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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB Assesses Negative Outcomes of Busyness on Nurse Executives

Dr. Maria R. Shirey, professor in the School of Nursing, and Dr. Lisle Hites, assistant professor in the department of health care organization and policy, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, recently reported on the negative outcomes of busyness experienced by nurse executives. Busyness—defined as an activity full of distracting detail and unfocused movement—does not equate to productivity or effectiveness.


[Photo: Dr. Maria R. Shirey (left) and Dr. Lisle Hites]

To be effective, leaders must spend most of their time in value-added effort that is focused and strategic. To ensure that leaders use their time effectively for maximum productivity, organizations have a responsibility to facilitate working conditions in which energy can be deployed wisely. Because organizations and their cultures may encourage and reward frantic activity, leaders must be cognizant of busyness as a destructive dynamic that, left unchecked, can interfere with achieving strategic goals. In a recent publication, Drs. Shirey and Hites introduced an energy preservation framework to break the vicious cycle of busyness that nurses in leadership roles often experience and to promote vitality that drives engagement, effectiveness, productivity, and innovation.

A concerning trend over the last 50 years reveals that current workdays are not only longer but also more intense. Compounded with industry trends that breed professionals for which a 70-hour workweek is the norm, these patterns contribute toward extreme-work models that, over time, are exhausting and not sustainable. Accordingly, Drs. Shirey and Hites posit that nurse executives must have in place strategies to prevent and reverse this dynamic. Findings reported indicate that focus is important for effective organizational strategy execution.

“Orchestrating Energy for Shifting Busyness to Strategic Work” was published in the March 2015 issue of The Journal of Nursing Administration.

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