By: Linda C. Scaz, RN, PHD, FCN
Faculty, The Institute for Healthcare Excellence


A few years ago, a nursing colleague who worked as a supervisor in a large community hospital decided to leave both her job and the nursing profession. She went to work in a department store in the gift-wrapping area. I was shocked that this strong, dedicated nurse leader would do something so out of character. When I asked her about her decision she said, “I was totally burnt out and no one appreciated my work or even noticed my caring and devotion to what I was doing”.


Such a simple but sad explanation to a complex problem, yet in today’s healthcare organizations more than half of the physicians and nurses in our country are dealing with burnout and compassion fatigue. This is turn impacts the quality of care delivered to our patient and their families as well as how we in turn treat our colleagues. What is the solution?


Research has shown that one possibility is practicing the simple act of appreciation or showing gratitude toward others. By being appreciative, benefits of improved health and well-being for ourselves and others have been proven to occur; improved attitude, better sleep patterns and physical changes such as lowered blood pressures.

Organizations across the country are exploring methods to incorporate this skill of appreciation into their daily work. From simple handwritten thank you notes, to daily huddles, gratitude boards, and actual courses in appreciation, healthcare is getting excited and on board with this concept in an effort to prevent burnout and save our country’s dwindling number of providers.


On a recent medical mission trip to a Third World country, the patient I was caring for took my hand and said to me, via the interpreter, “thank you for leaving your family to care for my family”. Appreciation, it is said in many languages, in many ways and means so much.


As providers, let’s foster appreciation within ourselves and amongst our co-workers each day, the future of healthcare in our country depends on it.


Learn more about how you and your organization can incorporate the skill of appreciation into your daily work:


The Institute for Healthcare Excellence partners with healthcare organizations to nurture relational skills necessary to create a culture that embraces trust, respect, compassion, and teamwork – creating an environment where quality, safety, and efficiency can flourish. Through this work, physicians, nurses, and the caregiver team reconnect to purpose and restore joy to the practice of medicine. The result of the culture-transforming work is a restoration of humanity to medicine.