Joint Topic: COVID/Team and Leadership Perspectives — Leading In a Time of Crisis- Lessons Learned From A Nurse Leader During a Pandemic (232-2)

2:15 – 3:15 pm Saturday, October 30

When reflecting on 2020, we must consider that nurses never imagined going through a pandemic, nor did any leader anticipate how it would extend into our professional and personal lives.

With no playbook for the situation, we needed a different strategy and approach—thinking on your feet, being transparent about not having all the answers, and facilitating rapid cycle change all impact how a team will handle a crisis. In the early days of the pandemic, our immediate needs were very different, and they have since evolved. With every topic or decision that had to be made came another decision. The immediate concerns included: What do we know about this virus and how do we prepare? Will we be able to manage the volume of patients and have enough staff? As the pandemic wore on, the concerns started to revolve around addressing moral distress, grieving for patients lost, coping with work stress and home life, and caring for oneself. How would we keep our staff engaged and safe in the long run? The lessons I learned from leading nursing in a large healthcare system included these: (1) Foster the trust of your teams by being transparent. (2) Communicate as much as you, and as often as you can. Repeat, repeat, repeat. (3) Do not waste any of the planning; have a proactive plan. (4) Be transparent about what you are doing for self-care and support—your teams need to feel safe and know they are supported. What I learned about myself: in the midst of learning from societal culture shock and figuring out how to channel my inner strength, for the first time in my nursing career, I was managing more anxiety than stress, which made me embrace mindfulness and self-compassion. In leading and assuming a new leadership role during a worldwide pandemic, what I needed to stay true to myself was to be humble, be kind, be transparent, and be forgiving.