Large partnership grant trains nurse leaders to improve nurses’ work environments

One of the biggest obstacles to nursing satisfaction and retention is the challenging work environment that nurses must contend with on a daily basis, not just here in Quebec but around the world.  A study  underway at McGill University’s Ingram School of Nursing (ISoN) and eight partner institutions under the direction of Principal Investigator Laurie Gottlieb, RN, PhD, is designed to improve nurses’ work environments by training leaders and managers. “We believe that by applying the principles of Strengths-based Nursing and Healthcare (SBNH), nurse leaders can help create a major shift in nurses’ work environments,” says Professor Gottlieb, former director of the ISoN and developer of SBNH, a human-centered approach to nursing.

Entitled “Transforming Nurses’ Work Environments through a Strengths-Based Leadership and Management Training Program”, the study is funded jointly by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Healthy Productive Work Partnership Grant (2018-2024). In addition to McGill University, partner institutions include Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Ile-de-Montréal, the CIUSSS de l’Ouest- de-l’Ile-de-Montréal, the Canadian Nurses Association, and Concordia University.

According to McGill’s Office of Sponsored Research, this is the first partnership grant in McGill’s history to be led by a project director based in McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

A Strengths-Based Nursing and Healthcare Leadership Program was developed and delivered online to 121 emerging and established nurse leaders and managers from five partnered healthcare institutions. An active learning approach integrated the use of stories to encourage reflection, sharing and deeper meaning. The goals of the program were to increase nurse leaders’ understanding of SBNH as well as how to support staff to incorporate SBNH in their nursing practice, to create harmony between approaches to clinical care and leadership, and to empower leaders to positively transform their workplace environments.

The program was accredited for up to sixty-one hours of continuing professional education through the Continuing Nursing Education Office of the Ingram School of Nursing. The first cohort of 55 participants attended the program from September 2021 until March 2022, while the second cohort of 66 participants completed the six-month program in October 2022. The study team is conducting quantitative and qualitative mixed-methods evaluation of both cohorts, and aims to publish comprehensive results next year.

A summary of qualitative results from the first cohort was presented in French at the 8e congrès mondial du Sécretariat international des infirmières et infirmiers de l’espace francophone. (Lavoie-Tremblay, M., Boies K., Clausen C., Fréchette J., Manning K., Mastroberardino M., Gottlieb L. (2022). L’impact d’une formation en leadership auprès des gestionnaires infirmiers en contexte de pandémie.). The authors reported that program participants stated that they are better able to integrate the SBNH Leadership language into their day-to-day leadership, which has given them a greater awareness of their leadership approach.

The team behind the research study has also received encouraging messages of endorsement from the nursing leaders involved.

“This has been a very inspiring and empowering program. SBNH has taught me that every problem/conflict is an opportunity to grow,” said Kathy Kana’an, a staff nurse from the MUHC who participated in the SBNH Leadership Program.

Beverley-Tracey John, Director of Nursing at the CIUSSS de l’Ouest- de-l’Ile-de-Montréal and co-investigator on the research team, commented on the importance and timeliness of this study, “This project will demonstrate the direct and positive impact that SBNH can have on the healthcare continuum. The nursing profession must lead healthcare into its next chapter. SBNH will help us tell the story.”

More information on the Strengths-Based Nursing and Healthcare Leadership Program can be found on the research project’s website: