Creativity as a Strategy for the Nursing Shortage


 Creativity as a strategy for the nursing shortage – seriously?!

Before I explain the use of creativity as a strategy in addressing the nursing shortage, I want to share with you an interesting fact in the 2008 Gallup Survey for honesty and ethics among professions…


For the eighth consecutive year,  nursing is number #1 for most honest, ethical and most respected profession by the public.  But, I’m not at all surprised. Is there any question why? It certainly isn’t  the money or the hours, although these are important concerns.  In a very unformal survey,  nurses were asked why they became a nurse – the top answer was:

  • “I’ve always had the passion to care for others” = 57.6%
  • A nurse in my life inspired me = 17.5%
  • I wanted a job in healthcare, and nursing seemed to be a good fit = 16.7%
  • Nursing jobs are easy to find, and the pay is good = 5.0%
  • I’m wondering that too, and plan to leave the profession =3.2%        

              (Source: Advance for Nurses. Dec. 29, 2008, 10:27, p11)

Obviously, comfy work conditions, bankers’ hours and great pay are not the top reasons why nurses choose nursing – it’s the desire to make a difference in the world, and empathy for others –  what I consider to be a few key elements of social responsibility.

But, onto the nursing shortage…

In the previous post, I listed a number factors contributing to the critical nursing shortage.  Today, I decided to list a few strategies  involving creative interventions that may be helpful in addressing the nursing shortage, and here they are:

1. Implement Creativity [Arts] Programs for patients and families in inpatient settings, where the need for RNs is most critical.  However, arts programs should darlene2be implemented into every healthcare setting

First, In “The Science Supporting Creativity in Healthcare” located under TOPICS in the left sidebar, I include a study done by The Creative Center of patients’ satisfaction with the ‘art-at-the-bedside’ programs, and nurses’ response to the arts program. Here are the results again…

42.3% of the nursing staff believed the arts program affected their capacity to provide patient care. As you can see in the table below, the nursing staff felt the arts program enhanced their abilities to provide patient care

 Also, nurses’ job optimism and job satifaction increased with the implementation of the creativity program. This information can be useful as a tool in addressing nursing recruitment and retention efforts, and ultimately, the bottom line.

How Program Affected Ability to Provide Patient Care



% of those responding “Yes”

Happy to see patients’ enjoyment



Enhanced my ability to do my job



More optimistic about my job



Facilitated patient interaction



Increased job satisfaction



*Numbers add up to more than 100% because more than one response was permitted. Total number responding was 52.  Source:Final Report:Satisfaction and Outcomes Assessment. Hospital Artist-In-Residence Program of the Creative Center.

drumming2. Offer Creativity Workshops for nurses as a seminar, as a continuing education class for CEUs, as a short retreat.  Large and small businesses have corporate, management and staff retreats for team building purposes, idea generation and strategic planning.  A few workshop/seminar ideas can be drumming circles, painting classes, journaling, creativity theory class…the ideas are limitless.  By caring for professional caregivers (nurses, physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nursing faculty professors, nurse assistants, etc), they will return to caring for patients refreshed, invigorated and more creative in their approach to patient care.

3. If the public identified Nursing as the most ethical, honest and respected professiodollarn in the U.S. – why are salaries lower than attorneys, unionized mechanics, tollbooth collectors, pharmacists, truck drivers, and nearly every other job category?  Do we value the work of mechanics, toll-workers and attorneys more than nurses?  Who are you going to call at 3:00am if you need help or are sick?  A nurse or an attorney?  Have nurses salaries reflect public opinion, including nursing academicians!  The single most important factor in choosing where nurses worked was salary/benefits -> 52.5% (Advance Nurse, Dec 29, 2008). 

4. Creativity Programs for nurses, creative interventions for patients & families – a strategry for nurse recruitment and retention.  With increased job satisfaction and optimism, nurses are much less likely to change healthcare companies.  According to an informal poll by Advance Nurse (Dec 29, 2008), “a good team of co-workers” was rated the highest as the strongest retention tool.  Below is the breakdown of the categories queried:

  • Good team of co-workers -> 59.6%
  • Feeling empowered -> 19.8%
  • Salary -> 15.2%
  • Benefits -> 5.4%


One response to “Creativity as a Strategy for the Nursing Shortage

  1. Marti, Thank you for summoning the statistics that support what those of us working in this field have experienced: that when the nurse is supported and nurtured, the healthcare experience is better for patients and creates a more wholesome work environment.

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