Award-winning manager stays close to her staff

A nurse manager’s success can be measured partly by their ability to retain staff and encourage former nurses back to the profession, believes Rosanne Squire, the winner of the National Care Award for Nursing.

To hold onto staff a manager must stay in close touch with them and understand their personal needs, says Rosanne, Deputy Director of Nursing at Lismore Base Hospital.

Rosanne’s nursing team nominated her for the National Care Award as a tribute to her 32 years’ service at the hospital. Presented for excellence in nursing practice, the award is supported by organisations including the Australian Nursing Federation and Royal College of Nursing.

‘Nurses need to know there is someone in management they can go to for help when they need it,’ Rosanne says. ‘It’s important that staff are heard, understood and offered options to deal with problems in a flexible manner.

‘Lismore is a very busy hospital with a high occupancy rate and I have seen many staff leave in times of stress and distress. I worked very hard at attracting and retaining staff and I think that’s why I was appreciated.’

Rosanne says that despite 27 years in management, she chose to stay as a deputy DON because she got greatest satisfaction from an operational position that allowed her to stay close to staff.

‘If you are close to your staff and know how they are getting on, you are in a better position to offer them support with issues such as rosters, workloads and additional education and training.’

Rosanne trained at Sydney Hospital from 1964, did midwifery at St Margaret’s and worked in Brewarrina and Cootamundra before going to Lismore in 1974.

Her earliest memory of wanting to be a nurse was at the age of 10, when she helped her aunt recover from severe burns. She never considered any other career option at school or after she started nursing.

‘I had that basic desire to care for people – that willingness to put someone else’s needs ahead of yours and to look after them – that all successful nurses have.

‘The technical aspects of nursing have changed a lot since I started my career, and there are very skilled graduates coming through now.

‘But technical knowledge alone won’t get you through the physically and emotionally demanding job of nursing. You still need to have that willingness to care for patients and other workers in your team.’

Rosanne believes the Nurses’ Association can take credit for improvements to nurses’ conditions such as more flexible rostering to take into account family responsibilities, and carers leave.

‘It’s important for nurses to join the Association and be aware of the support they can give you.

‘I was able to take carers leave to look after my aged mother when she was unwell – we would never have been able to do that previously.’