Northwest Organization of Nurse Leaders News

February Newsletter

Executive Director Update

Snow, ice, power outages, patient surges and vaccines….

Mid-February is upon us like a heavy fog, the visibility scant but slowly lifting. Our "fog" is borne from an amalgamation of factors. Our Leaders are finding that (no surprise) the vaccine rollouts are piling onto already onerous burdens for organizations. That floods down into operations. The staffing situation is amplifying the challenge: the “travelers market” is making it hard to retain staff and is expensive to backfill the needs. There is also Nurse Leader burnout building, its rapid consumption turning up the heat at all levels of leadership, from bedside to boardroom. This is truly worrisome.

Consider the potential risk: the clinical care teams are the backbone of care delivery and the Nurse Leaders are the cornerstone from which the entire structure relies on to bear the weight. Our Cornerstone Leaders are under pressure that would flatten mere mortals. Fortunately, as Nurses we seem to be imbued with a special DNA. It’s like a superpower, something in our hearts and minds that gives us the strength to preserver one more day. However like any superhero from our stories, movies and lore, there is always a limit. Our "limits" are being tested.

What I have observed this month is that our Leaders are not quietly standing by, there is no passivity or wringing of hands. No, they are out there are actively updating their strategies and pursuing action to both mitigate and avoid the pitfalls ahead for their care teams and themselves. As much as this pandemic and ongoing challenges have us navigating in a dense fog,  I am reassured by the actions of our Leaders to move forward. You could call it “looking for bright spots”, I simply call it Nurse Leadership.

You are the faces of Courage, Grace and Grit.

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February CNO & Dean Rounding

In this months Rounding, we deviated from a structured format and stayed with virtual/ live group talk to openly discuss a serious concern: how has our Leadership strata and its core requirements (as a senior leaders) changed in response to 2020? Where is it going and how do we approach, let alone define it going into 2021 and beyond? Whoa. This was a true live event, its power was in its organic and authentic approach and interaction. A special thanks to Courtnay Caufield, DNP, RN and CNO & VP for leading our session. We thank all the Leaders present for carving out time as we truly appreciate how demanding schedules are at this time. A reminder to all Members, we don't record or "can" our interactions, the value is that they are unique conversations to be savored in the moment.  CNO & Dean Rounding is very much a place for this organic and authentic interaction for Senior Leaders. Other times we have prescribed and linear presentation and we do our utmost to capture the highlights and share them electronically. We encourage Senior Leaders to continue to support and join us as schedules permit. Contact to ensure you are on the invitation list. 

Leader Highlight 

The Leader Highlight section is your opportunity as a NWONL Leader to showcase your work, bring forward thought-leadership, share a day in the life, a call to action, a retrospective, significant project or celebration. We offer the Leader in Action as a forum for our members to shine in a deserving format, in the newsletter on on the website. It is a chance to promote the special work that you do as Nurse Leader here in the Northwest. Check out the current Leader Highlight page for past stories.  Get in touch with us, and let's capture some stories. 

Thank You Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside!

Courtnay Caufield, DNP, RN and CNO & VP of KP Sunnyside has taken the initiative to enroll both emerging and longstanding leaders in NWONL for personal and organizational advancement. Over 40 Leaders! We are honored by her commitment and confidence in NWONL. Courtnay, your support further energizes us in our endeavor to deliver on our Mission of enhancing Nurse Leaders capabilities so they can be at the center of the future of healthcare in our region. 

New Member Welcome

Well that was quite refreshing and fun!

Thank you to our Development Commission Leaders Bonnie Fryzlewicz and Allea Thomas-Putnam for hosting our New Member Meet & Greet on February 17! We understand our schedules are exceptionally constrained right now and truly appreciated getting you know everyone who was able to attend. Your ideas, concerns and desires for your membership will go along way in steering our content and delivery. We encourage all Leaders to get into a Council, take the initiative to drive though leadership, present your own content (it could be CV worthy) and consider taking on Leadership and Affiliation roles to advance your own practice and expand your personal network. 

Should you feel left out as your schedule wasn't able to allow attendance, no worries, we are aiming to schedule Meet and Greet for each quarter this year. That said, you can reach out to the Executive Director, your Regional Council Chairs or the NWONL admin anytime for questions or guidance. 

From our Partners to our Members: A Three-Point Strategy to Help Strengthen Nurse Resiliency

Rhonda Collins, DNP, RN, FAAN. CNO and VP Vocera

Each year, in conjunction with National Nurses’ Week, I write a CNO Perspective Report on a topic that is top of mind for nurse leaders. For the past two years, I have written about strategies to help reduce cognitive load for nurses and other healthcare professionals. In support of these reports and this importance topic, I have spent the past few years speaking and publishing industry articles on this topic. The response I continue to receive tells me that protecting the safety and well-being of nurses remains timely, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
In watching the toll COVID-19 has taken on healthcare workers, I realize that cognitive burden is even more of an issue now than it was before the pandemic. The mental and physical burden nurses must carry in this time of need is life altering for them. For this reason, I devoted my latest CNO Perspective Report, “Nurses Have Stepped Up. Now It’s Time to Support Them as We Move Forward,” to outlining a strategy to support, protect and empower nurses.
The report presents a short review of cognitive capacity theory, with a focus on four of its eight skills or executive functions1: Multiple simultaneous attention, working memory, category formation, and pattern recognition. It examines how these executive functions tie to the cognitive burden nurses have carried while coping with the pressures of patient care in the face of COVID-19. It also looks at how clinical leaders can leverage communication technology to simplify clinical workflows, mitigate cognitive load, and help make the lives of nurses a bit easier.
Three-Point Strategy to Help Strengthen Nurses’ Resiliency
The report outlines a three-point strategy for how principles of cognitive science can be applied in the patient-care environment. Following is a high-level summary of the three elements.
1. Address the Strategic Delta Between Documentation and Communication
With patient surges from a crisis like COVID-19, clinicians move through the hospital trying to manage critically ill patients at warp speed, and the patients just keep coming. A key lesson here is that care teams are mobile, and information must be, too. Documentation and communication must work together to relieve nurses’ cognitive burden.
2. Give Clinicians Control Over How They Communicate
The stresses of responding to COVID-19 have made it clear that hospitals need to empower nurses to control the way they communicate. We must remove from nurses the burden of constantly having to adapt to varied preferences. No nurse should have to ask, “Does this doctor want to be paged? Does the other one demand I go through the answering service? How do I call the department I need to reach?” Although nurses and physicians communicate differently, hospitals and health systems should standardize communication using the same software, so nurses don’t have to work in and out of disparate systems.
3. Use Software to Enhance Workflow, Not Distract from It
The intensity of COVID-19 and the fast-paced workflow needed to treat patients safely has demonstrated that clinicians need clear, contextual, just-in-time information. There is no time to be searching for information or struggling to communicate. Information must be pushed to the healthcare team on the go. Nurses don’t have time to remember who is on call or search through complex fields of information when they are under such pressure. Efficient clinical workflow requires purposeful communication and meaningful information centered around the patient.
Looking Forward
Now is the time to support nurses and other healthcare workers who are trauma survivors and will likely experience PTSD for a while to come. What protocols and resources can be put into place to ensure we protect nurses, we don’t run out of supplies, or unintentionally spread infectious disease? How do we ensure that communication, which is the very backbone of patient care, is considered an essential part of PPE and the new standard for safety becomes PPET?
All of us, before we leave this life, will need a nurse. These essential workers are not an infinite resource. We must protect them, so they are here when we need them. I have never been prouder of my profession and their dedication to their communities. We don’t know for sure what the future holds. But what we can do is ease the burden of frontline workers when we can, and use the lessons learned to plan for future crises that impact and strain our healthcare system.
Please join me on March 3 for an NWONL CE webinar to learn more about cognitive overload and discover solutions that can mitigate administrative and cognitive burdens, making it safer and easier for nurses to do their jobs more. Also, my team and I at Vocera are here to help. You are welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Twitter @rhondacno.
1. Cognitive Skills: Why the 8 Core Cognitive Capacities. C8 Sciences.

Help Us Acknowledge and Celebrate our Leaders!

We know you are doing exciting things out there that are worthy of Celebrating! And we have the perfect place to do that very thing in the NWONL Leader Highlights. Send us a quick note so we can be in the know

Upcoming CE Events

UPDATED: February CE - Sustainability and its Value to Healthcare Delivery. Rescheduled to Feb 23rd  4 - 5 PM PST

Recall pre-covid? Allea Thoma-Putnam MSN, RN and Director of Patient Care Services at Legacy Mt. Hood and one of our Development Commission Leaders reminded us that being strategic also means getting back to those salient issues that existed prior to our pandemic response. Building on her January Leader in Action guidance, in this CE Thomas-Putnam is providing actionable lessons for revitalizing motivation to (again) make incremental improvements in Sustainability. 
Register for the Event Here

Strategies to Reduce Cognitive Overload and Improve Nurse Well-being and Patient Safety. CE Event March 3rd, 7 - 8 AM PST

"A combination of stress, fatigue, incessant alerts and alarms, multiple demands, and shifting priorities can all lead to cognitive overload among nurses, which can lead to mistakes. It is critical for nurse leaders to find solutions that simplify clinical workflows and make the lives of nurses and other team members easier and safer." Join Rhonda Collins, DNP, RN, FAAN, VP & CNO at Vocera as she educates us on the impacts and strategies to mitigate impact of Cognitive Overload.  The full event information is here. It is a CE event! No cost to members. Non-members are encouraged to attend and if CE is desired the fee is $40. Pre-Registration Here.

