ANA defines a healthy nurse as one who takes care of his or her personal health, safety, and wellness and lives life to its fullest capacity – physically, mentally, spiritually, and professionally. A healthy work environment is defined as one that is safe, empowering, and satisfying. This definition has its roots in occupational health and safety, but has expanded to embody the healthy nurse within the healthy work environment. A combination of worksite wellness and occupational health is needed to promote the health, safety, and wellness of the nurse and other health care workers, as well as patients and their families.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has trademarked this concept in their Total Worker Health™ program. This program integrates health protection and health promotion. Four key areas with twenty essential elements are identified: organizational culture and leadership, program design, program implementation and resources, and program evaluation. The purpose of the program can be summarized by the following statement from NIOSH’s website:
NIOSH believes that the safest and healthiest worker only evolves in an atmosphere where management is fully engaged in the wellbeing of its staff, where the environment is hazard-free and supportive, and where workplace policies and interventions encourage healthier choices—simply put, where the total health of the worker, in the broadest possible sense, is optimized.
NIOSH also identifies the need for a human-centered culture. We might call that a culture of caring, supported by a strong culture of safety. NIOSH defines it as a culture built on trust, not fear, supported by leadership and middle management, much like a just culture. A just culture creates an atmosphere of trust, encouraging and rewarding people for providing essential safety-related information, as defined by John Reason and supported by ANA in its position statement on the topic.
No matter how you name it, the concepts are the same. A just culture and a combined culture of caring and safety are paramount, in which leaders, managers, healthcare workers, and ancillary staff have a responsibility as part of the patient-centered team to perform with a sense of professionalism, accountability, transparency, involvement, efficiency, and effectiveness. Team members must be mindful of health and safety for both the patient and the healthcare worker in any setting providing health care, to provide a sense of safety, respect, and empowerment to and for all persons.
Through its HealthyNurse™ and healthy work environment initiatives, ANA provides member nurses with programs, products, and services that support worksite wellness. Information is available on the ANA website at www.nursingworld.org.
Suzy Harrington is the director of the department for health, safety, and wellness at ANA.