demonstrate valuable decision-making skills.

AACN states that, “Nurses must be valued and committed partners in making policy, directing and evaluating clinical care, and leading organizational operations.” In these instances, informed and pragmatic decision-making makes all the difference. And the responsibility isn’t just on nurses to participate in these events, but for organizations to include experienced nurses in clinical and operational decisions. In fact, studies show a failure to do so can lead to harmful outcomes.2

Meet staffing needs.

In addition to experiencing burnout and compassion fatigue, overworked nurses negatively impact the quality of patient care and a hospital’s bottom line. “Further evidence confirms that the likelihood of serious complications or death increases when fewer registered nurses are assigned to care for patients,” AACN reports. Inevitably, there is a higher rate of dissatisfaction and nurse turnover due to inadequate staffing.

Provide sincere recognition.

Giving meaningful recognition and credit where and when it’s due has a tremendous effect on attracting and retaining nurses. And according to those in the field, recognition from patients, families, and fellow nurses make the biggest difference. Evidence also indicates that rewarding nurses for their contributions is an effective tool that helps to create a more harmonious and healthy work environment.

Lead with authenticity.

To be successful and impactful nurse leaders, nurses must do their due diligence to create, promote, and engage others in upholding the standards set in place by the AACN. A healthy work environment relies on those in a nursing manager or chief nursing executive role to lead by example. This is achieved by adhering to—and promoting—the proven principles that help establish and maintain a better workplace as well as patient outcomes.

Position Yourself to Make a Bigger Impact With an MSN Degree From Walden

Nursing is leading the healthcare industry in terms of forecasted job growth in the U.S., creating a steady rise in positions for nurse practitioners.3 Overall employment of nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners is projected to grow 45% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.4 And as the field continues to evolve, so should your competencies.

Walden’s CCNE-accredited Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program can help you drive your goals forward, whether you want to work one-on-one with patients or influence care on a larger scale. Earning your master’s in nursing enables you to develop the skills you need to make a difference. And if your passion lies in directly impacting the care and service received by patients and families throughout their healthcare experience, you can tailor your MSN program by choosing the Nurse Executive specialization. In this specialization, you can prepare to serve in a variety of leadership roles, including as a nurse manager or director of nursing.5

At Walden, an accredited university, you can earn your degree online while you continue to work full time. That means you don’t have to put your nursing career on hold while you earn your degree. With online education you can take classes at whatever time of day works best for you as you work toward your master’s in nursing.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a suite of nursing degree programs online, including a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

5Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing (BSN), master’s degree program in nursing (MSN), post-graduate APRN certificate program, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Walden University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,