Virtual Live Event - Round 1 with Moe Carrick April 26th Noon - 2:30 PM PST

Moe Carrick, executive leadership and organizational development pro has been resoundingly called back by the Membership to facilitate a workshop on developing personal and teams to "regaining our strength" as we emerge from the Pandemic and define our leader roles going forward. This is beyond inspirational, it is an educational and actionable work session. You will absolutely come away with capabilities you did not have prior to working with Moe and your Leader Peers. We are thankful she is our continued Trusted Partner and are truly excited to have her back at NWONL in 2021.
Event Info and Registration Here

News You Can Use

Call for NWONL Nurse Leader Award Nominations!
We had to put this off last year, but NOT this year. At each of our Virtual/Live Summit's this year, we will celebrate Nurse Leaders by bringing back the award ceremony, even if it is abbreviated form. You can read more about the first 2 awards that are open for nominations and submit for one here.
Transformational Pioneer: This award is given to a highly respected leader with characteristics consistent with a Professional Trailblazer. [link to online form]
Authentic Leadership: This award is given to a nurse leader of distinction who overtly and consistently demonstrates Authentic Leadership.  [link to online form]

All Members - Monthly CE!
In 2020 we activated our CE approval process and going forward, our goal is to provide timely and relevant CE that you can use immediately in your professional practice. Keep an eye on the Events Calendar, your email and social channels. Yes, the CE is included in your membership. Also, do you have something you would like to consider for presentation? Send us a note. 

2020 Donation Receipts?
Pandemic-smandemic, we raised almost $2k for Scholarships which we are rolling forward into 2021! If you donated to Scholarships in 2020 you would have been sent an email confirmation and receipt at time of donation and again in January. Should you need another copy, simply email us here at

What is Group Membership?
Its both a simplified registration and renewal process for members and organizational billing with a discount that recognizes the large scale commitment from an organization. Groups enjoy exactly the same benefits of single Membership in NWONL including: access to free webinars, legislative health policy updates, CE opportunities (CE is always no additional cost to Members), Council attendance and reference, formal board and committee leadership service potential, research on best practices, first access plus discounts on NWONL’s annual conference, regional and virtual summits and professional development courses. That said, if you EVER have any issues with new Member add or Renewal, regardless of organization size contact us immediately! We are a very small staff but we always want to improve.

What is Sponsorship? 
Essentially it is a member paying for membership on another's behalf. Sponsorship is a unique method for rewarding and promoting others who may not be in a position personally or organizationally to obtain membership. Do you want to assist others in getting connected meaningfully to the Northwest's Premier Nursing Leadership network... this is your lever. Simply email us at and we will get you setup. 

Upcoming Meetings and Regional Councils

Councils and Commissions are engaging and excellent ways to get involved and connected with your Nurse Leader peers. Join one!

See all events in one place here at NWONL Events

A Sincere Thank You to our Corporate Partners

Some of you may not know, but in 2020 and now into 2021 several of our longstanding Corporate Partners have continued to support us even as the pandemic continues and uncertainty abounds. They certainly did not have to, and in doing so they are proving yet again, they stand alongside the mission of NWONL for the long-haul. 

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Do you know what NWONL has planned for 2021?

More than we can summarize but we will try: Monthly exceptionally relevant CE (always at no-cost for Members). Three Live Virtual Events for deep dives into on-point topics with actionable work-session outcomes you can implement immediately, never canned, never stale, never pre-recorded. Ongoing and on-point CNO and Dean Rounding. Vibrant and expanded Council Sessions. Selected engaging content from our Partners and Affiliates to provide relevant and practical information and services. Plus we are on-track and for resuming Leadership elections, reopening our fully funded scholarship awards and our renowned peer driven Nurse Leadership awards

We would like to entice you more as we do have some major Member opportunities brewing and are bursting at the seams to share them with you! Alas, we should not tease until we are 100% confident we can roll them out. More to come!

Join or Renew