Healthy Work Environment

Healthy Work Environment

Healthy Work Environments are important to the welfare of nurses, for successful recruitment and retention and for the quality and safety of patients. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses identifies 6 essential standards necessary to create and ensure a healthy work environment with an optional seventh standard of self-care.

1. Skilled Communication
2. True Collaboration
3. Effective Decision Making

4. Appropriate Staffing
5. Meaningful Recognition
6. Authentic Leadership

1. Skilled Communication
2. True Collaboration
3. Effective Decision Making
4. Appropriate Staffing
5. Meaningful Recognition
6. Authentic Leadership

Each of the 6 critical standards can be measured with data available to all leaders within Sentara.

Units may assess measures which support healthy work environment standards. A pie chart can be used to color or download to code unit, department, or setting’s performance based on the myriad of quality, safety, and outcome data tracked across Sentara. The following guidelines are suggested to color the pie chart:

To order hard copies of the tool: Contact the Sentara Print Shop Nursing Leadership Academy — Healthy Work Environments under Brochures/Flyers/Handouts

Acute Care Hospitals

Non-Hospital Divisions

Pie Chart Template


Legacy Mapping for Sentara Nursing Staff 

Recruitment and retention is critical to the care of the patients we serve and to the success of Sentara Nursing. Legacy mapping, or career planning, is a great way to increase retention, grow talent and provide opportunities to take staff from where they are today to where they want to be! Creating a path for the future doesn’t mean making a 10-year plan. It’s about developing a roadmap and taking small actionable steps every day. It shows staff members how they can advance in their profession within Sentara.

As part of the Employee Performance Review process, staff and managers complete an individualized Legacy Map that begins the process. The goal is to have the Legacy Map be a fun, living document that is used and updated (at least annually) along the employee’s journey.


  • Have fun with the process!
  • Distribute the Legacy Map in December and employees complete prior to the EPR review. The Legacy Map is easy to use and covers topics to stimulate thought and discussion:
    • Current Portfolio – where employee is today and skills/attributes he/she brings on the journey.
    • Current Position.
    • Education – both current and planned.
    • Prospective Job Opportunities – clinical arenas, clinical roles, and future leadership.
    • Certification – currently held or planned.
    • Other Goals –other important career goals the employee wishes to discuss?
    • Dream Job – where does the employee see him/herself in 5 years?
  • Discuss the Legacy Map at the EPR review session. When discussing the document, consider:
    • Clinical Arenas – continued progress in current role (such as certification, shared governance, committee participation), future clinical arenas the individual may desire.
    • Current and Potential Clinical roles – preceptor, charge nurse, unit coordinator, educator, etc.
    • Future Leadership roles – team coordinator, manager, director, patient care supervisor, etc.
    • Education plans. For example, if the dream job is to progress to leadership, it is important to set the expectation about entry requirements for those jobs.
  • Once completed, maintain a copy of the Legacy Map with the employee’s folder. Plan to update annually or before if opportunities present themselves or change!

Legacy Mapping

Develop Your Roadmap to Success

Nursing Bundles

Gold Standard for Care Delivery

The Pause

Tip Sheet: Implementation of a post-code pause, to honor a life lost

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) (2005). AACN standards for establishing and sustaining healthy work environments: A journey to excellence. American Journal of Critical Care, 14(3), 187-197.
Brunjes, M & Foley-Brinza, C. (2014). Projects for increasing job satisfaction and creating a healthy work environment. AORN Journal, 100(6), 670-680.
Institute of Medicine (2003). Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses.National Academies Press, Washington, DC.
Ritter, D. (2010). The relationship between healthy work environments and retention of nurses in a hospital setting. Journal of Nursing Management, 19, 27-32.
Shirey, M. (2017). Leadership practices for healthy work environments. Nursing Management, 43-50.