Nursing partnerships and workforce management take center stage at AONL

As nursing shortages and low margins continue to plague the healthcare industry, nursing and healthcare leaders are seeking new strategies to reduce burnout and improve clinician retention and patient care. The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) Conference is the premier event for nurse leaders which meets annually to connect decision-makers across the healthcare spectrum. Below are four key insights from industry executives and symplr leaders who attended AONL 2023 in Anaheim, Calif., May 1-4.

1. Workforce management and retention are a top priority

  • Leaders attending AONL pointed to a huge demand for sessions related to workforce management. “A key takeaway was that nursing leaders are looking for ways to remove barriers for their team,” said Patti Dorgan, senior director of product marketing at symplr. “This is what symplr can help with— providing the technology to save time, reduce chaos, and make space to provide care for patients and their teams.”
  • Additionally, attendees were looking for ways to leverage workforce management tools to support the mental health and wellness of staff and reduce burnout. Several presenters spoke to strategies for supporting mental wellbeing in nurses. Why nurses stay in the profession comes down to many factors: Read more.

2. Technology is being leveraged to fix operational challenges

  • Ali Morin, MSN, RN-BC, vice president of nursing informatics at symplr, noted an increased sense of urgency to address operational challenges in healthcare with software. “I’ve attended AONL as a nurse leader and as a vendor, and I noticed more than in years past that the attendees are on a mission to solve problems,” said Morin. On the tradeshow floor and in breakout sessions, conversations related to technology and process changes are happening at the health system level. Healthcare leaders are being tasked with finding technical and operational solutions to fix problems.
  • As Chief Nursing Officer, I've been to many conferences and I noted that many AONL attendees recognize symplr as the leading healthcare operations problem-solver, with over 30 years focused solely on healthcare.  

3. Room for improvement in health equity and diversity

  • The sessions at the conference showed that diversity and health equity continue to fall short and we need to continue to ensure systems and processes are in place for success,” said Linda Knodel, former chief nurse executive and SVP, Kaiser Permanente and Mercy Health. “Our schools of nursing also need to be an area of focus.”

4. Industry partnerships celebrate nurses and drive operational change

  • Highlighting symplr’s deep industry partnerships with the DAISY Foundation, AONL, and the Beyond Gratitude campaign, DAISY Foundation cofounders Bonnie and Mark Barnes joined the symplr team for a meet and greet and book signing in the booth. Attendees flocked to the booth to take photos in front of the 6-foot daisies made in Ukraine that symbolized our partnership with the DAISY Foundation in celebration of National Nurses Month. Robin Bagley, the CEO of AONL, and Deb Zimmerman, the President Elect, were effusive in their gratitude to symplr for working with AONL and DAISY to make the Beyond Gratitude project successful and create more DAISY nominations for the often-overlooked Nurse Managers. By working closely with AONL and DAISY, symplr is able to address key challenges and develop the technology to drive meaningful improvements and change how healthcare operates. symplr is honored to have the privilege to work with these two important organizations who are making a huge difference for nurses.
  • A highlight of the conference was the Sunrise Session breakfast session, “The Yoga of Staffing: Balance, Flexibility, and Gratitude,” featuring key findings from the AONL Nurse Manager Recognition research, highlighting the need for a more flexible approach to staffing, the impact of gratitude on retention and engagement, and ways to incorporate technology to support staff. The presenters were University of Iowa’s Lindell Joseph and Atrium Health’s Patricia Mook. The discussion was facilitated by me and my colleague, Ali Morin. The session reached maximum capacity with an engaged and interactive crowd— one audience member stood up and said it was the best presentation of the conference!

5. A sense of optimism and “can do spirit” was everywhere

  • In spite of the challenges facing the nursing profession, the audience was eager to learn about innovations that will make the role of the front-line clinician and nurse manager more rewarding. The opportunity to collaborate in person was appreciated after the isolation of the pandemic. The theme of “Change the Narrative” seemed to resonate with attendees, who were excited to put in the work to advance the profession to new levels and deliver stellar patient care.



Visitors to symplr’s booth celebrate Nurses Month and the DAISY Foundation by taking photos.


To learn more about National Nurses Month, read a blog written by symplr Chief Nursing Officer Karlene Kerfoot.

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