Nursing Leadership in and of itself is inherently demanding and stressful. Nursing management roles have evolved significantly in the recent decade. In addition to increased administrative roles, patient responsibility has broadened, as well as leadership expectations, technology requirements and resource management. The role of Interim Nurse Leaders has added another dimension to the conversation. Interim Nurse Leaders often walk into unexpected situations, including compliance issues, staffing, hospital mergers, and a myriad of other scenarios.

Stress is a psychological and bodily response to events that create an imbalance or a sense of personal uneasiness. Stress can have a huge impact on individual health and can result in burnout, both personally and professionally. It can manifest itself as tiredness, worry about the future, disinterest in activities, your job or your family. This emotional and physical wear and tear on your body can affect your management style, which in turn can affect your workplace environment, the health of your staff, job satisfaction, staff retention, not to mention patient well-being. A 2015 Nurse Management Stress and Coping Study indicated that 92% of nurses experience moderate to very high stress levels. 3 main stress themes emerged:


  • This involves juggling business roles, scheduling, relationships, patients and families and on-call situations. These numerous and complex demands and expectations can leave you feeling overwhelmed


  • Being solely responsible for management, the inability to express fatigue or share concerns with anyone can lead to feelings of isolation
  • Interim Nurse Leaders can experience this in a heightened


  • The spot you are placed between managing the organizational performance requirements of upper management and the staff expectations of the people you are directly responsible for is a frequent stressor

Coping strategies for these stresses include such things as soliciting the advice of others, sharing information with peers and hopefully, a hospital consulting system. Other things that are helpful are taking mental and physical breaks. As surprising as this might be, it is OK to take a 15-minute shut-eye break or a quick trip outside around the property! It is important to recognize fatigue for what it is and take the appropriate time off. Individual coping mechanisms can be as simple as thinking positively, exercising and learning how to separate private life from professional life.

Breathe Properly

Breathing becomes shallow and fast in a stressful situation which lowers the supply of oxygen going to the brain. Ensuring you use your abdomen when breathing can lower stress by forcing you to slow down and take deep, efficient breaths.

  • Make sure you are using your abdomen for breathing
  • Practice, just 3-5 of these breaths will have a calming effect
  • Breathe deeply

Care-giving is beyond a profession for most nurses. The ones I have spoken to refer to it is a passion. Unfortunately, nurses often look at taking care of themselves as a luxury or an afterthought, when it should actually be practiced consistently and routinely. This is another component of self-care as necessary as brushing your teeth!

Our Interim Nurse Leaders at NHS Solutions are dedicated, seasoned experts who are used to dealing with high levels of stress. They are Healthcare Leaders who are driven to succeed and adapt to each facility’s unique leadership needs. Contact us to discuss your Interim Healthcare Leadership needs or speak to our recruiting team to see if an Interim Leadership Assignment for your next career move.


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