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Assistant Nurse Managers Connecting and Engaging with Professional Peer Networks


Background: Frontline Nurse Leaders, such as Assistant Nurse Managers (ANMs) and Charge Nurses (CNs), have a highly demanding role and they directly improve patient outcomes. They often get into the role without formal training, specialized education, or orientation. Adequate professional peer networks provide support, shared knowledge, develop and strengthen leadership skills, and improve patient flow across organizations.

Purpose: To determine (i) the ANMs experiences with engaging in professional peer networks; (ii) the ANMs preferences for engaging in professional peer networks; (iii) understand ways to develop opportunities for ANMs to build their professional peer networks to advance professional nursing leadership.

Methods: This is a qualitative descriptive study using a cross-sectional design of individual interviews from a convenience sample (N=8) of Assistant Nurse Managers in the acute care setting in the Sacramento, California area.

Results: Three key themes emerged from this study. First, ANM role training is inconsistent and sometimes inadequate. Second, the ANM position is considered complex, challenging, lonely, and ANMs feel siloed in their units. Third, ANMs value meaningful connections and engagement with their professional peers across their organization and outside of their organization. The professional peer connections serve as a resource of giving and receiving assistance, provide learning, and provide emotional and psychological support. Preferences for ways to connect with their professional peers varied and included wanting formal and informal conferences, work groups, and social time.

Conclusion: This research can guide organizations on future innovative strategies that can promote intentional networking strategies, collaborative learning, and improve support for our Frontline Nurse Leaders in a time where leadership training, development, and support is lacking. As they are the only role that connects upper management to the frontline delivery of patient care and are suggestive of directly affecting the quality and safety of patient care; it is vital they have opportunities to connect with their peers, further develop their leadership skills, and have adequate peer support.

Keywords: Charge Nurse, Assistant Nurse Manager, frontline nurse leader, middle management, professional networks, peer networks, connecting, engaging, nursing leadership

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