Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 35(2) June 2022 : 12-28.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2022.26876
Special Focus on Respect for Nurses

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: A Key to Nurse Retention

Joan Almost and Barbara Mildon


In Canada, nurses have known about the chronic shortage of nurses for years; the pandemic has just opened the floodgates. For the authors, the current nursing crisis and the accompanying response have led to flashbacks of the early 2000s, when extensive advocacy work took place to prevent a looming nursing crisis. In the key reports reviewed in this paper, the statement "lack of respect for nursing" has echoed over and over and over again and continues to be heard today throughout social media. Based on nurses' voices, meaningful respect starts with nurse leaders and administrators recognizing nurses' education, knowledge, values and experience; seeking and listening to nurses' voices and input on decisions affecting nursing; and striving for quality practice environments with reasonable workloads, adequate supplies and resources. While long-term planning must take place to correct this, there is no easy fix and no single strategy to turn the situation around quickly. Short-term strategies to relieve nurses' feelings of disrespect are a good place to start to retain nurses and stop the bleeding. It is time to work with all the nurses to find ground-level strategies to assure a sustainable and healthy nursing workforce for today and tomorrow. In this paper, the authors provide an overview of the meaning of respect both generally and from the nurses' perspective using the literature from the past 20 years. The authors then outline several implications for nurse leaders and administrators that are relevant today.



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