LeAnn Thieman is a nurse with thirty years experience and coauthor of the bestseller Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. She gives us some valuable insight to help nurses have a better work-life balance.
What are the biggest challenges facing nurse recruitment and retention?
One of the biggest challenges is work-life balance. The younger generations (Millennials) demand it. They insist on a job that allows them the freedom to spend time with friends and family, to live their priorities. The “seasoned” (Baby Boomers) nurses need work-life balance today because they are getting tired and their knees are getting weak (literally!)
What is the main reason why nurses change employers?
Nurses quit when they get burned out. Highest pay is no longer the incentive to recruit or retain nurses. Hospitals and medical institutions are finding creative ways to help their nurses care for themselves as they care for others, and to find more balance in their lives.
Is nursing still a good profession to get in to and how has it changed over the years?
Yes! Nursing is a great profession to enter today! The United States, and indeed the world, is facing a nursing shortage of crisis proportion within the next ten years. There are so many areas of nursing to choose from, a nurse can work home care or intensive care, pediatrics or geriatrics, in schools or in corporations. You can work part time or full time, in various shifts that fit your personal, family, and career goals.
Who would you discourage from going in to nursing or health care?
The only people I would discourage would be those who enter this profession of caring for the wrong reasons. Nursing is a calling, a desire to help people in their toughest times. It takes a compassionate heart and caring hands to be a good nurse.
You are a deeply spiritual and thoughtful person and this has helped you through difficult times. Do you think this is something that can be taught in nursing or medical schools?
More and more the medical profession is accepting the reality that the mind, body and spirit are interrelated and each an important part of the healing process. Half of America’s medical schools now teach courses in religion and spirituality because of their impact on patients’ health. Ninety-nine percent of doctors believe there is an important relationship between the spirit and the flesh. Nursing schools must include this in their curriculum as well.
Many people are moved by reading your life-changing lessons from the Vietnam Orphan Airlift. What stories have you read about others that inspire you?
I read approximately 2000 stories for each of the 12 Chicken Soup for the Soul books I’ve written, and each one inspires me. True accounts from nurses, caregivers, grandmas, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, plus amazing stories about adoption, miracles and answered prayers! I find myself wiping tears as I read of perseverance, inspiration, and benevolence.
What is the best advice that someone has given you to help you balance your work and family life?
The best advice was given by my mother, who taught me to always put family first. Still, as she and dad raised 8 children on the farm, she went to night school to become a teacher and got her degree at age 56. Mom believed that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. She reminded us that indeed we can have it all…just not all at the same time. I chose to work part time until our children were out of the nest. I think my speaking and writing career has blessed with abundance because I made raising our children my #1 priority, and then worked on my new “purpose under heaven.”
Is there a country you would like to visit that you have not had the opportunity to see?
Italy is next.
When was the last time you were in Saigon?
1975! I haven't been back since but I feel the calling to go back soon.
100 little babies lay three and four to a cardboard box, strapped in the belly of a gutted cargo jet. Saigon was falling to the communists - - and LeAnn was caught up in the Vietnam Orphan Airlift. Believing we all have individual “war zones,” LeAnn’s poignant, yet humorous presentations motivate audiences to balance their lives, live their priorities, and make a difference in the world. She has been featured in Newsweek, PAX-TV, FOX-TV, NPR and PBS. She is coauthor of 12 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. LeAnn@LeAnnThieman.com