How does a work environment impact your nursing?

Healthcare professionals work under stressful conditions so they need a workplace that is safe, healthy, empowering and satisfying.

Experts say that welcoming and comfortable work environments increase nurse retention and improve the quality of care for patients.

This article highlights how enhancing your work environment and surroundings can have lasting benefits for your staff and patients.

What does a healthy nursing environment look like?

According to research conducted by BMC Health Services Research1, interviewed nurses warranted that several elements contribute to a healthy nurse working environment and positive patient experiences.

  1. Clinically competent nurses
  2. Collaborative working relationships
  3. Autonomous nursing practice
  4. Adequate staffing
  5. Control over nursing practice
  6. Managerial Support
  7. Patient-centered culture

These seven points, if incorporated into a nursing environment, are likely to result in more positive patient and staff experiences of nursing care.

What strategies can improve work environments for Nurses?

An article from ‘The Journal of Excellence in Nursing Leadership’ discussed six strategies that Nurse Unit Manager, Nancy Geedey, has implemented into her workplace to ensure that her staff sincerely enjoy coming to work each day. Nancy explained that these six strategies have been successfully proven by corporations to aid in the improvement of creating positive work environments for all2:

  1. Creating an environment where humour is encouraged is said to promote comfort and staff who experience joy in their work will reflect this throughout the day.
  2. Creating a true open door policy enables employees to feel safe to voice their concerns and ideas thus, making them feel valued.
  3. Making sure values and expectations are clear from the point of employment and are reviewing these at employee performance reviews.
  4. Keeping the environment simple for your staff can decrease stress levels
  5. Keeping the work area orderly and uncluttered equals a healthy and comfortable work environment
  6. Recognising volunteers within your team and encouraging staff to be involved in community programs can boost morale and provide a sense of empowerment.

How do Nurses and the working environment affect patient experiences?

Your patient's experiences can help provide a unique insight on the healthcare being provided and can also give perspective into your patient's journey and their quality of care. Measuring patient experiences has become increasingly more recognised globally as an integral part of the delivery of quality healthcare and a critical component for patient-centered nursing environments. Taking some time to understand your patient’s needs, beliefs and attitudes and adapting care to meet their preferences and expectations, is said to lead to an effective patient-staff relationship3.

As nurses spend a lot of time with their patients, they can have a major impact on patient experiences. So, it makes sense that a nurses’ greatest power for improving patient experiences lies within their ability to effectively and empathetically communicate to their patients. 

“Nurses must gain autonomy over their own practice in order to improve patient experiences”  BMC Health Serv Res (2014)

Read 7 ways nurses can ease hospital anxiety in younger patients.

What are the benefits to a healthy nursing environment?

Creating a healthy work environment can enable nurses to provide high standards of empathetic patient care while being fulfilled in their role. Studies have shown that a healthy nursing work environment can lead to high engagement from staff, decreased burnout, increased nurse retention and positive patient care and experiences4

There is also more evidence to suggest that facilities who implement strategies to encourage a healthy work environment outperform those facilities who are not. Some more benefits include; less moral distress and lower rates of workplace violence. There are undoubtedly more positive strategies to actively engage in for improving the overall health of your work environment - what is the most important benefit to you and your nursing?

  1. Kieft, R.A., de Brouwer, B.B., Francke, A.L. et al. How nurses and their work environment affect patient experiences of the quality of care: a qualitative study. BMC Health Serv Res 14, 249 (2014). 
  2. Geedey, N. (2006). Create and sustain a healthy work environment. Nursing Management, [online] 37(10), p.17. Available at:
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Patient experience of health care. [online] Available at:
  4. (2020). [online] Available at:


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