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Vibe check: Pillar phrases uphold positive culture at the School of Nursing

School of Nursing staff gather in power poses wearing shirts that say "You Belong."
The dedicated School of Nursing staff have high standards for a supportive learning and working environment.

To maintain relevancy and make advancements, organizations need to build a workplace culture that understands both the people working within their walls and those outside of them. For School of Nursing leadership, this means being in touch with current trends of the healthcare industry as well as the school and its workforce.

The goal? A tangible, positive culture in the service of students.

“We’re in service to teach and lead our students to become good nurses,” said Shelle Poole, the School of Nursing divisional dean. “It is at the center of what we do.”

Talk the talk

As the heart of the school, nursing students pump energy, compassion and creativity into their environment. But in order to thrive, students need the support of faculty and staff; they are the skeletal structure that upholds students as they channel life into the community.

So while everything at the School of Nursing exists for the sake of students, the well-being of their support system – faculty and staff – is crucial for success. It all starts with workplace culture.

In order to ensure a strong culture for employees, Poole started with verbiage. Several phrases now ground the school’s culture and, consequently, its actions.

“What you talk about becomes the norm,” Poole said. “When you have a vision statement like “Nike: Just do it,” it becomes part of the culture so people know what to do in the moment of decision. So that’s what I was looking for.”

Grow our own

By growing the skills of people already connected with the school, leadership seeks to empower alum, staff and faculty. “Grow our own” is about developing talent from the inside.

This includes helping new employees assimilate and feel supported, as well as developing growth opportunities for alumni and those currently working at Boise State. Poole encourages people to lead where they are, whether or not they’re in formal leadership roles.

Make things easier

“Work smarter, not harder.” “Many hands make light work” The platitudes are practically endless when it comes to simplifying tasks. But there’s power in simplicity.

In the past, “we didn’t divide the work or the task into smaller chunks and then it required one person to do heroic efforts,” Poole said. Now, the school instinctively responds to a task by asking, “How can we make things easier for each other?”

The School of Nursing streamlines as many processes as possible in order to increase efficiency and productivity. For example, the undergraduate cohort was recently divided into two sections of 40 students each, which created a more manageable workload for professors.

School leadership encourages faculty to align their skills and passions with their academic responsibilities. Faculty are assigned to courses they want to teach, making their work enjoyable and easier.

Better together

Higher education traditionally inspires a competitive atmosphere, which often positively spurs on research and advancement. Unfortunately, it can also lead to a corrosive climate where one feels they can only achieve success at the expense of their peers.

As a proactive countermeasure, Poole emphasizes that there’s “enough greatness for all” at Boise State. The School of Nursing is a learning organization where everyone can thrive in their own sphere of expertise. Its focus is on educational progress that does not neglect peer-to-peer support and mentorship.

As a result, faculty and staff frequently create team-building activities and events. Workshops and potlucks regularly occur and contribute to the warm camaraderie.

Envisioning the future

All of these phrases – Grow Our Own, Make Things Easier, and Better Together – play a part in improving the school’s future. As the positive workplace culture nourishes faculty and staff, so too will the nursing students benefit and grow.

With added encouragement of everyone’s skills and passions, the School of Nursing enhances its ability to support one another and meet the demands of the changing healthcare landscape.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the School of Nursing’s culture in the coming days.