Growing Future Nurse Leaders to Build and Sustain Healthy Work Environments at the Unit Level

Rose Sherman, EdD, RN, NEA-BC, CNL, and Elizabeth Pross, PhD, RN



There is growing evidence in the nursing literature regarding the positive impact of healthy work environments on staff satisfaction, retention, improved patient outcomes, and organizational performance. The establishment of a healthy work environment requires strong nursing leadership at all levels of the organization, but especially at the point of care or unit level where most front line staff work and patient care is delivered. Growing future nurse leaders is a long term quest. It can be challenging for today's leaders to predict what knowledge, skills, and abilities will be needed to lead in the future. This article presents a review of the literature regarding the importance of healthy work environments in health care organizations and the significant role of nurse leaders in building and sustaining these healthy environments. It also discusses the development of leadership skills by presenting the Nurse Manager Leadership Collaborative Learning Domain Framework, a widely used competency model for nursing leadership development that can serve as a useful resource in the development of leaders at the unit level.

Purpose/Goal: To present evidence-based practical strategies to grow future nurse leaders who can build and sustain healthy work environments at the unit level.


1. Discuss the relationship between effective nursing leadership skills and the establishment of a healthy work environment.
2. Identify key elements of a healthy work environment.
3. Describe the three domains in the Nurse Manager Leadership Framework.
4. Use practical strategies presented in the article to promote the development of leadership skills in support of healthy work environments.


Dr. Rose Sherman is the Director of the Nursing Leadership Institute in the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) where she is also an Associate Professor and Program Director of the Nursing Administration and new Clinical Nurse Leader tracks in the graduate nursing program. Prior to joining the faculty at FAU, she had a 25-year nursing leadership career with the Department of Veterans Affairs. She is widely published and speaks nationally on the topic of nursing leadership development. Dr. Elizabeth Pross is an Assistant Professor in the Christine E Lynn College of Nursing at the FAU. She has had 28 years of experience as a registered nurse, the last 11 years of which were in nursing education and administration. She currently serves as an appraiser for the American Nurses' Credentialing Center Magnet Recognition Program® which she has done for the past 6 years. Her research interests include transforming health organizations through caring values and transformational leadership.

The planners, reviewer, and authors of this activity have disclosed no relevant financial relationships with any commercial companies pertaining to this activity.

Contact Hours: 1.81

Expiration Date: 3/31/2014


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