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Session Title: Nurse Well-Being in Healthcare is a Problem: Spirituality is the Solution
Speaker: Kweisi Ausar, Associate Professor, University of Nevada Las Vegas
                Sherrie Tennessee, PhD Student/Instructor, University of Nevada Las Vegas
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Session description: The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the lack of employee well-being in nursing. Prior and current research has examined the impact of workplace trauma on nurse well-being (Michael & Jenkins, 2001; Okoli et al., 2021), the effects of leadership style on nurse well-being (Ahmed et al., 2021; Nelson et al., 2014), and how workplace culture impacts nursing well-being (Cho et al., 2021; Shanafelt et al., 2018). This presentation underscores this multilevel problem and proposes solutions based on spirituality. First, at the individual level, many nurses endure the stress and trauma of witnessing ongoing suffering and death, which has a negative impact on their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. A review of the nursing literature found only 10 studies have been published on the topic of nurse spiritual self-care (Ausar et al., 2021). Second, at the leader level, both leadership style (Ahmed et al., 2021) and leader competence (Morse & Warshawsky, 2021) have been found to have an adverse impact on nurse well-being. Cummings et al. (2018) found that leadership styles that are dissonant and that only focus on finding nurses doing things wrong were negatively associated with nurse well-being. And lastly, organizational factors that negatively impact nurse well-being have been found to involve poorly functioning teams, misalignment of values, and ineffective leadership (Shanafelt et al., 2018). Solutions to the lack of well-being in nursing are spiritual in nature. At the individual level, more information needs to be shared with those considering a career in nursing, particularly those who plan to focus on critical care, hospice, or the nursing home setting. Too many people step into nursing roles without understanding the stark realities of suffering and death and without appreciating the deep meaning and purpose a career in nursing can provide. At the leader level, the spiritual intelligence framework can be the basis for the selection, promotion, and development of nurse leaders. Sahebalzamani et al. (2013) found that nurses that have high levels of spiritual intelligence tend to experience both psychological well-being and purpose in life. Bagheri et al. (2010) also found a nurse’s spiritual intelligence to be related to an optimal level of consciousness, the ability to solve problems, and spiritual characteristics such as forgiveness, modesty, compassion, and justice. These qualities are important to leadership in general but maybe more important for nurse leaders who are tasked with directing and supporting frontline nurses who are often in personal distress while working under stressful conditions. Lastly, the role of healthcare organizations in the well-being of nurses is paramount as these entities are directly and primarily responsible for the care of nurses and the selection and training of nurse leaders. Bohman et al. (2017) suggest healthcare organizations create and maintain a culture of wellness that at the individual level that involves self-care, self-compassion, and driving greater meaning in work; at the leader level a sense of community and appreciation at work must be created and maintained, and at the organizational level ensuring organizational values are aligned with both leader and individual values. Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nurses, this presentation calls for a multidisciplinary effort in elevating the well-being of nurses.

Bio: Kweisi is an Associate Professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where he teaches and conducts research on leadership, organizational behaviour, and workplace spirituality. He is a former 23-year restaurant industry executive with practical hospitality experience spanning the U.S. and Canada. Kweisi was among the first to introduce the topic of workplace spirituality in the hospitality literature (Gatling/Ausar, 2015; Gatling/Ausar et al., 2016; Milliman et al., 2016; Milliman et al, 2018), which focuses on 1) the extent to which individuals derive meaning and purpose from work, 2) the extent to which individuals have a sense of community at work, and 3) the extent to which an individual’s personal values are aligned with organizational values. Dr. Ausar spent 2 years in the Nevada Chaplain Corp, volunteering as an inter-faith chaplain at UMC and Summerlin hospitals. During this time, he personally witnessed a great deal of suffering and death, but more importantly, he observed the job-related trauma on nurses in the hospital workplace. This prompted him to turn the attention of his research toward workplace spirituality in nursing. Working with the UNLV nurse faculty, Kweisi took the lead in developing a manuscript that was published in a top tier nursing journal (Ausar et al., 2021). This article is a scoping review designed to understand how nurse spiritual self-care has been conceptualized, defined, and measured in the nursing literature. Dr. Ausar will be developing a series of interdisciplinary courses that will serve both hospitality and nursing. Based on the theoretical framework from his prior research; he will develop 3 competency-based courses focused on increasing the spiritual intelligence of leaders in the workplace. Based on his previous work with healthcare administrators, his knowledge of the nursing literature (Ausar et al., 2021), and his experience with competency development (Shum et al., 2018), he has identified several spiritual intelligence factors that he plans to operationalize into competencies, skills, and behaviours. These competency-based courses will also be useful in both the nursing and hospitality curriculum.

      Sherrie Tennessee started her career in the scientific world and spent several years as a researcher at world-renowned organizations, including Johns Hopkins University and MedImmune. Sherrie has 20 years of experience in the beauty, spa, and wellness industry in the role of a massage therapist, nail tech, spa owner, speaker, professor, educator, and author. In addition, to receiving multiple awards throughout her career, Sherrie’s writings have been published in some highly-respected industry outlets, and she has spoken at many public forums. Sherrie has a B.S. in Biology and holds a Master of Business Administration, is a Certified Integrative Health and Wellness Coach. Ms. Tennessee is currently a Ph.D. student at William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.